Online Inquiry-Based Learning in Biology: An Experiment in the Use of Virtual Laboratories

Online Inquiry-Based Learning in Biology: An Experiment in the Use of Virtual Laboratories

Aline Coêlho dos Santos (Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil), Priscila Cadorin Nicolete (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) and Juarez Bento da Silva (Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5790-6.ch019

Abstract

A number of experimental studies have been conducted to explore the relationship between inquiry-based learning and the use of online experiments carried out remotely or virtually. Researchers have studied the effect of these techniques in STEM-centered modules (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in recent years, as a way to better integrate educational technology to the school context, as well as providing the students with high-quality education. Within this scenario, a biology lecture on nervous impulses was presented following (1) the construction of an inquiry-based online course, as well as inquiry cycle, from which students had at their disposal a series of steps to research the subject, including testing practices through virtual laboratories; (2) application of the educational tool in biology classes; (3) identification the students' progression regarding the understanding of the content explored in the research phases and their perception regarding their learning and usefulness of the educational tool.
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Questions, Challenges And Tendencies

In recent years, there has been an emphasis on developing curricula and programs geared towards teaching STEM modules, as these subjects are widely seen as a means to encourage innovation and boost national economies. Thus, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are extremely important areas for school education, as they develop the necessary skills to respond to advances in science and technology in today's society. Qualifications in these areas play a key role in a wide range of occupations of modern day society because we live in a highly technological and competitive world, with innovation, research and technological change being key to the development of countries.

However, Brazil, especially, presents a low student success rate in these modules. According to Inep/MEC1 data from the results of the Prova Brazil test, which assesses Portuguese and Mathematics knowledge of elementary school students, only 39% of Brazilian students learnt the appropriate solving math problems skills up to year 5, and for elementary school II (year 6 to 9) was only 14% in the public-school system in 2015. (INEP / MEC, 2015).

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