‘Would you dare to jump?’ Fostering a scientific approach to secondary physics inquiry

C. F.J. Pols*, P. J.J.M. Dekkers, M. J. de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Secondary school students often only use the rules for doing scientific inquiry when prompted, as if they fail to see the point of doing so. This qualitative design study explores conditions to address this problem in school science inquiry. Dutch students (N = 22, aged 14–15) repeatedly consider the quality of their work: in a conventional, guided inquiry approach; by evaluating their conclusion in terms of the contextual purpose of the investigation; as consumers of knowledge facing the (hypothetical) risk of applying the findings in the real world. By gauging students’ confidence in the inquiry’s trustworthiness, we established that, while each confrontation instigated some students to (re)consider the quality of their inquiry, the final stage had the greatest impact. Students came to see that finding trustworthy results is essential, requiring scientific standards. The scientific quality of their inquiries was described, weaknesses identified and compared with the improvements students themselves proposed for their inquiries. While the improvemens were expressed in non-specific terms these align with a scientific perspective. Students now wanted to find trustworthy answers by exploiting scientific standards. In enabling students to engage successfully in basic scientific inquiry, finding ways to establish students’ mental readiness for attending to the quality of their scientific claims, and of personalised scientific criteria for their assessment, is indispensable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1481-1505
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • argumentation
  • Concepts of Evidence
  • physics
  • practical work
  • Scientific inquiry


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