“Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.”
This well-known quote by B. Franklin is the essence of inquiry-based learning. Students learn more when they are actively involved in the learning process: however, traditional teaching discourages the process of inquiry, as students are required to just listen and repeat the expected answers.
In today’s world, however, memorizing facts and information is not the most important skill. Information is readily available anytime, anywhere, and facts change rapidly. What is needed instead is the ability to understand how to make sense of the mass of data around us. The inquiry-based learning approach allows students to convert data and information they gather themselves into useful knowledge.
Inquiry-based learning is a form of active learning that starts by posing problems, questions, or scenarios. This approach is student-centred and promotes learner autonomy, so the teacher acts more like a moderator or facilitator, providing the appropriate level of support. Inquiry-based learning is used to carry out investigations, projects, and researches, and is related to problem-solving skills. Thanks to this approach, learners become active participants, experience deeper engagement, and develop higher-level thinking.
Here are five tips for teachers who want to adopt this approach:
1. Let students explore. Have them develop questions they want to answer. Give students very clear instructions on the task you set for them, but let them explore by themselves.
2. Research the topic using time in class. Your role is to help and guide your students, and model methods of researching reliability.
3. Tell your students to focus on three elements: what they already know, what they want to know, and finally what they have learned.
4. Let students be the centre of the learning process. Stop being the expert, let them create their own knowledge. Guide them and help them, but let them experiment. If they take ownership of their learning, this will be more lasting and powerful.
5. Have them present their findings, and reflect on their work – what worked, and what didn’t.
Inquiry-based learning heavily relies on using technology and the Internet.
If you are concerned about student distractibility, see how edQuire can help keep your students on task: www.edquire.com