Inquiry-based science instruction—what is it and does it matter? Results from a research synthesis years 1984 to 2002.
This was published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching(JRST), and was the most accessed article in JRST in 2010. Here is the abstract of the research study:
Various findings across 138 analyzed studies indicate a clear, positive trend favouring inquiry-based instructional practices, particularly instruction that emphasizes student active thinking and drawing conclusions from data. Teaching strategies that actively engage students in the learning process through scientific investigations are more likely to increase conceptual understanding than are strategiesthat rely on more passive techniques, which are often necessary in the current standardized-assessment laden educational environment. Article - PDF