Inquiry Based Learning

There seems to be some difference of opinion about how effective this particular way of learning really is. Longitudinal impact of an inquiry-based science program on middle  school students’ attitudes toward science. HL Gibson, C Chase – Science Education, 2002 – Wiley Online Library.

Cycle of inquiry

The study seemed to show that over a 2 week period those with an     interest in science went on to retain that interest into later years  study into High school.

Students prefer a hands on approach to their learning and the idea of the teacher becoming a facilitator is sometimes hard to accept from some teachers.

The debate in the UK in 2013 is about the quest for facts against the search for knowledge. Memorising facts is not applicable in society today as they are quickly changed. Our understanding of concepts long held sacred by our ancestors is phenomenal,the world has changed and is being changed as our thirst for knowledge and research into the way things are happens at a frenetic speed. New species are found old species are lost,new ideas are proved and old theories are disproved very quickly.It is the ability to seek out present factual knowledge which is important not the ability to remember the fact that is important and this requires a different approach to learning.

Inquiry-based learning is a cyclical process: The learner asks questions these questions lead to the desire for answers to the question (or for solutions to a problem) and result in the beginning of exploration and hypotheses creation —   

These Hypotheses lead to an investigation to test the hypothesis/ses or find answers and solutions to the question and/or problem  the investigation leads to the creation or construction of new knowledge based on investigation findings, the learner discusses and reflects on this newly-acquired knowledge, which, in turn leads to more questions and further investigation. (

Criteria for a successful inquiry
(taken from Jeffrey Wilhelm, author of “You Gotta Be The Book” and “Hyper-learning”)

  • 1. Start with a guided exploration of a topic as a whole class.

  • 2. Proceed to student small group inquiry about an open-ended
  •                    debatable, contended issue.

  • 3. Encourage students to ask personally relevant and socially significant
  •               questions.

  • 4. Work in groups to achieve diversity of views.

  • 5. Predict, set goals, define outcomes.

  • 6. Find or create information…look for patterns.

  • 7. Instruction serves as a guide to help students meet their goals.

  • 8. Create a tangible artifact that addresses the issue, answers questions,    
  •                    and makes learning visible and  accountable.

  • 9. Learning is actualized and accountable in the design accomplishment.

  • 10. Arrive at a conclusion…take a stand…take action.

  • 11. Document, justify, and share conclusion with larger audience.


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