Teaching scientific inquiry in large interdisciplinary classes is a challenge. We describe a creative problem-based learning approach, using a motivational island crisis scenario, to inspire research design. Students were empowered to formulate their individual scientific inquiry and then guided to develop a testable hypothesis, aims, and objectives in designing a research proposal. Personalized data sets matched to the research objectives were provided to individual students for analysis and presentation. This technique helps students to gain critical insights into the global value of interdisciplinary collaboration toward solving complex real-world problems. Students learn the front end of research, how to formulate a line of scientific inquiry and design an innovative research project—both important skills for them as tomorrow's leaders and entrepreneurs.

Introduction

The belief that doing scientific research is enough for students to understand scientific inquiry is a misconception shared with the research on the nature of science (Wong & Hudson, 2009). With a strong focus on knowledge, the doing of science seems to take precedence over learning to think about novel solutions to problems. Research design incorporating creativity at the front end of critical thinking allows students to master research skills in initiating research investigations. Also, in part, undergraduate students’ low perceptions and attitudes about research reflect their lack of willingness to engage in future research activities (Kamwendo & Tornquist, 2001; Newhouse, 2016). Therefore a valuable and enjoyable experience in learning scientific inquiry has far-reaching impact in future life skills of science graduates, even applicable beyond the science fields. Providing a learning framework in the form of a shared problem to solve unites students taking diverse science majors in large class sizes. Here, the problem-based learning (PBL) approach forms the focus, and is presented in the form of a virtual world scenario termed the “Paradise Puzzle,” specifically created to teach students about independent, curiosity-driven scientific inquiry. This study has relevance to the challenges in teaching scientific inquiry with development of the student as the researcher in large classes with different science majors. Student survey responses were conducted voluntarily online to seek responses to this approach to learning research skills, largely conceptual in the ability to think critically and develop ideas in the line of scientific inquiry.

Problem-Based Learning (PBL)

A PBL is a presentation of an open-ended problem that can be investigated to find solutions (Barrows, 1996; Wood, 2003). It is primarily student-centered, allowing explorative learning of in-depth real-world issues with triggers to direct critical thinking of specific topics. Students’ attitudes to learning basic sciences in a PBL-based curriculum have been found to be more positive than students in a conventional lecture-based curriculum (Kaufman & Mann, 1997; Ingrassia et al., 2014). It has been perceived by students to promote self-directed learning and help create interest leading to better understanding (Preeti et al., 2013; Schmidt et al., 2011). The PBL model scenario was designed to be open-ended to address interdisciplinary research and to capture the attention of undergraduate university students studying research skills unit BSC200 (301 enrolled students in 2016). The large class encompassed second-year undergraduate students taking different majors in the physical sciences (mathematics, mineral science, physics and nanotechnology, chemistry), life sciences (animal science and health, environment sciences and management, marine science, conservation and wildlife biology, crop and pastures science, biomedical science, forensic science, biological science, laboratory clinical science and medicine, molecular biology, genetics) and education (primary and secondary teaching with science majors). A major aim was to develop core skills in thinking about approaches to interdisciplinary research within the context of a discipline

The Paradise Puzzle Scenario

The PBL was designed to focus on the thinking behind scientific research rather than the practical aspects of doing the science. The thought process of progressing a science-related idea for research is three-fold. First an area of interest (one piece of the puzzle) is identified as students work with their own knowledge. Second the literature is searched to find more knowledge that they admit they don't know. Third, now empowered with relevant knowledge, students are able to use this to apply or seek further understanding of the PBL in the form of a scientific question, which could then be developed and submitted as a research proposal.

Research inquiry was a specific learning outcome that was to be initiated by students formulating a single line of inquiry, providing an opportunity to learn how to think about significant real-world problems and develop innovative approaches to solve them. Students were provided with a template and grading rubrics (Table 1) to prepare a research proposal, which was submitted, assessed, and feedback given using an online learning management system. With the aim to teach research skills of scientific inquiry so that students learn the front end of doing research, the PBL scenario Paradise Puzzle was designed to engage students’ curiosity. The scenario is presented as a narrative, unfolding in a series of episodes (Table 2).

