Individual Work is Key for Young Scientists

The value of solo lab work is often overlooked in the science classroom. The reason is obvious: Space, time, materials, and safety all make it difficult to do hands-on labs on an individual basis. Early in my teaching career, I was lucky enough to attend a training, held at a local college, designed entirely around training teachers in the inquiry/science practices so we would feel comfortable and confident in assigning many hands-on labs across the course of a school year.

I had a solid system down with assigned roles for each lab and a process that seemed to be succeeding. I only had one problem, over ⅓ of my students were failing their work samples. This is the reason that I decided to utilize Inq-ITS in my classroom.

The first thing that became apparent upon using Inq-ITS was that I had no idea who was flailing and who was excelling when I was assigning every single lab to a group of four students. I quickly found that I had some students who were suffering in silence, but thanks to the Inq-ITS alerts, I suddenly had a dashboard letting me know who needed assistance and the words to say to help them get back on track.

The second thing I noticed was that some of my students were excelling at the individual assessments within Inq-ITS, but they had been failing at their group labs. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but the pattern was occurring in every single one of my six classes. In every class I had at least two quiet female students who were doing amazingly well at the individual assessments, but in their groups they had been parroting the work of very loud and confident boys in their groups. The process of completing the Inq-ITS tasks gave these girls the confidence they needed to speak up in their lab groups and I quickly heard, “you can’t change two things or we won’t know what caused the change” in every single class. It was amazing! Friday was International Women and Girls in Science Day so I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage all of us to give our students the chance to complete hands-on labs and individual assessments that will give them the practice and confidence they need to excel.