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The Advantage and Disadvantages of Using the Inquiry Model in

Physics Teaching

Maria Alena A. Edora


Background of the Study

Usually, Physics is a subject defined as a study of matter, energy, motion and force. The

truth is that there is no fixed definition of Physics. The study of Physics is not only limited in the

study of matter, energy, motion and force. Physics is an evolving subject over time. Knowledge

about our universe accumulates; thus, our knowledge is not only restricted to the study of matter.

Theories change; a theory can be replaced by an even better formulated theory. Physics is

dynamic but it has a goal- a fixed goal. And that is to study and learn how our universe behaves.

If the subject of Physics, a subject that has no fixed definition and continues to evolve

over time, is to be taught; what would be the teachers best model of teaching? Since Physics has

a dynamic definition that could change over time then teaching it through the definition might

not be the best option. Physics needs to be taught in a way that the learners higher order thinking

should be tapped. In that way, fulfilling the goal of the subject which is to learn how our

universe behaves. Thus, this leads us to the Information Processing Family and one of its models:

The Inquiry Model that originated from J. Richard Suchman (Inquiry Training Model, 2011).

Though this may be an appropriate model for teaching Physics, there are still

disadvantages that arise from using this model. Therefore, the researcher would like to study

more about what are the possible disadvantages and advantages of the model when used in

teaching Physics to further improve the quality of teaching.

Statement of the Problem

This research aims to determine the disadvantages and advantages of using the Inquiry

Model in teaching Physics. Furthermore, some questions may follow as:

a. What are the independent variables in determining the disadvantages and advantages of

using the Inquiry model in teaching Physics?

b. How can these disadvantages and advantages affect the quality of education received by

the students?

Significance of the Study

The gathered data from this study can contribute on the knowledge about the

improvement of using the Inquiry Model of the Information Processing Family in Physics

teaching. By further analyzing the disadvantages, the quality of Physics teaching can be

improved by finding a possible solution in the problems that might arise from the disadvantages

of using the Inquiry Model in teaching Physics.

In summary, the results from the study might help as a basis of what can be improved

from the Inquiry Model to achieve a quality Physics education.

Scope and Limitations

This study is focused only on analyzing available resources to come up with the data

about the disadvantages and advantages of using the Inquiry Model in teaching Physics. There

will be no interview to be conducted or data collected through expensive means.


The Inquiry Model

The inquiry model, developed by Richard Suchman, is a model that teaches students

through inquiry; in a sense that they are the ones who asks the questions and figures it out

themselves while guided by the teacher. This model of teaching is a student-centered approach

where the teacher usually acts as a facilitator guiding the students towards achieving the goal of

learning instead of the traditional teacher who provides the knowledge needed to be learned by

the students.

The syntax of the inquiry model includes five phases where in (Siddiqui, 2013):

1. The first phase is where the students first encounter the puzzling situation that the teacher

has presented. In this phase, the teacher will discuss the objectives and also the

procedures on how the students will gather the details about the problem which is by

asking questions that are answerable by yes or no. It is not always the case that the

situation should always be puzzling, it can be also be a problem which the students dont

know the answer in.

2. The second phase is the data gathering verification. Here, the interaction between

teachers and students start where the students will throw questions at the teacher to verify

their thoughts and the teacher will answer the students questions only by yes or no. The

questions formulated by students will come from their own experiences and stock

knowledge related to the situation. If a student asks a question that the teacher think is

irrelevant with the topic, the teacher may say that it is irrelevant in a not offending way

and that the student may ask another question. If a student asks a question that is not

answerable by yes or no, or if a student asks a complex question that is unclear to the
teacher, the teacher may make the student restate the question. The questions will be

guided in such way that unnecessary questions that may divert the topic will be

3. The third phase is the data gathering experimentation. After the situation has been

clarified, the teacher will present something which can be in a form data or materials that

can be experimented by the students. This is the phase where students gather relevant

variables form the experiment. The teachers role is to guide the students on the findings

they are formulating while performing the experiment because there might be variables a

student may have disproved when it shouldnt be.

4. The fourth phase is the formulation of an explanation. At this phase, the teacher will let

the students formulate an explanation on the presented situation using the data obtained.

The teacher may ask more about the formulation of explanation from the students to

obtain different perspectives on the topic. If there are information that are missed or

information that cannot be obtained during the last phases, the teacher may explain it to

the students.
5. The fifth phase is the analysis of the inquiry process. The last phase includes the

discussion about what questions led them to obtain the right data and what makes the

questions effective. Simply put, this is where the teachers and students together analyze

the inquiry process which can improve the students questioning skills.

