Crystal Machado, professor in the Department of Professional Studies in Education, and Lizoon Nahar, a Curriculum and Instruction doctoral candidate, published the paper “Influence of a Multiphase Inquiry-based Learning Project on Students' Science Literacy" in the Journal of Education in Science, Environment, and Health in August 2023.


Globally, fewer students are choosing careers in science. In developing countries like Bangladesh, this attrition is often attributed to limited access to laboratories, lack of qualified science teachers, and limited use of student-centered strategies (SCS). Educators are attempting to design professional development programs to empower teachers with innovative teaching methods that will eventually boost enrolment in STEM-related fields. With this end in mind, we designed a six-month-long grant-funded project that equipped five urban schools in Bangladesh with 20 science toolkits. We also provided 20 science teachers and five site coordinators with ongoing professional development to support the use of these toolkits with 109 students for inquiry-based learning (IBL). Using an explanatory sequential design, we analyzed quantitative and qualitative data from three surveys. We also used transcripts from interviews with five site coordinators and four Zoom panel presentations to understand the numeric findings. While quantitative analysis with SPSS revealed that teacher-centered strategies (TCS) continue to be widespread in Bangladesh, we noted that the IBL project influenced student outcomes in several ways. The qualitative data confirmed that teachers who receive training and support over an extended period implemented SCS quite effectively. Both quantitative and qualitative findings revealed that a shift from TCS to SCS enhanced students' ability to hypothesize, experiment, and make real-life connections. In this paper, we describe statistically significant differences in the student’s knowledge across curriculum types and gender. We also describe the influence of the project on student attitudes.