Epistemic inquiry involves exploring questions such as: How do I know this? How strong is the evidence? How valid are alternative explanations? Why do we need several perspectives? etc etc Furtak et al. (2009) explored the huge literature dealing with inquiry based learning. The codification of styles of inquiry into procedural, social, conceptual and epistemic. They were also able to measure the degree of teacher mediation in this model. They found that teacher led inquiry where the epistemic facet was stressed had the most positive effects on student learning.
“The purpose of this meta-analysis was to determine the impact of variations of inquiry-based teaching and learning on student achievement in experimental and quasi-experimental studies published in the ten years following release of the National Science Education Standards (1996). The study presented a new four-faceted model for inquiry and applied it to the sample of studies identified for inclusion in this meta-analysis. Results of the meta-analysis indicate the studies meeting the stringent inclusion criteria had a mean effect size larger than those previously reported. Furthermore, the subset of studies that emphasized epistemic facets of inquiry had higher effect sizes, and studies with a longer duration had a larger positive effect on student learning.”
References Furtak, E.M, Seidel, T, Iverson,H and Briggs, D (2009) RECENT EXPERIMENTAL STUDIES OF INQUIRY-BASED TEACHING: A META-ANALYSIS AND REVIEW, Paper Presented at the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, August 25-29, 2009, Amsterdam, Netherlands