Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Christine Lotter


Decline in the economic realm often bolsters an increase of nontraditional student enrollments in colleges and universities (Windolf, 1992). Many of these students, who do not desire to major in some scientific area, find themselves struggling in required science courses. Over the last decade, science departments of higher education have been adjusting their curriculum to include inquiry in the college science classroom. Although inquiry-based teaching has been shown to be very academically positive in science classrooms from K-12, “at the college level the data are mixed as to whether increasing inquiry instruction can significantly change students’ learning or attitudes toward science” (Brickman et al., 2009, p. 3). To help delineate this controversy, more data are needed regarding the effectiveness of inquiry on students’ conceptual understanding and attitudes toward science. Further, little research has addressed student academic and attitude changes when entire college science courses are transformed from traditional approaches to more inquiry-based approaches. Finally, investigations on how to improve the learning of nontraditional, nonscience major students taking science courses is absent from the literature. This study has added insight in helping address these gaps in this area of research. Anticipated hypothesis that inquiry would significantly generate a more positive attitude toward science was supported. However, anticipated hypotheses that inquiry would significantly impact attitude toward inquiry teaching and overall content achievement was rejected. However, inquiry students showed significant content achievement on questions dealing with the process of science or scientific practices.


© 2015, Daniel A. Kiernan