Title

Understanding how the inquiry strategy works in a physics classroom at secondary level in a Pakistani private school context

Date of Award

8-1-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)

Department

Institute for Educational Development, Karachi

Abstract

This study reports an action research conducted in a private school in Karachi. The purpose of the research study was to understand the implementation of the inquiry strategy in a physics classroom at secondary level. The research was guided by the main question 'How can I implement inquiry teaching strategies in a physics classroom at secondary level in a private school in Karachi?' For this purpose Wenning's (2005) 'hypothetical inquiry strategy' was adapted. To understand the inquiry process, Kemmis and McTaggart's spiral model of action research is employed. I used the qualitative approach to collect the data. The main tools for data collection included personal reflections, semi-structured interviews, observations and document analysis as well as informal talks with a critical friend. In this study, I played a dual role; as a researcher as well as a classroom teacher. During the study the main role of the physics teacher was as a nonparticipant observer, who helped me to monitor some of the groups at different stages during inquiry teaching. There were thirty students (in class IX) who participated in this study as learners. Their major role was to learn physics concepts through inquiry strategy, where they performed and observed hands-on activities, developed hypothesis, created and conducted experiments to give empirical evidence to their hypothesis and defended it by presenting their findings to the classmates. The study was conducted by implementing three action cycles (a total of nine lessons) where each learning cycle consisted of three lessons. The main finding of the study reveals that teaching physics through inquiry strategy in a Pakistani secondary school context was challenging but possible. Besides some facilitating factors, there were challenges and constraints ranging from content specific issues such as teaching and learning abstract ideas in physics to problems and challenges of general classroom management and the motivation of students towards inquiry. On the basis of the findings, the study suggests some implications for different stakeholders including myself, followed by recommendations for further study.

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