Table 1.
Research proposal grading rubric. Written communication of a research proposal uses skills to present an idea, a line of scientific inquiry into an integrated research project. It may involve learning different fields of research across science disciplines.
ModulesBeginnerNoviceCompetent
Title engages the reader, and introduction draws on current knowledge Title does not reflect the content of the research proposal, lacks focus, and is uninteresting. Introduction addresses little current knowledge. Title is too wordy and does not capture the most important features of the proposal. Introduction addresses some current knowledge. Title is precisely worded, focused, and intriguing. It engages active reading of the proposal. Introduction strongly addresses current knowledge pertinent to the problem to be solved. 
Synthesis of a testable hypothesis, aims and objectives Expresses a poor hypothesis, lacking specific measurements for testing. Expresses a hypothesis but with unrelated objectives for testing. Expresses a clear hypothesis with related objectives for testing. 
Rationale for proposed experiments and statistical tests Describes experiments without explanations of data analysis. Describes experiments with inconsistent reasoning behind the hypothesis and poor data analysis. Describes experiments with clear thought to hypothesis testing, and conveys meaning of data through appropriate statistical analysis to optimise outcomes. 
Creativity and coherence of the proposal Shows little creativity to advance concept(s) and incoherence in describing the thinking used to consider the problem. Shows some creativity to advance concept(s) and coherence in describing the significance of their innovative approach to address the problem. Shows great creativity to advance concept(s) and high coherence in describing their sequence of thought used to solve the problem. 
Formatted appropriately with selection and citation of references Demonstrates no structure, lacking subheadings for sections. No use of references to support ideas. No citations. Demonstrates some structure with minimal attention to context of sections. Inappropriate and inconsistent use of references with underdeveloped explanation about their selection. Incorrect citations. Demonstrates well-defined structure with clear focus on purpose of each section. Appropriate references with clear interpretation and explanations of how they provide insights. Correct citations. 
ModulesBeginnerNoviceCompetent
Title engages the reader, and introduction draws on current knowledge Title does not reflect the content of the research proposal, lacks focus, and is uninteresting. Introduction addresses little current knowledge. Title is too wordy and does not capture the most important features of the proposal. Introduction addresses some current knowledge. Title is precisely worded, focused, and intriguing. It engages active reading of the proposal. Introduction strongly addresses current knowledge pertinent to the problem to be solved. 
Synthesis of a testable hypothesis, aims and objectives Expresses a poor hypothesis, lacking specific measurements for testing. Expresses a hypothesis but with unrelated objectives for testing. Expresses a clear hypothesis with related objectives for testing. 
Rationale for proposed experiments and statistical tests Describes experiments without explanations of data analysis. Describes experiments with inconsistent reasoning behind the hypothesis and poor data analysis. Describes experiments with clear thought to hypothesis testing, and conveys meaning of data through appropriate statistical analysis to optimise outcomes. 
Creativity and coherence of the proposal Shows little creativity to advance concept(s) and incoherence in describing the thinking used to consider the problem. Shows some creativity to advance concept(s) and coherence in describing the significance of their innovative approach to address the problem. Shows great creativity to advance concept(s) and high coherence in describing their sequence of thought used to solve the problem. 
Formatted appropriately with selection and citation of references Demonstrates no structure, lacking subheadings for sections. No use of references to support ideas. No citations. Demonstrates some structure with minimal attention to context of sections. Inappropriate and inconsistent use of references with underdeveloped explanation about their selection. Incorrect citations. Demonstrates well-defined structure with clear focus on purpose of each section. Appropriate references with clear interpretation and explanations of how they provide insights. Correct citations. 
Table 2.
The Paradise Puzzle as a PBL exercise to teach scientific inquiry.
EpisodesNarrative
Episode 1: Goodwill Research January: As an alternative to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to control climate change, a group of pioneering Australian geoengineers developed a road map at a Harvard think tank last year, devising a plan B to cool the planet. After analyzing modeling data, they wanted real-world data to make their models more accurate. They proposed to use the sky as their laboratory and asked the government for support of their solar radiation dispersal research project to explore the effects of seeding clouds with bismuth tri-iodide.
