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Discovery learning is an approach that encourages students to become active participants in the learning process by exploring concepts and answering questions through experience. It is one of several inquiry-based learning techniques that seems particularly suited to the instruction of science since performing experiments is one of the key methods in discovery learning. However, the efficacy of discovery learning projects have not been explored much in Malaysia. In this study, an experiment integrated with real-world biotechnology industry example focusing on the function of the enzyme pectinase in the clarification of fruit (apple) juice was adapted and introduced to a group of urban, international secondary school science students who had undergone prior direct instructional guidance on the biological role and function of enzymes. The students were asked to complete a set of pre-experiment and post-experiment questions in order to analyse the impact of the experiment on their understanding of this topic. Results suggest that this discovery learning project do strengthen the learners’ prior knowledge and understanding of the function of biological enzymes through application of concept based on real world practice. High level of positive feedback was received (86.2%), with the students commenting on the “fun aspect”, being excited about being able to perform the experiment and expanding their understanding by linking their findings with a real-world, industrial application. Given the reported steady decline of Malaysian students enrolled in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses at secondary and tertiary levels, our findings suggest that developing and including more real-world, discovery type projects in secondary schools may help to effectively raise student interests in science subjects such as biology through new learning approaches.
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