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ResearchQuest: Examining Learning and Engagement with an Inquiry-Based Learning Environment Using Three-Dimensional Models of Dinosaur Bones and Fossils



  • Eric Poitras (U. of Utah, Theme 1)
  • Jason Harley (U. of Alberta, Theme 2)

Research Assistants:

  • Michelle Hudson (U. of Utah)


We aims to investigate the educational affordances of ResearchQuest, an inquiry-based learning environment that fosters learning and engagement about complex topics in Paleontology. The web-based platform is suitable for both desktop and mobile devices and augments investigations into paleontological observations about dinosaur fossils and bones through virtual and interactive 3D models as well as short videos with museum scientists that fosters critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills. Undergraduate students enrolled in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Utah investigate topics such as the causes of natural phenomena (i.e., What happened at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry?), evolutionary developments (i.e., What physical features helped dinosaurs survive?), and organism classification (i.e., What dinosaur did these bones come from?). A particular focus of our investigation is the development of 21st century skills for the STEM workforce as well as the training of undergraduate pre-service teachers in the implementation of technologies in K-12 STEM classroom.