Aim: To induce ice particle formation, allowing more radiation to be emitted.
The geoengineers requested $10 million dollars from the Federal Government for their atmospheric research to conduct experiments using the correct flux of solar radiation, mix of chemicals, dynamics of aerosol particle interaction in gas, liquid, and solid phases. However, Minister for Environment “Dr. Klima,” who was a skeptic, advised the government agency that the research plan was impracticable and rejected their bid for funds. The determined geoengineers then sought alternative funding from a venture capitalist group, whose CEO “Mr. Reginald” was a rival of the Minister. They struck a deal and were supported with AUD $2 million. Funding was also contingent on transfer of intellectual property and full commercialization rights. 
Episode 2: Coral Cay July: “Capricorn Island” was chosen as the test site to alter the cloud cover. It is a coral cay (about 8,000 years old) off the mainland of Australia, accessible by boat and helicopter and with a low resident human population (85), mainly staff for eco-tours. The island has a resort, small school, research station, and local farm with free-range chickens and cows. The natural biodiversity is a key attraction for tourists, who visit the island by boat. The main form of transport on the island is the golf buggy. 
Episode 3: Heaven Dew September: After the start of the first cloud seeding there was light rainfall for the first week. However, in the second week the rainfall was increasingly heavy with large downpours. Sometimes sleet and hail were observed. To the delight of the “vulture” capitalists, their dream of a multimillion-dollar return on investment was being realized to commercialize their prized “Heaven Dew,” to be marketed worldwide as a natural taste of the tropics. A water-bottling pilot plant was set up on the island. 
Episode 4: Island Crisis December: Some loggerhead sea turtles washed up dead on the shores; however, this was largely ignored as many unnoticed deaths of sea turtles occurred in the ocean. The chickens were also sick on the island.
January, following year: A cruise ship of 1,000 passengers arrives.
The sea turtles continue dying, with 500 now dead in waters off the island.
“Most of the dead animals have sunk, making estimates difficult. We still don't have the full picture of how many turtles are affected or exactly how the infection has spread,” a scientist at the research station said.
Three days after the ship arrived, a passenger develops severe pneumonia and dies on January 10th. A further 20 people fall ill. Infections occur in both cruise passengers and employees on the island. The acutely sick are evacuated by helicopter back to the mainland for medical attention.
As the number of cases increases daily, passengers are sent back to the ship, and Australian health authorities declare mandatory quarantine of both the ship and the island after another five people die of the mystery illness ten days after the first fatality. This is to protect the Australian public by minimizing the entry of disease with pandemic potential. Penalties authorized under the Quarantine Act 1908 may apply with noncompliance. “The extreme virus has been detected in sick and dead chickens and sea turtles but not in cows, with the death toll being much higher than originally thought,” said a scientist.
It is difficult to know exactly how the virus jumps between birds and sea turtles, but it is clear that humans are an accidental host. An intense investigation named Operation Stormcloud to control the crisis was initiated by authorities with assistance from the Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta, U.S. 
Episode 5: Sabotage A recent outbreak of bird flu mixed with a secondary superbug on the island was a tragic result of a climate control experiment that went awfully wrong. Mr. Reginald, the CEO of a venture capital company and a well-known rival of Minister of Environment Dr. Klima, has raised suspicions of sabotage of the chemicals used to seed the cloud with a bacterial contaminant. The investigation is ongoing. 
Your Mission Although this scenario requires urgent control of the outbreak before it is unleashed on the mainland and causes the world's next epic disaster, it is your mission to help with these investigations through your own research.
Launched time capsule in a cosmic ocean: Interestingly, records of wildlife sounds and images of Capricorn island were included aboard the Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977 to represent the diversity of life on earth intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form.
Chose a research topic to study for this unit. 
EpisodesNarrative
