Broadening Interest in Science Through Inquiry-Based Learning in Undergraduate Social Science Classrooms


  • Nikole Patson Ohio State University
  • Tessa Warren University of Pittsburgh


inquiry-based learning, underserved students, guided discussion, nature of science, interest in science


Despite the fact that a basic level of science understanding has become critical for every day decision-making, public interest in science in the United States is low, especially among women and individuals from minoritized groups. In light of this, there is a need for educational practices that encourage the broadening of participation in the scientific enterprise. This paper has three objectives. The first is to present an overview of the learning benefits of inquiry-based instruction as implemented in STEM-related fields, with a focus on traditionally underserved students (women, students from minoritized groups, and first-generation students). The second is to reflect on one model for implementing inquiry into a classroom situated in the social sciences. Finally, the article presents the argument that the implementation of inquiry-based practices into courses in the social sciences may serve to broaden public interest and participation in the scientific enterprise. This is because women and students from minoritized groups are much more likely to major in social sciences than STEM-related fields.