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Inquiry Based Learning

Are you interested in incorporating active learning activities in the classroom? Do you want to promote critical thinking and problem solving skills? You may want to consider Inquiry Based Learning!

What is Inquiry Based Learning?

In this experiential teaching method, the instructor facilitates learning though student problem solving. A lecture could be used to pose a problem or question. The instructor then guides the students through the process of discovering ways to solve the problem rather giving a traditional lecture where the instructor tells the students how to solve the problem.

Inquiry-based learning (IBL) is a method of instruction that places the student, the subject, and their interaction at the center of the learning experience. At the same time, it transforms the role of the teacher from that of dispensing knowledge to one of facilitating learning. It repositions him or her, physically, from the front and center of the classroom to someplace in the middle or back of it, as it subtly yet significantly increases his or her involvement in the thought-processes of the students.

– E. Lee May of Salisbury State University

Why use Inquiry Based Learning?

There are many benefits to Inquiry-Based Learning. Some of the benefits listed by the Centre for Excellence in Enquiry-Based Learning (EBL) include:

  • Fundamentally, students are more engaged with the subject. Learning is perceived as being more relevant to their own needs, thus they are enthusiastic and ready to learn.
  • Students can expand on what they have learned by following their own research interests.
  • EBL allows students to develop a more flexible approach to their studies, giving them the freedom and the responsibility to organize their own pattern of work within the time constraints of the task.
  • Working within and communicating to a group are vital for a student’s employability. Self-directed learning not only develops key skills for postgraduate study, but also leads to original thought that contributes to larger research projects, papers and publications.
  • For teaching staff, developing an EBL module helps to understand the learning process and the changing needs of students.

How can I use Inquiry Based Learning in my classroom?

Consider the following when planning an Inquiry Based Learning activity:

  1. Think of a question or problem you would like to pose to the class. This should be a challenging problem where the students do not know the solution right away.
  2. Decide if you want the student to work on this individually, as small groups, or as an entire class.
  3. Come up with a few ways that you might help to facilitate the problem solving process if the students get stuck. It may help to establish guidelines for problem solving.
  4. Discuss your plan with a colleague or schedule a consultation with the Kaneb Center to get feedback on your plan before implementing in the class room.

For more information on Inquiry Based Learning, check out these resources:

Centre for Excellence in Enquiry-Based Learning

Benefits of Experiential Learning

The Academy of Inquiry Based Learning

University of Florida – Inquiry Based Instruction

 

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