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Spires, H.A.;  Himes, M.P.;  Krupa, E. Project-Based Inquiry Global in Science Education. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 23 June 2024).
Spires HA,  Himes MP,  Krupa E. Project-Based Inquiry Global in Science Education. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 23, 2024.
Spires, Hiller A., Marie P. Himes, Erin Krupa. "Project-Based Inquiry Global in Science Education" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 23, 2024).
Spires, H.A.,  Himes, M.P., & Krupa, E. (2022, June 27). Project-Based Inquiry Global in Science Education. In Encyclopedia.
Spires, Hiller A., et al. "Project-Based Inquiry Global in Science Education." Encyclopedia. Web. 27 June, 2022.
Project-Based Inquiry Global in Science Education
The National Research Council defined inquiry as an iterative, student-centered learning process that involves making observations; posing questions; examining books and other sources of information to see what is already known; planning investigations; reviewing what is already known in light of experimental evidence; using tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data; proposing answers, explanations, and predictions; and communicating the results. In particular, inquiry learning is a long-standing tradition in science education and is prominently featured in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), specifically in the Science and Engineering Practices dimension. 
inquiry-based learning Project-Based Inquiry (PBI) Global science content knowledge

1. Introduction

The teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) receives considerable attention among educators, researchers, and policymakers due to the powerful influence foundational STEM experiences play in educational and economic advancement [1]. According to the U.S. Department of Education [2] report STEM 2026: A Vision for Innovation in STEM Education, the need for STEM knowledge and skills will continue to grow and “graduates who have practical and relevant STEM precepts embedded into their educational experiences will be in high demand in all jobs” (p. i).
A pedagogical approach that aligns with the real-world relevancy and career-readiness focus of STEM is inquiry learning [3].
Dewey [4] contended that scientific knowledge is the product of inquiry and recommended a shift in science education from emphasizing facts during instruction to cultivating thinkers [5][6][7]. Krajcik and Blumenfeld [8] also asserted that students “learn and apply important ideas in the discipline” while engaged in inquiry toward answering a driving question (p. 318). Science education has continued to develop and implement curricula based on constructivist theories and inquiry-based approaches to learning [9]. Inquiry-based learning is established through student questioning and the exploration of new knowledge for the purpose of integration with prior knowledge and skills. With an inquiry-based approach to learning, teachers do not establish themselves as lecturers or purveyors of information; rather, students are positioned as leaders in the unfolding of their own education.
Moreover, inquiry-based approaches in the classroom are valuable because they allow students to increase science content knowledge, as well as practice skills needed in the 21st century workplace [10]. Inquiry-based learning is a process of discovering new causal relations, with the learner formulating hypotheses and testing them by conducting experiments and/or making observations [7]. Through open-ended group work (components of inquiry), students engage in activity that closely reflects scientists’ research processes [5][11]. Thus, Barrow [5] asserted that teachers of all grades should value inquiry. In fact, there is a diverse array of studies that underscore inquiry’s effectiveness in the middle and secondary education levels [12] and several research studies that support the effectiveness of inquiry-based learning as an instructional approach appropriate for students of all ages [13][14].
An essential component of inquiry is appropriate instructional scaffolds that can support student thinking as they are learning new concepts. Often, inquiry as a pedagogical tool is established through an overarching, or guiding, problem apportioned into smaller components for scaffolding [15]. Successful inquiry-based learning happens when teachers act as guides who “nudge” students forward into their “Zone of Proximal Development” as students and teachers collaborate and problem solve in long-term projects [16].

2. Project-Based Learning (PBL)

PBL is experiencing renewed attention in the educational landscape. Researchers have defined PBL in a variety of ways over the years. The Buck Institute for Education [17] defines PBL as “a teaching method in which students learn actively by engaging in real world and personally meaningful projects” (np). Wilhelm et al. [3] examine the role of the teacher in PBL, noting the importance of instructional milieu in successful project-based endeavors. Across various conceptions of project-based approaches, core features include: (1) a challenging problem or question [3][18]; (2) student voice and choice; (3) authentic community engagement; (4) benchmark lessons/activities [19]; (5) reflection, critique, and revision [17]; and (6) public product.
One of the long-standing premises drawn from a Deweyian perspective is that PBL, as a contemporary example of learning by doing, increases student motivation [20][21]. Research focused on the student outcomes of learning through project-based approaches is promising in terms of academic content knowledge as well [22]. One study of high school students with teachers who participated in the Buck Institute PBLWorks professional learning demonstrated statistically significant growth in reading, math, and history when compared to peers whose teachers did not participate in professional learning [23]. As the most definitive experimental study of PBL to date, Duke et al. [24] conducted a cluster randomized control trial of second-grade students engaged in PBL in which students demonstrated higher growth in social studies content and informational reading. Although with elementary students, it demonstrates that PBL can result in student learning gains as opposed to just motivational gains as other studies have demonstrated. Moreover, Craig and Marshall [25] found, through a randomized control study of secondary students at a nationally recognized model STEM school, that students taught through PBL matched the performance of conventionally taught students for the 11th-grade science and 9th-, 10th-, and 11th-grade mathematics achievement measures and exceeded the conventionally taught students’ performance for the 10th-grade science achievement measure.
A limitation is how PBL can be implemented collaboratively across school sites. In their metasynthesis of PBL, Minner et al. [12] found that only 6% of PBL studies (8 out of 138) encompassed multiple settings.

3. Project-Based Inquiry (PBI) Global: A PBL Instructional Exemplar

As a type of PBL, PBI Global has a defined, five-phase, collaborative inquiry cycle and focuses students’ research on one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An impact-driven pedagogy, PBI Global alters traditional classroom instruction through a hands-on, minds-on approach to learning, encouraging students to make sense of their world, locally and globally, through inquiry.
PBI Global Cycle. PBI Global has five phases, including composing a compelling question, gathering and analyzing sources, creatively synthesizing claims and evidence, critically evaluating and revising research findings, and finally, communicating (i.e., share, publish, and act) learning products to a larger audience. Typically, prior to developing compelling questions, students engage in background knowledge building by reading a narrative or informational text. PBI Global has three distinguishing inquiry cycle features that differentiate it from other models of inquiry-based learning, such as the 5Es instructional model [26], the C3 Teachers Inquiry Design Model [27], and the International Baccalaureate inquiry process [28]. Those features are (1) a focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals as the framework for learners’ solutions-oriented inquiry; (2) an interdisciplinary approach to the inquiry cycle; and (3) an explicit call for students to take social action as a result of their inquiry findings.


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