- This study characterizes the impact of an inquiry-based learning (IBL) module versus a traditionally structured laboratory exercise. Laboratory sections were randomized into experimental and control groups. The experimental group was taught using IBL pedagogical techniques and included manipulation of large-scale data-sets, use of multiple representations and a physical model and exposure to ill-constrained problems common to the Texas Gulf Coast. The control groups were taught using traditional laboratory activities. The groups were not significantly different prior to exposure. Pre/post-expressed conceptual models and final written reports indicate that the experimental group had greater increases in their conceptual model development of sand-sediment transport. 2010 Taylor & Francis.