Science departments in higher education have been adjusting their curricula to include more inquiry-based instruction, and research on inquiry-based teaching at the collegiate level has been increasing. However, more data are needed regarding the effectiveness of inquiry-based pedagogy in improving students' conceptual understanding and attitudes toward science. The investigation described here was focused on nontraditional students taking non-science-major science courses. The goal was to compare students' attitudes toward science before and after taking an inquiry-based or a traditional science course. The hypothesis that the inquiry-based course would significantly generate a more positive attitude toward science was supported. Nontraditional students' perceptions of an effective science curriculum were also explored. Students' perceptions were very positive regarding inquiry-based learning; however, those who had not been previously taught through inquiry-based methods had reserved perceptions of this teaching approach. Regardless of the course they were enrolled in, students agreed overall that an effective science curriculum includes three common themes: connection, interaction, and application.

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