Episode 1: Goodwill Research January: As an alternative to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to control climate change, a group of pioneering Australian geoengineers developed a road map at a Harvard think tank last year, devising a plan B to cool the planet. After analyzing modeling data, they wanted real-world data to make their models more accurate. They proposed to use the sky as their laboratory and asked the government for support of their solar radiation dispersal research project to explore the effects of seeding clouds with bismuth tri-iodide.
Aim: To induce ice particle formation, allowing more radiation to be emitted.
The geoengineers requested $10 million dollars from the Federal Government for their atmospheric research to conduct experiments using the correct flux of solar radiation, mix of chemicals, dynamics of aerosol particle interaction in gas, liquid, and solid phases. However, Minister for Environment “Dr. Klima,” who was a skeptic, advised the government agency that the research plan was impracticable and rejected their bid for funds. The determined geoengineers then sought alternative funding from a venture capitalist group, whose CEO “Mr. Reginald” was a rival of the Minister. They struck a deal and were supported with AUD $2 million. Funding was also contingent on transfer of intellectual property and full commercialization rights. 
Episode 2: Coral Cay July: “Capricorn Island” was chosen as the test site to alter the cloud cover. It is a coral cay (about 8,000 years old) off the mainland of Australia, accessible by boat and helicopter and with a low resident human population (85), mainly staff for eco-tours. The island has a resort, small school, research station, and local farm with free-range chickens and cows. The natural biodiversity is a key attraction for tourists, who visit the island by boat. The main form of transport on the island is the golf buggy. 
Episode 3: Heaven Dew September: After the start of the first cloud seeding there was light rainfall for the first week. However, in the second week the rainfall was increasingly heavy with large downpours. Sometimes sleet and hail were observed. To the delight of the “vulture” capitalists, their dream of a multimillion-dollar return on investment was being realized to commercialize their prized “Heaven Dew,” to be marketed worldwide as a natural taste of the tropics. A water-bottling pilot plant was set up on the island. 
Episode 4: Island Crisis December: Some loggerhead sea turtles washed up dead on the shores; however, this was largely ignored as many unnoticed deaths of sea turtles occurred in the ocean. The chickens were also sick on the island.
January, following year: A cruise ship of 1,000 passengers arrives.
The sea turtles continue dying, with 500 now dead in waters off the island.
“Most of the dead animals have sunk, making estimates difficult. We still don't have the full picture of how many turtles are affected or exactly how the infection has spread,” a scientist at the research station said.
Three days after the ship arrived, a passenger develops severe pneumonia and dies on January 10th. A further 20 people fall ill. Infections occur in both cruise passengers and employees on the island. The acutely sick are evacuated by helicopter back to the mainland for medical attention.
As the number of cases increases daily, passengers are sent back to the ship, and Australian health authorities declare mandatory quarantine of both the ship and the island after another five people die of the mystery illness ten days after the first fatality. This is to protect the Australian public by minimizing the entry of disease with pandemic potential. Penalties authorized under the Quarantine Act 1908 may apply with noncompliance. “The extreme virus has been detected in sick and dead chickens and sea turtles but not in cows, with the death toll being much higher than originally thought,” said a scientist.
It is difficult to know exactly how the virus jumps between birds and sea turtles, but it is clear that humans are an accidental host. An intense investigation named Operation Stormcloud to control the crisis was initiated by authorities with assistance from the Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta, U.S. 
Episode 5: Sabotage A recent outbreak of bird flu mixed with a secondary superbug on the island was a tragic result of a climate control experiment that went awfully wrong. Mr. Reginald, the CEO of a venture capital company and a well-known rival of Minister of Environment Dr. Klima, has raised suspicions of sabotage of the chemicals used to seed the cloud with a bacterial contaminant. The investigation is ongoing. 
Your Mission Although this scenario requires urgent control of the outbreak before it is unleashed on the mainland and causes the world's next epic disaster, it is your mission to help with these investigations through your own research.
Launched time capsule in a cosmic ocean: Interestingly, records of wildlife sounds and images of Capricorn island were included aboard the Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977 to represent the diversity of life on earth intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form.
Chose a research topic to study for this unit. 

