The implementation of an inquiry-based learning unit full of inquiry activities related to the systems of the human body will give students the opportunity to ask more questions, to discover scientific knowledge themselves, and to communicate more with other peers and the teacher, thus increasing their autonomy awareness (Sheerin, 1997) as well as developing their thinking skills while learning science in their second language within a student-centered classroom atmosphere.
My intention with this action research project is to contribute to the field of teaching and learning science in English, since this study will shed light about important issues related to how the level of autonomy awareness can be increased in a group of fourth grade students by means of applying an inquiry-based learning approach to science rather than a traditional teacher-centered methodology.
This study is relevant for the students, because it will help them improve in terms of learner autonomy. Learning to be autonomous is one of the most important objectives students must accomplish nowadays because the development of this skill makes them able to make decisions in an independent way after analyzing many possibilities, and because it is very helpful for students to be successful in any project or task they have to face in their daily lives (Luke, 2006).
This action research project is also pertinent for the educational institution for which I work, because it will lead teachers of the science department to reflect on the importance of including inquiry-based science activities in the units of the current science program to help students become more autonomous while developing critical thinking skills.
Students who use inquiry to learn science engage in many of the same activities and thinking processes as scientists who are seeking to expand human knowledge of the natural world. The activities and thinking processes used by scientists will become more familiar to the educators seeking to introduce inquiry into their science classrooms. Both students and teachers will be able to use inquiry to learn how to do science, learn about the nature of science, and learn science content (Olson, 2000).