The main objective of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of inquiry-based science education in Human biology lessons at the university level and compare this efficacy with traditional laboratory works using “cookbook” manuals written by teachers. Pre-tests and post-tests were used to measure the level of students’ knowledge and scientific skills before the set of laboratory works and after. By knowledge, we understand the content knowledge of Human physiology, e.g., understanding of terms and phenomena, and by scientific skills, we understand operations students need to know to be able to design their own experiments, interpret their findings and set final conclusions. Biology major (N = 53) and non-biology major (N = 115) students of the University were involved in this study. They attended a one-term course and were divided into two groups, an experimental one (N = 98) with an inquiry-based science education (IBSE) approach and a control group (N = 70) based on traditional laboratory works where students follow step-by-step the instructions by the teacher.
We found that IBSE led to a similar or slightly higher acquirement of knowledge in comparison to traditional labs, but this effect was not statistically different. A significant change was found in relation to the level of new skills acquirement of students where students from the experimental group with IBSE approach achieved better results. We also compared efficacy among non-biology and biology major students and no differences in IBSE efficacy based on the type of the study programme were found there.
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