Specific triggers in the scenario were provided to the students to stimulate learning and spur students along in shared learning experiences in robust tutorial discussions. The problems identified by students reflected their state of knowledge and to some extent were limited by their level of personal interest. Nonetheless, the degree of diversity amongst the student groups was remarkable, given their work on the same PBL scenario. Numerous questions were raised, which sparked further interest in the open-ended Paradise Puzzle. Some examples from a student are shown in Table 3. To encourage broad thinking of the different components of the scenario, a concept map was drawn to connect different pieces of the puzzle. This formed a tutorial activity performed by small groups of students with guidance from the tutor. Moreover, further background information about the island's ecology, flora, and fauna was also released to the students in the form of an island map, fact sheet, and newspaper article.

Table 3.
Examples of questions showing student's curiosity.
Question
1 Where is the missing geoengineers’ data in the months before the outbreak? 
2 Were there any noticeable differences in climate change, weather, ice particle formation, and solar radiation emission on the island? 
3 Did the humans catch the virus from the animals? 
4 Where did the avian-origin H10N1 influenza virus come from? 
5 Can other species act as a host for the virus? 
6 Is the natural biodiversity on the island affected? 
7 Why weren't the initial deaths of turtles and chickens investigated by authorities? 
8 Was the Heaven Dew water tested for toxins before being marketed to the public? 
9 How were water batches stored? 
10 Why did it rain heavily on the island soon after the clouding seeding? 
11 Why did Mr. Reginald believe that sabotage, bacterial contamination of the cloud seeding agent, had occurred? 
12 What is the relationship between viral and bacterial superinfection of humans? 
13 What ethical issues are raised by the climate control experiments supported by private funding? 
14 Why was the time capsule specifically mentioned? 
Question
1 Where is the missing geoengineers’ data in the months before the outbreak? 
2 Were there any noticeable differences in climate change, weather, ice particle formation, and solar radiation emission on the island? 
3 Did the humans catch the virus from the animals? 
4 Where did the avian-origin H10N1 influenza virus come from? 
5 Can other species act as a host for the virus? 
6 Is the natural biodiversity on the island affected? 
7 Why weren't the initial deaths of turtles and chickens investigated by authorities? 
8 Was the Heaven Dew water tested for toxins before being marketed to the public? 
9 How were water batches stored? 
10 Why did it rain heavily on the island soon after the clouding seeding? 
11 Why did Mr. Reginald believe that sabotage, bacterial contamination of the cloud seeding agent, had occurred? 
12 What is the relationship between viral and bacterial superinfection of humans? 
13 What ethical issues are raised by the climate control experiments supported by private funding? 
14 Why was the time capsule specifically mentioned? 

