How Do Teachers Utilize iPads to Enhance the Quantity and Quality of Inquiry-Based Pedagogy within STEM Classrooms?

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Nicholas Sauers, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Patricia Carter, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

James Kahrs, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Sonja Alexander, Ed.D.



This study adds to a growing body of research around inquiry-based instruction with the use of mobile devices in STEM classrooms. Through the social constructivist paradigm, descriptive research was conducted with the intent of gaining an understanding of the influence a mobile device (iPad) has on the quantity and quality of inquiry-based instruction in a STEM learning environment within a science classroom. A purposeful selection of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade science classrooms were observed in a single-gender middle school currently seeking STEM certification in an urban school district. Participants in this study included three science teachers who are currently teaching in a middle school, seeking STEM program certification and are working to implement inquiry based strategies in their classrooms to increase STEM literacy.

The measure of inquiry-based instruction was conducted through the Electronic Quality of Inquiry Protocol (EQUIP). EQUIP was designed to provide a framework for evaluating the quality and quantity of inquiry-based instruction in science and math classrooms. This qualitative case study includes demographic information, classroom observations to measure the quality and quantity of inquiry instruction, and teacher and student narratives. The intent was to assess inquiry-based instruction in the STEM learning environment. Through 25 classroom observations of sixth, seventh, and eight grade science classrooms, findings for this study showed promising results around the use of a mobile device on the quantity and quality of inquiry-based instruction in a STEM learning environment. The study presented an operable definition around inquiry-based instruction. These strategies were the central focus for the study. Inquiry practices identified to have been facilitated around the use of the iPad in a STEM learning environment were examining sources of information, planning investigations, and communicating results. According to the EQUIP rubric, which scores inquiry instruction on a continuum that includes the following levels: Pre-Inquiry, Developing Inquiry, Proficient Inquiry and Exemplary Inquiry. The quality and quantity of inquiry instruction identified in this study occurred at Developing Inquiry. This study concluded that a mobile device (iPad) could aid in the use and implementation of inquiry instruction. However, it also became clear that simply introducing a mobile device to instruction didn’t ensure that high levels of inquiry based instruction were taking place.

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