Other definitions of inquiry-based learning

American Association of School Librarians. Standards for the 21st-century learner.

Inquiry provides a framework for learning: To become independent learners, students must gain not only the skills but also the disposition to use those skills, along with an understanding of their own responsibilities and self-assessment strategies. Combined, these four elements build a learner who can thrive in a complex information environment.

Bass, Randy, & Rosenzweig, Roy (1999, December 1). Rewiring the history and social studies classroom: Needs, frameworks, dangers, and proposals. Center for History and New Media. Originally published as White paper for Department of Education, Forum on Technology in K-12 Education: Envisioning a new future.

utilizing primary sources available on CD-ROMS and the World Wide Web, and including the exploration of multimedia environments with potentially fluid combinations of text, image, sound, moving images in presentational and inquiry activities, involving different senses and forms of expression and addressing different learning styles.

Brigham Young University’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Inquiry-based learning.

an inductive teaching methodology that centers around students focusing on questions and/or research (Spronken-Smith et al., 2008). Teachers engage students by allowing them to facilitate their own learning with support and may allow students to create their own learning situations (Spronken-Smith et al., 2008; Feletti, 1993). “Inquiry learning” was founded around the scientific method while “inquiry-based learning” was developed as a flexible alternative to problem-based learning (Feletti, 1993).

Feletti, G. (1993). Inquiry based and problem based learning: How similar are these approaches to nursing and medical education? Higher Education Research and Development, 12(2), 143-156.

Spronken-Smith, R., Bullard, J. O., Ray, W, Roberts, C., & Keiffer, A. (2008). Where might sand dunes be on Mars? Engaging students through inquiry-based learning in geography. Journal of Geography in Higher Education. 32(1), 71-86.

Centre for Inquiry-based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences (CILASS), The University of Sheffield

a term used to describe approaches to learning that are based on a process of self-directed inquiry or research. Students conduct small or large-scale inquiries that enable them to engage actively and creatively with the questions and problems of their discipline, often in collaboration with others. IBL approaches include case-study and problem-based learning (PBL) methods as well as research projects of different kinds. It is a key characteristic of IBL that inquiry tasks facilitate exploration and investigation of issues or scenarios that are open-ended enough for different responses and solutions to be possible (Khan and O´Rourke, 2005).

Khan, P., & O’Rourke, K. (2005). Understanding enquiry-based learning. in Barrett, T., MacLabhrainn, I., Fallon, H. (eds), Handbook of enquiry and problem based learning. Galway: CELT.

Centre for Leadership in Learning, McMaster University

Inquiry is a form of Self-Directed Learning and follows the four basic stages defining self-directed learning. Students take more responsibility for:

  • Determining what they need to learn
  • Identifying resources and how best to learn from them
  • Using resources and reporting their learning
  • Assessing their progress in learning

Chapman, Elana. e-Portfolio: Inquiry-based learning.

Inquiry-Based Teaching is the art of developing challenging situations in which students take the role of scientists and engineers, thus inquiry based learning. In these situations, students take the initiative to observe and question phenomena; pose explanations of what they observe; devise and conduct experiments in which data is collected to support or contradict their theories; analyze data; draw conclusions from experimental data; design and build models; or any combination of these.

These learning situations are open-ended in that they do not aim to achieve a single “right” answer for a particular question being addressed. However, students work under clear process for solving scientific problems, and are asked to focus on the process of their question, not necessarily the validity of their results. They learn to observe keenly and thoroughly and to pose questions that are answerable, in part or in whole, through some meaningful experiment or exploration. They engage in trial and error through the process of answering their question. They learn to analyze and reason carefully.

Colburn, Alan (2000, March).An inquiry primer. Science Scope (special issue). pp. 42-44.

the creation of a classroom where students are engaged in essentially open-ended, student-centered, hands-on activities.

EduTech Wiki.

Inquiry-based learning (IBL) is a project-oriented pedagogic strategy based on constructivist and socio-constructivist theories of learning (Eick & Reed, 2002).

Eick, C. J. & Reed, C. J. (2002). What makes an inquiry oriented science teacher? The influence of learning histories on student teacher role identity and practice. Science Teacher Education, 86, pp. 401-416.

questionwheelGuyette, Elise A. Social studies inquiry method.

integration of the lenses that professionals in [social studies] disciplines use to examine a topic.

Jakes, David S., Pennington, Mark E., & Knodle, Howard A. Using the internet to promote inquiry-based learning: An epaper about a structures approach for effective student web research.

a process where students formulate investigative questions, obtain factual information, and then build knowledge that ultimately reflects their answer to the original question.

Moore, David Richard (2006, December 22). The technology/inquiry typology: Defining instructional technology. Journal of Interactive Learning Research.

inquiry, seen from a Deweyan perspective, is an activity that isn’t entirely cerebral and requires technology for its operation. To the extent that education is synonymous with inquiry then it is a technological activity. The implication being that the quality of one’s instructional experience is directly related to the quality of one’s tools…the work of instruction is no longer solely thought of as what is done to the learner, but what the learner does in their own process of knowledge construction and inquiry.

Morris, J. A. Technology and inquiry-based learning.

provides the skills one needs to solve problems and make good decisions.

National Research Council (1996). National science education standards. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

…Scientific inquiry refers to the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose  explanations based on the evidence derived from their work. Inquiry also refers to the activities of students in which they develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as an understanding of how scientists study the natural world.

YouthLearn. An introduction to inquiry-based learning.

Inquiry-based learning is not a new technique—in fact, it goes back to education philosopher John Dewey—but it does stand in contrast to the more structured, curriculum-centered framework of today’s schools.

Asking questions is at the heart of inquiry-based learning. The goal is not to ask just any questions, of course, but ones that kids honestly care about. Your role is to guide the kids in finding the answers themselves and encourage them to ask new questions along the way.

Inquiry-based learning is a style particularly well-suited for out-of-school programs because they have a freer hand to complement, enhance, and expand on the work children are doing in their K-12 classes. School-based teachers may not want to go so far as to make inquiry-based learning the core of their classroom approach. It does, however, offer a powerful option for occasional projects and lab activities.

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