RESEARCH REPORT: Benefiting from an open-ended experiment? A comparison of attitudes to, and outcomes of, an expository versus an open-inquiry version of the same experiment
In this article we compare outcomes of an open-inquiry and an expository version of a chemistry laboratory experiment at university level for 190 students. The aim of the study was to investigate if these two versions would result in different outcomes depending on the students' attitudes towards learning. We used a questionnaire to find out their attitude position prior to the laboratory experiment. The outcome in the different versions of the experiment was evaluated by interviews, questions asked during the experiment and students self-evaluations. The main findings were that the open-inquiry version shows the most positive outcomes regarding learning outcome, preparation time, time spent in the laboratory and student perception of the experiment. The students with low attitude position needed more support to meet the challenge of an open-inquiry experiment, the support being a clearer explanation of the aims, and feedback from the instructor during the experiment.