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Spontaneous inquiry questions in high school chemistry classrooms: perceptions of a group of motivated learners

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This ethnographic research explores the perspectives of a subset of American suburban Midwestern high school chemistry students on the motivations for and implications of a particular form of classroom questioning behaviour. These students describe the intellectual curiosity that drives them to ask questions that are related to content but bring them beyond the delivered or expected curriculum. These same students explain that teacher and peer responses often encourage them to abandon their curiosity for social conformity. Although educators and policy makers call for the freedom to explore, test ideas, throw out conjectures and practice scientific discourse, these students suggest that the social atmosphere in high schools is stacked against scientific inquiry. They feel that their questions are not always valued, encouraged or given time to flourish. This study has significant implications for implementing the vision for scientific inquiry in high school science classrooms (NRC 2000).
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The University of Toledo, Toledo, USA' e-mail: [email protected]

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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