Next, virtual data was given to students at this stage. Data sets were assigned by the teacher to match individual student's research proposals for creative study designs. Simple data sets providing an example of a case study format matched to the proposed study design are shown in Table 4. This personalized approach inherently allowed students to experience the interpretation and understanding of their scientific writing by others. Here, the importance of control groups was exemplified when making sense of the data, considering reproducibility, and interacting factors for data interpretation.

Table 4.
Examples of matching data sets for student's research proposals.
TitleHypothesisAim
1. Can bacteriophage be the key to treating antibiotic resistant bacterial pathogens? Phage therapy can exert a greater influence in curtailing bacterial populations as compared to Ciprofloxacin in treating P. Aeruginosa infections in humans. Aim 1. Investigate the potency of phage therapy in relation to antibiotic Ciprofloxacin with in vitro phage experiments. 
 
2. Removal of carbohydrate from influenza A virus and the advances for a novel monoclonal antibody, a solution to influenza. Removal of significant amounts of carbohydrates from the stem region (HA2) of the HA would advance the development of a human monoclonal antibody that can bind to epitopes of all subtypes and cross-groups of the influenza A virus, neutralizing infectivity by preventing fusion. Aim 3. Characterize efficacy of monoclonal antibodies, and evaluate potency after challenge with influenza A virus. 
 
3. The effects of modern cloud seeding on Pseudomonas aeruginosaBismuth tri-iodide causes a significant mutation in present Pseudomonas bacterial strains in the waters of Capricorn Island, causing an increase in virulence due to an increased amount of toxins released and a faster bacterial division rate. Aim 1. Test water from different locations on Capricorn Island for the presence of Bismuth tri-iodide and its concentration. 
 
TitleHypothesisAim
1. Can bacteriophage be the key to treating antibiotic resistant bacterial pathogens? Phage therapy can exert a greater influence in curtailing bacterial populations as compared to Ciprofloxacin in treating P. Aeruginosa infections in humans. Aim 1. Investigate the potency of phage therapy in relation to antibiotic Ciprofloxacin with in vitro phage experiments. 
 
2. Removal of carbohydrate from influenza A virus and the advances for a novel monoclonal antibody, a solution to influenza. Removal of significant amounts of carbohydrates from the stem region (HA2) of the HA would advance the development of a human monoclonal antibody that can bind to epitopes of all subtypes and cross-groups of the influenza A virus, neutralizing infectivity by preventing fusion. Aim 3. Characterize efficacy of monoclonal antibodies, and evaluate potency after challenge with influenza A virus. 
 
3. The effects of modern cloud seeding on Pseudomonas aeruginosaBismuth tri-iodide causes a significant mutation in present Pseudomonas bacterial strains in the waters of Capricorn Island, causing an increase in virulence due to an increased amount of toxins released and a faster bacterial division rate. Aim 1. Test water from different locations on Capricorn Island for the presence of Bismuth tri-iodide and its concentration. 
 

Student Responses

A balance of the assessment tasks set out in the grading rubric for the Paradise Puzzle with the learning objectives for the unit was considered in keeping with the student-centered freedom to choose a topic for research. Although provision of personalized data subsets was demanding for the teacher, it was immensely rewarding and perceived as spectacular by the students. Student responses to the appropriateness of the Paradise Puzzle assignment for learning research skills was measured in a voluntary online survey completed by 114 students from the class size of 301. Given the statement, “The assessment tasks were appropriate to the learning objectives,” 89.4 percent of students agreed. Overall student satisfaction with the staff in the unit was 89.2 percent. The role of enthusiastic tutors was important in facilitating student discussions and activities, with emphasis on non-experts using their process facilitation expertise, rather than content expertise, to direct the tutorial group. This process has been shown to stimulate constructive, self-directed, situated, and collaborative student learning (Dolmans et al., 2002).

Written comments by students on the use of the Paradise Puzzle as an effective PBL exercise to develop research skills (85.5%, n = 110) and critical thinking (90.1%, n = 111) were positive in survey responses, as shown in Table 5. Students thought that the PBL Paradise Puzzle encouraged “outside the box styles of thinking.” They liked the design as an everyday scenario giving insights of the modern world, and the freedom and autonomy to think creatively for themselves in choosing a research angle. Students viewed the effective exercise as a great opportunity to focus on their areas of interest and to apply their problem-solving abilities to the puzzle, which in turn allowed exposure to many areas of science, as none of the research proposals were identical. The very aspect of having multiple approaches as options from different scientific fields, reflecting the diversity of the interdisciplinary coverage of the design of the Paradise Puzzle, was found to be of interest to students. The Paradise Puzzle was found by students to possess an appropriate level of interactive complexity, providing many options to chose from a diverse range of fascinating avenues and facets of research. An over-riding sentiment was simply that the Paradise Puzzle was “enjoyable to study, a lovely idea, and fun to do.”

