Jelena Volkinsteine, Dace Namsone


From 2011, the new educational standard in Latvia in the framework of the educational reform on the centralised examination (CE) in chemistry stipulates students to demonstrate the inquiry skills they have mastered. The purpose of this study is to find out the students’ inquiry skills by analysing the CE results in chemistry. This study addresses the following research questions: (a) To what extent are the centralised examination inquiry skills measured according to the standard outcomes? (b) What information on how students have mastered the inquiry skills in chemistry is available from the CE results for the period of 2011-2015? (c) Does measuring the inquiry skills using inquiry-based laboratory work and inquiry tasks demonstrate similar achievements? The results of the study show that the CE inquiry tasks allow examining only several inquiry skills, that students have difficulties in hypothesizing and planning the procedure. The results of the examination inquiry task (the 'hidden' part) and inquiry-based laboratory work (the part prepared by the school) differ considerably. These findings show a contradiction. On the one hand, when carrying out a inquiry-based laboratory work at school students demonstrate good inquiry skills. On the other hand, they lack the skills when solving an inquiry task during the centralised examination. This proves the insufficient skills of the teachers in organising real student scientific inquiry during lessons and failure in using the inquiry-based laboratory work record as an objective measuring tool in evaluating the student inquiry skills in the examination, which is our case.


centralised examination; scientific inquiry; inquiry skills; inquiry-based laboratory work

Full Text:



Abd-El-Khalick, F., BouJaoude, S., Duschl, R., Lederman, N. G., Mamlok-Naaman, R., Hofstein, A., … Tuan, H. (2004). Inquiry in science education: International perspectives. Science Education, 88(3), 397-419.

Aikenhead, G. (2006). Science Education for Everyday Life. London, ON: Althouse Press.

American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2000). Designs for Literacy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Anderson, R. D. (2002). Reforming science teaching: What research says about inquiry. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 13(1), 1-12.

Brown, P. L., Abell, S. K., Demir, A., & Schmidt, F. J. (2006). College science teachers’ views of classroom inquiry. Science Education, 90(5), 784-802.

Buck, L. B., Bretz, S. L., & Towns, M. H. (2008). Characterizing the Level of Inquiry in the Undergraduate Laboratory. Journal of College Science Teaching, 38(1), 52-58.

Chiappetta, E. (1997). Inquiry-based science. The Science Teacher, 65(7), 22-26.

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011). Research Methods in Education Paperback. London and NEW YORK: Routledge.

Dewey, J. (1910). Science as subject-matter and as method. Science, 31, 121-127.

Hackett, J. (1998). Inquiry: Both means and ends. The Science Teacher, 65(6), 35-37.

Hanauer, D. I., Jacobs-Sera, D., Pedulla, M. L., Cresawn, S. G., Hendrix, R. W., & Hatfull, G. F. (2006). Teaching scientific inquiry. Science, 314(5807), 1880–1881.

Harlen, W., & Jelly, S. (1989/1997). Developing science in the primary classroom. Essex, England: Addison Wesley Longman, Ltd.

Hegarty-Hazel E. (1990). Life in Science Laboratory Classrooms at Tertiary Level. In Hegarty-Hazel E. (Ed.), The Students Laboratory and the Science Curriculum (pp.357-382). London and New York: Routledge.

Hegarty-Hazel E. (1990). The students laboratory. In Hegarty-Hazel E. (Ed.), The Students Laboratory and the Science Currriculum (pp.3-26). London and New York: Routledge.

Herron, M. D. (1971). Then nature of scientific c inquiry. In J. J. Schwab & P. F. Brandwein (Eds.), The teaching of science (pp. 3-103). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Hofstein, A., Navon, O., Kipnis, M., & Mamlok-Naaman, R. (2005). Developing students’ ability to ask more and better questions resulting from inquiry-type chemistry laboratories. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42, 791-806.

Krajcik, J., Mamlok, R., & Hug, B. (2001). Modern content and the enterprise of science: science education in the 20th century. In L. Corno (Ed.), Education across a century: the centennial volume (pp. 205-238). Chicago, Illinois: National Society for the Study of Education.

Martin-Hansen, L. (2002). Defining inquiry: exploring the many types of inquiry in the science classroom. The Science Teacher, 69(2), 34-37.

Minstrell, J. & van Zee, E. (Eds.). (2000). Inquiring into inquiry learning and teaching in science. Washington DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science.

National Research Council. (2001). Educating Teachers of Science, Mathematics, and Technology: New Practices for the New Millennium. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Sadeh, I., & Zion, M. (2009). The Development of Dynamic Inquiry Performances within an Open Inquiry Setting: A Comparison to Guided Inquiry Setting. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(10), 1137-1160.

Schwab, J. (1960). Enquiry, the science teacher, and the educator. The Science Teacher, 27, 6-11.

Schwab, J. (1962). The teaching of science as enquiry. In J. J. Schwab & P. Brandwein (Eds.), The teaching of science (pp. 3-103). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wenning, C. J. (2005). Levels of inquiry: Hierarchies of pedagogical practices and inquiry processes. Journal of Physics Teacher Education Online, 2(3), 3-11.

Савенков А. И. (2006). Психологические основы исследовательского подхода к oбучению [Psychological Bases for Research Approach in Learning]. Москва: Ось-89.

AQA Science Controlled assessment in GCSE. (2014). Retrieved from

Cambridge International Examinations. Retrieved from

National Centre for Education. (2015). Valsts Pārbaudes darbu programmes [National Test Programmes]. Retrieved from

NECAP Science: Guidelines for the Development of Science Inquiry Tasks. (2008). Retrieved from

OECD. (2015). Measuring Student Knowledge and Skills. Retrieved from

The Republic of Latvia Cabinet Regulation No 281 of 21 May 2013. Noteikumi par valsts vispārējās vidējās izglītības standartu, mācību priekšmetu standartiem un izglītības programmu paraugiem [Regulations Regarding the State General Secondary Education Standard, Subject Standards and Sample Education programmes]. Retrieved from



  • There are currently no refbacks.