This study reports an investigation of the use of inquiry-based learning (IBL) by chemistry teachers in three secondary schools in Jambi city, a regional area in Indonesia. The aim of the study was to investigate a recent requirement in the high school curriculum for the use of inquiry. The science education literature in Indonesia confirmed local anecdotal evidence that there was little uptake of inquiry pedagogies in the region.
The study was designed to investigate the practices of a small group of participating teachers and to explore their ability to implement inquiry. The study used a qualitative and quantitative mixed-method approach to collect data. Background information for the design of the study was obtained from a survey of 62 chemistry teachers in Jambi city. The results of the survey confirmed the nature of the problem; very few teachers were using IBL and most had little understanding or experience of the method. As a result, an intervention involving a professional learning workshop followed by mentored implementation in the classroom was developed.
Data from all the four phases of the study was collected; the survey and the pre-intervention interviews, the professional learning workshop, the implementation observations and the final evaluation interviews. Eight teachers from three well-regarded schools in Jambi participated in the study. The pre-intervention interviews provided evidence that they were representative of the larger survey cohort. In the three day workshop, the teachers experienced structured, guided and open inquiry experiments and unanimously chose to implement the guided-inquiry experiment.
Analysis of the data from the different instruments demonstrated that, while all teachers were able to implement the experiments, half were able to apply the advanced features and skills of inquiry. This suggests that, like their counterparts in developed countries, these teachers have the pedagogical skills for inquiry but lacked the pedagogical-content knowledge prior to the intervention. The issue of the guidance that teachers provided in the classrooms was found to be a particularly useful feature for gauging the authenticity of the inquiry implementation. While several key features of inquiry were identified in the study, teachers used a variety of strategies to overcome the constraints on implementation in forming recommendations for practice.