This study investigated the nature and extent of inquiry practices in high school science classrooms in a South African city. The study comprised of two phases, namely a small survey followed by a multi-case study. Data were collected using a questionnaire during the survey followed by interviews and classroom lesson observations during the multi-case study. The respondents were Grade 10 science teachers in well performing city schools.
During the survey, I distributed a questionnaire to thirty schools in the city. Only ten teachers returned completed questionnaires. Four of these teachers agreed to participate in the multi-case study.
Although the survey indicated that most of the teachers have a good understanding of the meaning of inquiry, and that they believe that inquiry is an effective teaching strategy, the actual practicing of inquiry based teaching was confirmed in only two classrooms during the study. In both cases, guided inquiry laboratory activities were observed. It was also found that some respondents misunderstood the meaning of inquiry teaching, regarding it as simply asking questions.
The findings from this study cannot be generalised to a larger population, however, they give a deeper insight into the situation in well performing city schools in the country.