While the inquiry approach to science teaching has been widely recommended as an epistemic mechanism to promote deep content understanding, there is also increased expectation that process and other transferable skills should be integral part of science pedagogy. To test the hypothesis that coupling process skills to content teaching impacts academic success measures, we meta-analyzed twenty-one studies (n = 21) involving 7876 students that compared Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL), a pedagogy that provides opportunities for improving process skills during content learning through guided-inquiry activities, to standard lecture conditions. Based on conventional measures of class performance, POGIL had a small effect on achievement outcomes (effect size = 0.29, [95% CI = 0.15–0.43]) but substantially improved the odds of passing a class (odds ratio = 2.02, [95% CI: 1.45–2.83]). That is, participants in the POGIL pedagogy had higher odds of passing a course and roughly performed 0.3 standard deviations higher on achievement measures than participants in standard lectures. In relative risk terms, POGIL reduced the risk of failing a course by 38%. These findings suggest providing opportunities to improve process skills during class instruction does not inhibit content learning but enhances conventional success measures. We compare these findings with those of recent large meta-analysis that examined the effects of global active learning methods on achievement outcomes and course failure rates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
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© 2017 Walker, Warfa. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.