Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Studies of Inquiry-Based Science Teaching: A Meta-Analysis

Erin Marie Furtak, Tina Seidel, Heidi Iverson, Derek C. Briggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

608 Scopus citations


Although previous meta-analyses have indicated a connection between inquiry-based teaching and improved student learning, the type of instruction characterized as inquiry based has varied greatly, and few have focused on the extent to which activities are led by the teacher or student. This meta-analysis introduces a framework for inquiry-based teaching that distinguishes between cognitive features of the activity and degree of guidance given to students. This framework is used to code 37 experimental and quasi-experimental studies published between 1996 and 2006, a decade during which inquiry was the main focus of science education reform. The overall mean effect size is .50. Studies that contrasted epistemic activities or the combination of procedural, epistemic, and social activities had the highest mean effect sizes. Furthermore, studies involving teacher-led activities had mean effect sizes about .40 larger than those with student-led conditions. The importance of establishing the validity of the treatment construct in meta-analyses is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-329
Number of pages30
JournalReview of Educational Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • inquiry-based teaching
  • meta-analysis
  • science learning
  • science teaching
  • student achievement


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