Effect of structured inquiry-based laboratory on thinking skills among biology students

LEE Tze Jiun, Nurzatulshima KAMARUDIN, Othman TALIB, and Aminuddin HASSAN
Faculty of Educational Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia

Corresponding Author’s Email: june_le80@yahoo.com


This study aimed to investigate thinking skills practical achievement tests between Biology students who perform Structured Inquiry-based laboratory (SIL) and students who do not (TT) (only traditional teaching in classroom). Two groups of co-ed Form 4 Biology students (n=64) from two public schools in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia were selected for the study. Lower-order thinking skills (LOTS) questionnaires about practical were tested in the pre-test and post-test. A curiosity index model (as covariate) which was developed by Ainely (1987) (cited by Fulcher, 2004) was used to investigate levels of the curiosity prior the experiment started due to curiosity might affect the behavior being observed.  The Curiosity Index analysis, TT students had higher level of curiosity than SIL students but no significant differences. TT groups also exhibited higher Breadth and Depth levels of curiosity than the SIL, with no significant different shown. The students who were exposed to SIL achieved significant higher LOTS post-test mean score than TT group with a small effect size (partial eta squared) of .16. This paper suggested that students’ thinking skills can to be nurtured with the suitable types of instructional method. Even though highly curious students tend to explore their surroundings, but without the implementation of proper instructional methods and techniques by their teachers to continuously inspire their curiosity, it is difficult for them to acquire higher level thinking skills.

