gms | German Medical Science

Learning through Inquiry in Higher Education: Current Research and Future Challenges (INHERE 2018)

08.03. - 09.03.2018, München

“I can’t tell where the journey will end, but I know where to start”: Learning through inquiry-based internships in Bachelor of Psychology

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Learning through Inquiry in Higher Education: Current Research and Future Challenges (INHERE 2018). München, 08.-09.03.2018. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2018. Doc15

doi: 10.3205/18inhere15, urn:nbn:de:0183-18inhere155

Published: March 1, 2018

© 2018 Kedzior.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. See license information at



Learning through inquiry is a new buzz-word in higher education. Universities attempt to utilise this method of teaching to deliver high-quality education. However, learning through inquiry is difficult to implement with too few instructors and too many students in large undergraduate programs. Internships, required to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, provide a window of opportunity to introduce undergraduate students to research. The aim of this study is to describe the experiences of an undergraduate student (“Chris”) who completed an inquiry-based, three month long, internship in psychology. The data were collected using a written evaluation form.

Chris started the internship after first year of studies under my supervision. The internship tasks included data collection and analysis, co-writing of a scientific paper, preparation of a conference poster, and learning to conduct peer-reviews. Overall Chris “learned how to structure a scientific study, to handle long and complicated texts and (…) the data” and realised “how much time it [research] involves”. The internship tasks gave Chris the feeling that “even this early on (…) I really can do something (…): apply the theoretical stuff I learned in my studies in “real [scientific] life””. Chris appreciated working mostly independently although would rather focus on the topic of own choice. Chris noted that the internship could also help with future studies in that “own research projects (…) will be structured better and the reports won’t be as hard as (…) before the internship”.

Inquiry-based internships provide students with the necessary tools to initiate a research project and critically interpret scientific evidence. Independent work simulates the real scientific practice, improves students’ confidence in own skills, and can help to identify own topics of interest. Longitudinal studies are required to empirically investigate the impact of inquiry-based internships on further academic performance and a choice of graduate studies or career.