From IslandWood Education Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Students’ curiosity can be a powerful drive for answering investigative questions. However, it can sometimes be difficult for the instructor to provoke and encourage productive and manageable investigative questions. Students experience much more ownership when they pose their own questions, design the method of the investigation and evaluate the results.

In science education, Investigations are often divided into two types: field study and controlled experiment.  Controlled experiments explore the relationship between two variables by actively influencing the setting or subjects.  This is what most of us remember doing in labs while we were in school. 

In IslandWood's School Overnight Program (SOP) most of the investigations we undertake are in the form of Field Studies.  We believe that fields studies allow the development of scientific skills and attitudes, while at the same time developing a sense of respect for the living organisms and their environs on our campus.

A field study explores the relationship between two variables without influencing the setting or subjects. Field studies are generally looking for correlations between the variables, not cause-and-effect answers. We will not be able to find definitive answers from one investigation, but the relationships observed can lead to more questions which then lead to more investigations, and so on. Ultimately, we can see patterns in the observed relationships and develop theories grounded in the data. The goal is to practice thinking like a scientist. This is a perfect example of “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”

Why do we do Investigations at Islandwood? Investigating natural phenomena through analysis of data sets students up with the skills for real-world problem solving: by simplifying (or narrowing) their questions, choosing a process (or approach) to answering the question, and then evaluating the outcomes, instructors are able to support the development of student understanding and nurture a community of scientists. Developing these scientific skills also contributes to positive scientific attitudes.

Be sure to think about what makes a good conclusion for the investigations!