Knowledge about inquiry : a study in South African high schools

18 Mar 2015

This paper reports a study on South African learners‟ knowledge about scientific inquiry using the Views About Scientific Inquiry (VASI) questionnaire. The sample consisted of 105 grade 11 learners from 7 schools across the socio-economic spectrum in a South African city. A rubric for scoring the VASI questionnaire was developed and refined during the process of coding and is presented. Results showed that the learners held more informed views than that reported in previous international studies, except for particularly naive views regarding multiple methods of investigation. The results are discussed in terms of the Revised National Curriculum Statement (RNCS) that was taught from 2003 to 2010 in South African schools. This curriculum was founded on outcomes based principles, valuing process skills rather than content. The study found that examples provided in the RNCS document correspond closely to the aspects of inquiry as described by the National Research Council (NRC). It is argued that the RNCS contributed to the more informed views about inquiry found amongst South African learners in this study.