University of Tartu (ESTONIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN16 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 5558-5564
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.2324
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
In this study, we aimed to identify the relation between students’ reflection levels (description, justification, critique, dialogue and transfer) to their inquiry learning outcome (i.e. formulated conclusions) after conducting a complete inquiry cycle in an online Inquiry Learning Space (ILS). We expected that students with a higher reflection level would be more experienced in formulating relevant conclusions than students at a lower of reflection level.

An ILS is an online learning space hosted by the Go-Lab Portal ( in which students solve inquiry-based tasks using virtual or remote labs. The learning process in an ILS generally follows a sequence of five inquiry phases—Orientation, Conceptualisation, Investigation, Conclusion, and Discussion— (Pedaste et al., 2015) and which can be guided with specific scaffolds such as a Conclusion Tool, Hypothesis Scratchpad, etc. (see Zacharia et al., 2015).

Forty-five students from the 9th grade with an average age of 15 years from two Estonian public schools participated in this study. During the interventions students worked with a chemistry-based ILS called “What does pH measure?” Students were given a pre-defined problem to be solved by following an inquiry cycle. In each phase students had tasks to perform which led to concrete learning outcomes (e.g., hypotheses, conclusions).

The students answered open-ended questions to state their conclusions in the Conclusion phase and answered open-ended reflective questions to reflect on their study process in the Discussion phase. The students reflections and their conclusions was analysed by two researchers using a rubric for identifying students’ reflection levels (Cohen’s kappa=0.860) and a rubric for assessing the quality of conclusions (Cohen’s kappa=0.839). According to the results, 36% of the reflections were at the description level, 51% were at the justification level, and 13% of the students reflections were at the critique level. The highest reflection levels (dialogue and transfer) were not detected at all. In analysing conclusions we saw that usually students were able to formulate conclusions that were consistent with the formulated hypotheses (73%), but sometimes they missed one or other components of the hypothesis (e.g., relation between independent and dependent variable). In order to study the relation between students’ reflections with the formulated conclusions, students were divided into two groups based on the quality of the conclusions. A non-parametric Mann-Whitney U-test revealed that the students who formulated conclusions at a high level also scored higher on the reflection level (Z=-2.586; p<0.01). A moderate correlation (ρ=0.420; p<0.005) was found between the quality of students’ reflections and the consistency of their conclusions with their hypotheses. The results suggest that students who reflect at a higher reflection level are more successful in formulating high quality inquiry outcomes such as consistent and valid conclusions. Therefore it seems that reflection should be part of the learning process in order to support students to achieve higher quality inquiry learning outcomes.
Inquiry-based learning, online learning environments, reflection.