Teaching and learning strategies are critical in facilitating effective and efficient learning and achieving learning objectives. Numerous instructional models are used to impart information to students in order for them to master knowledge, skills, and attitudes. The methodology used to drive students to be able to apply their knowledge to solve problems will be distinct from the model used to encourage students to voice their own ideas in all situations. Although the models serve distinct purposes, their primary objective is the same: to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of learning .
Inquiry-based learning has long been recognized as a method of increasing students’ science achievement. Contextual inquiry is a multifaceted process that involves observing, formulating pertinent questions, critically evaluating books and other sources of information, designing an investigation, reviewing what is known, conducting experiments with the aid of instruments to collect data, analyzing and interpreting the data, and also making predictions and communicating the results . The inquiry-based approach is founded on constructivist learning, in which students develop an understanding via the use of their own perspectives or pre-existing information. As a result, because learning is a process that involves the interaction of new and pre-existing knowledge, pupils construct their own concepts through intellectual growth activities [3,4].
According to a preparatory study conducted at Universitas Negeri Medan’s Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences’ Biology Department, students’ learning outcomes in microbiology courses were poor. This was demonstrated by the mean final test score attained by students in the academic year 2014/2015, who were not yet able to achieve the ‘B’ level (80-89). Additionally, some students demonstrate a lack of responsiveness during the microbiology course’s learning process. Lecturers claimed that the procedures of trying, learning, and testing were rarely used in this course, and that focusing on students’ higher order thinking skills was uncommon.
Faculty must address these issues in order to increase students’ learning achievement. One strategy is to select the most effective method for engaging students actively in learning, such as through the use of the contextual inquiry paradigm. Using the contextual-inquiry paradigm, it is recognized that students’ achievement and higher order thinking skills, or HOTS, can be improved. Newman makes a distinction between lower and higher order thought. He finds that lower order thinking requires just the routine or mechanical application of previously acquired knowledge, such as listing already memorized facts and substituting numbers into previously taught formulas. By contrast, Newman defines higher order thinking as “challenges that require the learner to evaluate, analyze, or modify data” . However, according to Pohl, higher order thinking talents include analyzing (C4), evaluating (C5), and inventing (C6) at the cognitive level .
Applied research to train HOTS in the classroom is generally concerned with the teaching technique and the tools used to measure (evaluate) it. Cooperative learning and inquiry-based learning strategies have been shown to be effective at developing students’ higher order thinking skills. Some, on the other hand, necessitate caution in compiling appropriate lesson plans. The primary problem is developing a lesson design that can train students to use higher-order thinking frameworks while they are studying in order to solve scientific cases they encounter through a series of planned and methodical training processes. Incorporating debate or practical methods into learning and integrating them with specific models is not always possible to train immutable HOTS if the lesson design is solely dependent on the model’s syntax and does not incorporate a sound learning architecture. The inquiry learning methodology is widely acknowledged and has been demonstrated in numerous studies to be extremely successful in training students to think at a higher level. A learning model that can be utilized to train HOTS is one that encourages students to ask quality questions and also expresses excellent responses. Christine Chin of Singapore’s National Institute of Education conducted a series of studies on how to increase students’ ability to formulate quality questions. His research demonstrates that pupils’ ability to ask questions is a measure of their degree of thinking [7-11].