Comparing How Different Inquiry-based Approaches Impact Learning Outcomes

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Andrew A Tawfik
Woei Hung
Philippe J. Giabbanelli


To date, there are currently many variations of inquiry-based instruction including problem-based learning (PBL), lecture prior to problem solving, and case-based learning (CBL). While each claim to support problem-solving, they also include different levels of student- centeredness and instructor support. From an educational perspective, further clarity is needed to determine which model best supports learning outcomes such as conceptual knowledge, causal reasoning, and self-efficacy. While various meta-analyses have been conducted to ascertain how inquiry-based instruction compares with lecture-based approaches, there are few studies that directly compare these methods. To address this gap, this study looked at the effects of PBL, lecture prior to problem-solving, and CBL on students conceptual knowledge, causal reasoning, and self-efficacy (N = 91). While no significant difference was found on self-efficacy, the results found that learners in the PBL group performed highest on conceptual knowledge. In terms of causal reasoning, the PBL group outperformed other conditions on correctly identified connections. However, the PBL condition also had the highest number of incorrectly identified concepts. Implications for theory and practice are also discussed.

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