Keywords: Curiosity level, Structured inquiry-based laboratory, Malaysia


  1. Ali, S. N. (2012). Malaysian polytechnic lecturers ’ teaching practices with ICT utilization to promote higher-order thinking skills.
  2. Arangala, C. (2013). Developing curiosity in science with service. Journal for Civic Commitment, 20, 1– 10.
  3. Arnone, M. P. (2003). Using instructional design strategies to foster curiosity. ERIC Digest. Syracuse, New York: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology, 1–5. Retrieved from http://www.ericdigests.org/2004-3/foster/html
  4. Arnone, M. P., Small, R. V., Chauncey, S. a., & McKenna, H. P. (2011a). Curiosity, interest and engagement in technology-pervasive learning environments: a new research agenda. Association for Educational Communiations and Technology, 59(2), 181–198.
  5. Arnone, M. P., Small, R. V., Chauncey, S. a., & McKenna, H. P. (2011b). Curiosity, interest and engagement in technology-pervasive learning environments: a new research agenda. Educational Technology Research and Development, 59(2), 181–198. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s11423-011-9190-9
  6. Avargil, S., Herscovitz, O., & Dori, Y. J. (2011). Teaching thinking skills in Context-Based Learning: Teachers’ challenges and assessment knowledge. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 21(2), 207–225.
  7. Bahadir, Z., & Certel, Z. (2013). Comparison of curiosity levels of physical education teachers to the teachers of other branches. Turkish Journal Of Sport and Exercise, 15(1), 1–8.
  8. Berlyne, D. E., & Walker, E. L. (1978). Curiosity and learning. Motivation and Emotion, 2(2), 97–175.
  9. Binson, B. (2009). Curiosity-based learning (CBL) program. US-China Education Review, 6(12), 13– 22.
  10. Borowske, K. (2005). Curiosity and motivation-to-learn. Comunicación Presentada a La ACRL Twelfth National Conference, 346–350.
  11. Curriculum Development Centre Ministry of Education Malaysia. (2005). Integrated Curriculum for Secondary Schools Curriculum SpecificationsBiology Form 4. (pp. 1–77).
  12. Deacon, C., & Hajek, A. (2010). Student perceptions of the value of physics laboratories. International Journal of Science Education, 33(7), 1–35.
  13. Dkeidek, I., Mamlok-Naaman, R., & Hofstein, A. (2012). Assessment of the laboratory learning environment in an inquiry-oriented chemistry laboratory in Arab and Jewish high schools in Israel. Learning Environments Research, 15(2), 141–169.
  14. Friedel, C., Irani, T., Rudd, R., Gallo, M., Eckhardt, E., & Ricketts, J. (2008). Overtly teaching critical thinking and inquiry-based learning: a comparison of two undergraduate biotechnology classes. Journal of Agricultural Education, 49(1), 72–84.
  15. Gottlieb, J., Oudeyer, P.-Y., Lopes, M., & Baranes, A. (2013). Information-seeking, curiosity, and attention: computational and neural mechanisms. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17(11), 585–93.
  16. Gulten, D. C., Yaman, Y., Deringol, Y., & Ozsari, I. (2011). Investigating the relationship between curiosity level and computer self efficacy beliefs of elementary teachers candidates. The Turkish Online Journal of Edcuational Technology, 10(4), 248–254.
  17. Hanegan, N., & Bigler, A. (2009). Infusing authentic inquiry into biotechnology. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18, 393–401.
  18. Hofstein, A., & Mamlok-Naaman, R. (2007). The laboratory in science education: the state of the art. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 8(2), 105–107.
  19. Hofstein, A., Nahum, T. L., & Shore, R. (2001). Assessment of the learning environment of inquirytype laboratories in high school chemistry. Learning Environments Research, 4, 193–207.
  20. Hofstein, A., Navon, O., Kipnis, M., &MamlokNaaman, R. (2005). Developing students’ ability to ask more and better questions resulting from inquiry-type chemistry laboratories. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(7), 791–806.
  21. Holyoak, K. J., & Morrison, R. (2005). The Cambridge handbook of thinking and reasoning (p. 803). New York: Cambridge University Press.
  22. Hutchins, K. L., &Friedrichsen, P. J. (2012). Science Faculty Belief Systems in a Professional Development Program: Inquiry in College Laboratories. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 23(8), 867–887.
  23. Johnson, C., Zhang, D., Kahle, J., & Broomfield, C. (2012). Effective Science Instruction: Impact on High-Stakes Assessment Performance. RMLE Online Research in Middle Level Education, 35(9), 1–14.
  24. Kamarudin, N., Hamza, H., & Lee, T. J. (2016). Promoting higher order thinking skills in science education. Malaysian Journal of Higher Order Thinking Skills in Education (MJHOTS), 2, 190– 209.
  25. Kashdan, T. B., & Yuen, M. (2007). Whether highly curious students thrive academically depends on perceptions about the school learning environment: A study of Hong Kong adolescents. Motivation and Emotion, 31(4), 260–270.
  26. Kee, B. S. (2015). Amali Process Sains Form 4. Selangor: Pelangi.
  27. Litman, J. A., & Jimerson, T. L. (2004). The measurement of curiosity as a feeling of deprivation. Journal of Personality Assessment, 82(2), 147–57.
  28. Malone, T. W. (1981). Toward a Theory of Intrinsically Motivating Instruction. Cognitive Science: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 5(4), 333–369.
  29. Malone, T. W., & Lepper, M. R. (1987). Aptitute,learning,and instruction. In S. Richard E. & F. Marshall J. (Eds.), Making learning fun: A Taxonomy of Intrinsic Motivations for Learning (Vol 3., pp. 223–253). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  30. Milner-Bolotin, M., & Nashon, S. M. (2012). The essence of student visual-spatial literacy and higher order thinking skills in undergraduate biology. Protoplasma, 249 Suppl, S25–30.
  31. Ministry of Education Malaysia. (2016). Quick Facts Malaysia Educational Statistics (pp. 1–45). Educational Planning and Research Division.
  32. National Research Council. (2009). A New Biology for the 21st Century (p. 98). Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.
  33. Niu, L., Behar-Horenstein, L. S., & Garvan, C. W. (2013). Do instructional interventions influence college students’ critical thinking skills? A metaanalysis. Educational Research Review, 9, 114–128.
  34. Opara, J.A. (2011).Inquiry method and student academic achievement in Biology. American-Eurasian Journal of Scientific Research, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 28-31.
  35. Osman, K., Ahmad, C.N.C., & Halim, L. (2011). Students’ perception of the physical and psychosocial sicence laboratory environment in Malaysia: Comparison across subject and school location. Procedia- Social and Behavioral Sciences, 15, 1650-1655.
  36. Pica, T. (2005). Classroom learning, teaching and Research: A Task-Based Perspective. The Modern Language Journal, 89(3), 339–352.
  37. Reid, N., & Shah, I. (2007). The role of laboratory work in university chemistry. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 8(2), 172–185.
  38. RIC. (2006). Thinking Skills: A cross curricular approach (p. 97). Greenwood, Australia: R.I.C. Publicaitons.
  39. Saadé, R. G., Morin, D., & Thomas, J. D. E. (2012). Critical thinking in E-learning environments. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(5), 1608–1617.
  40. Salih, M. (2010). Developing thinking skills in Malaysian science students via an analogical task. Journal of Science and Mathematics Education in Southeast Asia, 33(1), 110–128.
  41. Salim, K. R., Puteh, M., & Daud, S. M. (2012). Assessing Students’ Practical Skills in Basic Electronic Laboratory based on Psychomotor Domain Model. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 56, 546–555.
  42. Smith, G. F. (2002). Thinking skills: The question of generality. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 34(6), 659–678.
  43. Soydan, S. B., & Erbay, F. (2013). The methods applied by pre-school teachers to raise the curiosity of children and their views. Globla Journal of Teacher Education, 1(1), 31–42.
  44. Voogt, J., Tilya, F., &Akker, J. (2009). Science Teacher Learning of MBL-Supported Student-Centered Science Education in the Context of Secondary Education in Tanzania. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(5), 429–438.
  45. Walton, K.L.W., & Baker, J.C. (2009). Group projects as a method of promoting student scientific communication and collaboration in a public health microbiology course. Bioscene, 35(2), 16-22.
  46. Wang, S. K., & Reeves, T. C. (2007). The effects of a web-based learning environment on student motivation in a high school earth science course. Educational Technology Research and Development, 55(2), 169–192.
  47. Wolf, S. J., & Fraser, B. J. (2007). Learning Environment, Attitudes and Achievement among Middle-school Science Students Using Inquirybased Laboratory Activities. Research in Science Education, 38(3), 321–341.