Inquiry-Based Learning

As a teacher, we can approach student learning from many different directions. It all depends on your students, your content area, and your ability to effectively use this approach to teaching. I did some research on the different approaches and learned a bit about each one. One I really enjoyed reading about, and had my own experience with, is inquiry-based learning. Inquiry-based learning is making use of questions, problems, and scenarios to help students learn by their own curiosity and investigation. This type of learning is important because it allows the student to explore a new topic out of his or her own curiosity. When a student becomes curious about a subject they are motivated to learn what they can about that subject. We as teachers guide them to asking questions about their subject and then research those questions. Students then become eager and work to learn and answer their own questions.

Inquiry-based learning in the classroom is all about getting the students curious and then activating that curiosity. The educators, in the articles I have included below, talk about how triggering this curiosity from the students is the most important and tricky part of inquiry-based learning. The article by Tina Barseghian provides 8 ways that one can move to an inquiry-based learning classroom. It is one thing to simply tell students about a subject, but when a student is influenced by their own curiosity they are more motivated and eager to learn about it and go more in depth than what we just tell them.

In an inquiry-based classroom, the teacher gives the students a scenario where a subject sparked their own interest and then the students inquire for themselves about this subject. The students are mainly coming up with their own questions and researching them. I would say it is almost like they are teaching themselves with the guidance of their teacher. It is not like the teachers just sit back and let the students do whatever they want. The teachers provide the subject and sort of releases authority to the students in deciding what they want to learn about the subject and how they learn about it.

This approach to learning has many advantages. When students inquire on their own they are able to relate the material to their own lives. Knowing this and being able to apply the material will be more effective because they were able to make the link based on their own investigation. Also, because they inquire for themselves, they get to decide how they will answer their questions and how they will learn them. This is great because as we all know, everyone learns differently and they don’t have to sit through an hour-long lecture or read pages and pages of material where they would not learn.

The disadvantages to this approach is, many educators find this approach to work best in the later years of education where students are able to form solid and relevant questions. Also many believe that this form puts more work on the students rather than the educators. Nevertheless, it has been proven that inquiry-based learning has benefitted many students and has improved school performances. Here is a link to a video explaining what inquiry-based learning is.

What is Inquiry Based Learning?

What the Heck is Inquiry-Based Learning? – Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Creating Classrooms We Need: 8 Ways Into Inquiry Learning – Tina Barseghian

These are also people on Twitter who are inquiry-based educators.

Sergio Pascucci

Julie May

Jocelyn Schmidt

 

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7 thoughts on “Inquiry-Based Learning

  1. Your post is very thorough and well explained. I also chose to research inquiry-based learning. I like the point you made about students teaching themselves with the guidance of the teacher. I think this is something that can be a positive thing for some students, but I also wonder if students may struggle to guide their own learning and stay on task? It was a thought I had while doing my own research. Great post!

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  2. I really like the idea of inquiry-based learning. I think it gives students a lot more freedom in their learning, as well as making them a more active role in their learning. I do agree with the fact that this is probably a better approach for older students as opposed to younger ones. Good post.

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  3. This is a really great article!
    I love the amount of information you have given to describe what inquiry-based learning is.
    I agree that young students still need the anchor of the teacher, however I have had success at the middle-school level and the high school level. What I find different is the subjects I have to use to get the students hooked. For example, my middle school students were enthralled by a little snow bug (that I was able to create a whole unit around), yet at the high-school level, they were like “meh”. I find it harder to find topics to engage the older kids while the younger kids are still eager to learn.
    Thanks again for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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