Action Research 11
When students use inquiry to ask questions and conduct investigations they engage in active learning. According to the National Research Council (2000), this is an example of metacognitive learning; it focuses on sense-making and reflection. This means essentially looking at natural phenomenon, asking questions, testing hypothesis, gathering data and observations, and reflecting on the validity of your thoughts. These researched practices prove to increase transfer of student learning to new situations (Palincsar & Brown, 1984, Scardamalia et al., 1984; Shoenfeld, 1983, 1985, 1991, as cited by the National Research Council, 2000, p.12). This mode of inquiry by asking questions, investigating phenomenon, using the scientific method and sense-making and reflection could be used in students’ field work.
Science involves creativity. Scientists use creativity to solve problems, to make connections, to conduct experiments, and to come up with hypothesis and theories. Einstein agreed that imagination was paramount for extending the current understanding of science (National Research Council, 2005). McComas (1998) wrote somewhat extensively on this topic and conveyed that, “Only the creativity of the individual scientist permits the discovery of laws and the invention of theories” (p. 60). Unfortunately, many in class laboratory exercises that attempt to engage students in the benefits of hands-on learning are simply limited by resources and a controlled environment. Thus, they act as verification exercises that can sap creativity and turn students off to the true nature of science. In actuality, these students never truly experienced the creative nature of science. Tobias (1990) argued that many competent and intelligent students rebuff possible science careers because they do not find science class to be exciting or creative.