What the Inquiry Ratings Mean

Buck et al. (2008) identified five levels of inquiry: confirmation, structured, guided, open and authentic. These levels are evaluated based on how closely the lab aligns with six characteristics of the scientific process. These characteristics are: the problem/question, theory/background, procedures/design, results analysis, results communication, and conclusions. These are described as being either provided or not provided for the student. If the information is not provided, it is up to the student to engage in a decision-making process about how to proceed, which results in a more inquiry-based experience. In the original rubric and Ryker & McConnell's (2017) adaptation of it, the characteristics that are provided define the level of inquiry. In our adaptation, we define inquiry levels based on the number of characteristics provided. Confirmation activities provide all 6 pieces of information to students, structured 4-5 characteristics, guided 3, open 1-2, and authentic none of the characteristics.