R. Ryplova, H. Svobodova

University of South Bohemia, Faculty of Education (CZECH REPUBLIC)
Recent international reports on education highlights the importance of enhancing students’ engagement in investigating nature and examining complex issues in science.
In Czech Republic this topic is very important considering the conclusions of PISA 2006 survey reporting the low ability of Czech students to identify scientific issues in their environment and to use scientific evidence for explaining phenomena.
From this reason inquiry teaching approach, which is widely believed to enhance this ability, is implemented recently into the science education at Czech schools.
The ability to identify, examine and understand complex science tasks necessitates cooperation across the disciplinary borders. From this reason, for enhancing the ability to examine complex issues in science, such topics seem to be very suitable for inquiry based science education, which require interdisciplinary co-operation.

This article brings a design and implementation of inquiry based teaching program based on biology-chemistry interactions. The results of our research aimed to the impact of this program on students‘knowledge level and its sustainability are presented as well.

The teaching program named „ Why the spices smell?“ designed according to inquiry approach for enhancing biology and chemistry learning was tested on 35 students (3 different classes) at Czech secondary schools. Simultaneously, the same topic was taught by classical frontal teaching method in other 3 classes (35 students).
Several studies demonstrate the impact of teaching natural science embedded in such context which is closed to students. Therefore the initial scenario starts with cooking meat by using different spices. Cooking, through TV popular phenomenon, provide a useful context for teaching chemistry and biology.
This initial motivation engages students in an investigation, looking for evidence and solving the introductory complex problem „Why the spices smell? “
Teacher acts as adviser who coach the activities leading to the findings, aims students to use chemical rules and concepts to solve problems in biology and the other way round to explore the role of biological structures in chemical processes.

The impact of this inquiry based interdisciplinary program on students‘knowledge level was tested three days after the lessons. The sustainability of the students’ findings earned through either inquiry or frontal learning was examined a month later.

We concluded that the use of this inquiry based interdisciplinary teaching program increased the knowledge in biology as well as in chemistry. From this point of view, inquiry approach seemed to be more efficient than frontal approach. Furthermore a positive influence of inquiry approach on knowledge sustainability was detected as well.

This work was supported by project no. GAJU 078/2013/S