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AP Biology: Transitioning to Inquiry-Based Labs

Workshop description

Inquiry-based labs allow students to engage in science practices that require them to think and act like scientists. The focus in AP Biology is shifting from content coverage — breadth — toward enduring understandings and scientific reasoning skills — depth.  This workshop will provide AP Biology teachers with a means to understand inquiry and its place in the classroom. Participants will analyze how traditional labs differ from inquiry-based labs and investigate a system that they can use to modify traditional, "cookbook" labs to make them inquiry-based. In addition, participants will have an opportunity to plan how they will transition their curricula to focus on inquiry. Participants will leave this workshop with the ability to confidently create inquiry-based labs that they can immediately use in their classrooms.

Workshop goal

Participants will learn strategies for modifying traditional labs and incorporating inquiry-based labs into their AP Biology curricula.

Learning outcomes

After attending this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Use current research and models of inquiry-based labs to understand differing lab structures
  • Recognize the cognitive processes that students engage in during various laboratory investigations and identify the tasks that enable different levels of inquiry (confirmation, structured, guided or open inquiry)
  • Practice modifying traditional labs to make them inquiry-based


  1. Welcome and Introductions
  2. Defining Inquiry
  3. Levels of Inquiry
  4. Modifying Traditional Labs
  5. Lab Investigations and the AP Biology Exam
  6. Classroom Connections
  7. Implementing Inquiry-Based Labs
  8. Workshop Summary and Closing