Table 5.
Students’ responses to the concept of the Paradise Puzzle for learning scientific inquiry.
Aspect of learning scientific inquiryStudent responsesOverall Agree response (%)Mean score (1–6)SD
1. Encouraged to think critically 111 90.1 4.73 1.18 
2. Developed confidence to investigate new ideas 109 79.8 4.36 1.39 
3. Developed research skills 110 85.5 4.66 1.31 
4. Understood relationship between parts of the unit 111 87.4 4.74 1.16 
5. Material covered helped complete assigned tasks 111 85.6 4.47 1.30 
Aspect of learning scientific inquiryStudent responsesOverall Agree response (%)Mean score (1–6)SD
1. Encouraged to think critically 111 90.1 4.73 1.18 
2. Developed confidence to investigate new ideas 109 79.8 4.36 1.39 
3. Developed research skills 110 85.5 4.66 1.31 
4. Understood relationship between parts of the unit 111 87.4 4.74 1.16 
5. Material covered helped complete assigned tasks 111 85.6 4.47 1.30 

In the enhancement of the learning process of scientific inquiry, enthusiastic tutors who were mostly postgraduate students were employed. The tutorials were a mandatory component of the unit throughout the 12-week semester and were creatively designed by the tutors within a template format as a guide for learning activities for each week. Each tutor presented their creative flair on the weekly topics, often embellished with personal stories of their research. Other examples of resource materials used in tutorials were case studies, Paradise Puzzle timelines, interactive online exploration of the great barrier reef (Heron Island/“Capricorn Island”), short film animations explaining “Theory vs Facts vs Hypothesis,” readings on “What's your pitch?,” role-playing for funding bids, and critique of innovative ideas from TED talks. This novel component of teaching the unit was core to student engagement and broad thinking with encouragement of “having a go” at mastering research skills.

Methodology

Here analysis of the student responses and experiences justified the use of the creative scenario PBL approach. Throughout the research process, students learned to appreciate collaboration, working in small groups (5 people) and actively participating in tutorials composed of 5–6 randomized groups that resembled interdisciplinary teams. This enabled peer evaluation of different individual scientific inquiries and promoted interpersonal and team-building skills, fostering respect for other disciplines. Therefore the PBL approach reflected an appropriate method of teaching critical thinking in life sciences, also reported to be an effective teaching method in medical sciences (Kowalczyk, 2011).

Reflection on the research process is important for students to achieve learning outcomes. It is vital for students to understand that a continuous cycle of thinking, data collection, analysis, and rethinking is perpetuated in understanding the depth of scientific inquiry. The cumulative aspects of learning scientific inquiry using the PBL-based Paradise Puzzle assisted development of cognitive competencies, allowing students to feel more confident in conducting research in the future. Also the wide spectrum of ideas coming from different minds thinking about the same scientific problem teaches students how scientists can take varying approaches within the same research landscape. On the other hand, assessment of the diverse array of student responses is met as a challenge through the lens of specialist science teachers, who must have a broad attitude toward teaching and assessing scientific inquiry amongst different fields of research. Indeed the epistemology of teaching the nature of scientific inquiry development requires a good relationship between a teacher's understanding of scientific inquiry and their ability to creatively teach about scientific inquiry. Notwithstanding, the relationship between scientific inquiry concepts and discipline-specific content can affect the cognitive load of the student's ability to learn research skills in a unit with a PBL-based model. Diverse approaches to doing research engendered an understanding of freedom in research, allowing creative and strategic thinking.

At the heart of research is the ability to think conceptually to propose an idea or theory that can be tested. The design of an engaging PBL assignment, such as the Paradise Puzzle, helps to teach and develop creative inquiry skills in research, advancing entrepreneurship and innovation to benefit our society.

I thank Allan Berry for his insight in refining the Paradise Puzzle scenario, and the students and staff involved in this unit for their contagious enthusiasm and valuable feedback.

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