Teaching Physics through the inquiry model

Physics is a branch of science that we usually define as a study of matter. But as time

goes by, Physics field increases vastly from matter to things we cannot consider as matter like

ether (which has no mass but occupies space). Therefore, in teaching Physics, a teacher should

use a model wherein it requires the learners to tap their high order thinking skills- a kind of
thinking that will let them understand the gears behind the Physics concepts, mostly by

themselves and not all from a knowledgeable other. This kind of thinking from the learners can

be accomplished through the Inquiry Model from the Information Processing Family. In this

model, Physics can be taught in an inquiry way where the students develop their own questions

and figures it out themselves by letting them explore some things that may lead to their own

understanding of the concept while the teacher acts as a guide to the learning process of the

student. For example, teaching the concept of gravity to the students through inquiry. A teacher

might let the students be aware first of the objects falling to the ground by letting each of them

pick an object and let it fall down. And then ask them, Why did it fall? Then theyll proceed to

the process until theyve learned it.

Advantages of using the inquiry model

There are already several conducted studies about teaching science by inquiry that shows

that it is a suitable model for science teaching. According to a study from the University of

Texas, when students learn science by inquiry, the process of inquiry becomes the means by

which the currently accepted science knowledge is better understood. Through learning science

as inquiry, students also better understand how scientists developed the currently accepted body

of science knowledge. Hence the students learn to apply these processes in order to go beyond

the information needed to discover new knowledge (McBride, 2004). In teaching Physics,

this kind of model is appropriate since it taps the students high order thinking which is needed

for them to apply what theyve learn to transcend and create ideas out of the box. The students,

in this case, can fully understand a science concept since they figured it out by themselves. Thus,

they can be able to apply these concepts easily to create new ideas or possibly theories that will
contribute to the field of Physics. Plus, figuring something out by themselves acknowledges the

diversity of ideas among students that will also contribute to the Physics world.

In short, the advantage of Inquiry model in teaching Physics is that it requires critical

thinking skill of the students which is further improved through this model and which is

significant to students learning of not only Physics but other natural sciences and subject also. It

also teaches the students how to ask effective questions in the future.

Disadvantages of using the inquiry model

However, using the Inquiry Model in teaching Physics has also disadvantages. As the

aforementioned study states, learning science concepts by inquiry is much more time consuming

than learning concepts by traditional methods (McBride, 2004). Take for example the

concept of gravity; it takes technically more time in a way that a teacher needs to make the

students curious first before proceeding to the next step of the process (given that the teacher acts

as a facilitator not a provider of knowledge), than just providing the definition of gravity to the

students. Other than being time-consuming, the Inquiry Model is also limited to some students.

According to an article about the Inquiry Model, inquiry doesn't work for some students. These

teachers claimed that inquiry was only effective with bright students, and it caused too many

problems with lower ability students (Inquiry Model, 2000). In addition, the inquiry model is

also expensive in a way that they teach Physics as inquiry which can be through experimenting

and manipulating things which requires equipment.

Given these disadvantages, the inquiry model cannot be as good as it proposes. It will be

unsuccessful in a sense that if these disadvantages are present in a classroom setting, the students

may not learn anything from the lesson.

Summary and Conclusion

The inquiry model is a suitable method of teaching Physics since it taps the students

higher order skills. Its advantageous in a way that the model is teaching the students how to

think and not what to think in the subject Physics. The knowledge that they have learned will be

utilized in a way that they can contribute new ideas or theories in the field of Physics. More

importantly, the inquiry model also trains the students to ask the right questions. Even though

that it is a model perfect in teaching Physics, there are also disadvantages that may lead to an

unsuccessful learning of a student. These disadvantages are namely: the model is time-

consuming, limited to some students and relatively expensive. If these cannot be solved, this may

lead to minimize the learning of a student.

It is important that the advantages and disadvantages of the inquiry model are learned by

the teacher so he/she will be able to utilize the model that will lead to the students successful

learning of the subject.


McBride, J. W., Bhatti, M. I., Hannan, M. A., & Feinberg, M. (2004). Using an inquiry approach

to teach science to secondary school science teachers. 2. Retrieved March 7, 2016, from

Inquiry Models of Teaching. (n.d.). Retrieved March 7, 2016, from

Inquiry Training Model. (2011). 1. Retrieved from

Siddiqui, M. H. (2013). Inquiry Training Model of Teaching : A Search of Learning. 2(3), 109.

Retrieved May 27, 2016, from