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Since the mid-20th century, science education has focused on active inquiry rather than direct transmission of knowledge. The National Research Council's National Science Education Standards direct that inquiry-based activities be incorporated at all levels of education. The application of inquiry-based activities at the college level should include faculty-student research programs. This paper presents a class-based faculty-student research project conducted by teams of students over the course of a semester. The advantage of inquiry-based learning for undergraduates is outlined in a review of the educational literature. While there has not been much in the way of quantitative assessments of inquiry-based learning, it is clear that students with a good foundation in the subject benefit from open-ended inquiry. This information was used to create an inquiry-based approach to teaching science-process skills, which was used successfully in an upper-level undergraduate paleontology course at Missouri Western State University, a four-year institution located in northwest Missouri. Students worked in groups to design an original experiment addressing some aspect of taphonomic processes. After online class discussions of the research proposals and final approval from the instructor, students independently ran the experiments, monitoring and collecting data outside of class. During the final week of classes, the groups presented their experiments in a 20-minute, conference-style PowerPoint presentation that placed their experiment within the context of the literature.
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