David L. Haury and Peter
The information presented in this document was gathered by contacting teachers and consultants who promote hands-on approaches to science teaching, by talking with curriculum specialists and developers who design programs and materials for active learning, and by reviewing the professional literature related to hands-on teaching and learning. Broad support for hands-on methods clearly exists, but there are also crucial questions to be answered by anyone or any group planning to enrich their classrooms with a more activity-based, inquiry-oriented approach to teaching. As the responses to questions presented here indicate, none of the crucial questions are as simple as they first appear, and different educators have different concerns and priorities relating to each question. Perhaps the crucial first step in developing a hands-on teaching style is to acknowledge the open questions and begin a process of finding personally satisfying answers.
The questions and answers offered here will help start the process of self-improvement or school-based reform, but they will soon have to be supplemented by questions and answers of more immediate concern related to local conditions, priorities, and concerns. Hands-on advocates should consider doing what we have done to develop this document; survey stakeholders to generate a list of their questions, then speak with colleagues and specialists about possible answers, and study the professional literature. There are many resources that facilitate access to the reservoir of professional knowledge, so reformers should make a serious attempt to find out what others already know before investing too much time in formulating personal answers to questions. In addition to the ERIC system mentioned on page 131 and the several sourcebooks cited, there are many on-line databases and electronic bulletin boards waiting to be used. The authors, in fact, used electronic bulletin boards and mail services to communicate with several of the contributors to this document. For a comprehensive listing of available resources, refer to the Directory of Online Databases (Marcaccio, 1992).
Most important, keep asking questions, and consider the full range of answers that colleagues offer.
Posted to the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory's
Pathways to School Improvement Internet server on July 10, 1995.