chapter  16
16 Pages

Exploring the scope and boundaries of inquiry strategies

What do young learners generalize from inquiry-based science learning?
WithAla Samarapungavan, Jamison Wills, Lynn A. Bryan

Questions of how, why, and when we take something learned previously and use it in a seemingly new context or situation have long preoccupied psychologists, educators, and philosophers. This chapter provides a brief overview of the program of research on young children's school-based science conducted by the lead author's research group and discuss how elements of our pedagogical approach connect to considerations of transfer. The Modeling in Primary Grades (MPG) project leverages children's early capacities and experiences to support the learning of scientific concepts that have traditionally been considered too difficult to introduce in the early elementary school years. Our pedagogical approach harnesses both students' domain-specific knowledge and their more general cognitive faculties to scaffold the early emergence of important scientific practices such as the construction of empirical tests to resolve theoretical impasses. Our research indicates that the epistemic demands of the classroom social context play a key role in supporting students' developing fluidity of scientific practice.