The University of Chicago’s Jeanne Century  and two of her colleagues have received the 2011 Journal of Research in Science Teaching Award for their article on “Inquiry–Based Science Instruction — What is it and does it matter? Results from a research synthesis years 1984 to 2002.”
Century is director of research and evaluation and science education at the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education . Her article with Daphne Minner  and Abigail Jurist Levy  of the Educational Development Center Inc.  (EDC) in Massachusetts appeared in the April 2010 issue of the journal, which is published by the National Association of Research in Science Teaching .
The co–authors analyzed 138 studies on the impact of inquiry–based instruction on K–12 student learning and retention, and found generally positive outcomes. The inquiry–based approach incorporates hands–on activities to help students to learn scientific concepts, while the traditional, more passive approach emphasizes student recall of facts, concepts and theories.
“This overall finding indicates that having students actively think about and participate in the investigation process increases their science conceptual learning,” wrote Minner, Levy and Century.