Inquiry based learning is a technique whereby a teacher involves
students in the learning process through focusing on questions,
through problem-solving activities, and the use of critical thinking.
Some students prefer this type of learning approach because when
they become involved they understand concepts better. While inquiry-based
learning obviously works well in science, consider how you can
this approach for all subjects. Here are some tips for the inquiry-based
Give yourself time to prepare. Inquiry-based learning
involves much more prep time than other lessons. It is important
to give yourself proper time when preparing such lessons. You
want to be sure that you are able to guide your students through
the process and have proper closure to the lesson with the students'
full understanding of what was taught.
Using collaborative learning. Inquiry-based learning generally
works best in a collaborative setting. Try dividing your class
into small groups. Give each group a question that they will work
on together, and then let them develop a project based on the
question that supports their answer.
Age-appropriate activities. This approach to learning
works well with any age group and with any subject. The key is
to make sure that you develop lesson plans that are age-appropriate.
Since much of the planning falls on your shoulders, you need to
keep your students abilities in mind at all times.
Developing good questions. Because inquiry-based learning
is based on answering questions, your job is to develop strong
questions that are applicable to your lessons. Make sure your
questions are open-ended, giving students the ability to think
out of the box. Ask other teachers how they would develop questions
and use their examples.
Incorporate discovery into lessons. Giving students a
chance to discover things on their own can make concepts click
to where they understand what is being taught. Add questions to
your lessons whereby students have to explore to find the answers.
An example might be having students build a model in order to
answer questions in a sequential order.
Incorporate observation into lessons. "Seeing is believing."
Some students gain an advantage in learning when they have the
opportunity to observe what is being taught. Of course, we generally
think of science experiments when referring to this concept, but
consider using this approach in all areas of learning. For instance,
create a mystery box whereas you give a team of students a sealed
box. After reading a story, let the student teams guess what might
be in the box based on the story. Let them open the box and see
if they made any correct guesses. Then explain why you put the
particular items in the box in the first place.
Use measurement in lessons. This approach is best used
with science lessons. When a student is given a chance to measure
progress it helps them learn important concepts. An example exercise
might include the bubble gum experiment. Here's how it works:
The flavor in gum is mostly due to the sugar content or other
sweetener it might contain. While chewing gum, you notice the
sugar dissolves and the gum loses its flavor. You are actually
swallowing the sugar. Once the flavor is completely gone, sit
the gum out in room temperature and use the difference in a new
piece of gum compared to the chewed piece to measure the percentage
of sugar that is in the gum. Now you can use this demonstration
to come up with new questions related to gum and the ingredients
they contain. Let students do more experiments to answer the new
Use model-building exercises in lessons. Give your students
something they can identify that can be changed into something
else. Label the identifier as "A" and the change it can make as
"B." Now have them make a model of "B" and then explain how the
transformation takes place. This technique can be used in art
context, through story reading and character changes, as well
as with physical changes in science experiments.
Incorporate design techniques into lessons. This approach
is best used with science lessons. This is a student's chance
to design something physical and use it to prove or disprove a
theory. For instance, when teaching about buoyancy, let students
make boats out of clay. Of course, when they put their boats onto
water, they will sink. Use this opportunity to explain about buoyancy
and why it works.
Incorporate hands-on activities in lessons. Any opportunity
to let students work with their hands is a good way to use inquiry-based
learning. Hands-on activities can be used in all subjects. One
such example might include giving students (either individually
or in groups) unfamiliar objects. Let them look and hold the objects
and speculate how they might be used. The goal is for students
to observe the objects giving special attention to details. Now
the students must give arguments to support their speculations.
This is a great way to introduce a new subject in the classroom.