3 Key Traits of Inquiry-Based Learning

What is Inquiry-Based Learning?

Inquiry-based learning (IBL) is a teaching approach that focuses on student-generated questions, ideas, and observations and uses these as an anchor for learning.

Teachers and educators foster within the classroom a sense of wonder and curiosity. They work to establish a culture where student ideas are listened to, discussed, tested, and reshaped.

Throughout this process, students are encouraged to move from a place of wonder and curiosity to a position of understanding. They eventually take on the full responsibility for the progression and development of their own learning.

Key Traits of Inquiry-Based Learning:

1) Student-centred

students learning

In inquiry-based learning, the role of the teacher shifts from the deliverer of content and knowledge to the role of a facilitator who oversees the students’ learning journey.

As the process progresses, students will begin to work more independently, with the teacher providing support only when needed.

The IBL model encourages independence, ownership, responsibility, and the development of essential skills.

These skills include effective questioning skills, researching and metacognition. It also includes skills like cooperation, teamwork, and problem-solving.

2) Real-world component

Inquiry-based learning focuses on engaging students with problems faced in the real world. IBL should take into consideration multiple disciplines or subject areas.

In fact, challenges in the real world are rarely solved through one lens or using information from one single area of expertise. With IBL, students are challenged to address a real-world issue that interests them. As students progress through their learning journey, they will likely come across knowledge and build upon skills from many subject areas.

3) Ingrained culture

The culture of a classroom is vital to inquiry-based learning.

In order to make IBL successful and meaningful for students, fostering a love of questioning, observation, and discovery is important. Inquiry should focus on student curiosity. Furthermore, the teacher should model the behaviours of an inquirer and actively seek out new ways of acquiring knowledge. These real-life problems should fit within the context of the curriculum and/or community.

Students who feel that their interests are acknowledged and routinely discussed will be more engaged in their learning as they progress through the IBL process.

Final Thoughts

Inquiry-based learning can look slightly different in different classrooms, but the main principles are the same.

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