and then communicating explanations is an important set of experiences for school science programs.

Teaching approaches and instructional materials that make full use of inquiry include all five of these essential features. Each of these essential features can vary, of course. These variations might include the amount of structure a teacher builds into an activity or the extent to which students initiate and design an investigation. For example, every inquiry engages students in scientifically oriented questions. However, in some inquiries students pose the initial question; in others students choose alternatives or

sharpen the initial question; and in others the students are provided the question. Research demonstrates the importance of students’ taking ownership of a task, which argues for engaging students in identifying or sharpening questions for inquiry. But all variations appropriate for the particular learning goal are acceptable, as long as the learning experience centers on scientifically oriented questions that engage students’ thinking.

Sometimes inquiries are labeled as either “full” or “partial.” These labels refer to the proportion of a sequence of learning experiences that is inquiry-based. For example, when a teacher or textbook does not engage students with a question but begins by assigning an experiment, an essential element of inquiry is missing and the inquiry is partial. Likewise, an inquiry is partial if a teacher chooses to demonstrate how something works rather than have students explore it and develop their own questions or explanations. If all five of the essential elements of classroom inquiry are present, the inquiry is said to be full.

Inquiry-based teaching can also vary in the amount of detailed guidance that the teacher provides. Table 2-6 describes variations in the amount of structure, guidance, and coaching the teacher provides for students engaged in inquiry, broken out for each of the five essential features. It could be said that most open form of

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