Engaging Learners Through Inquiry-Based Learning

Rosa KemirembeInquiry-based learning is a learning process by which students’ curiosity is piqued through making connections to the real world by asking rich questions, making observations, investigating and carrying out research. Inquiry based learning is a student-led learning method where the teacher is the facilitator rather than an instructor, and guides students in generating questions related to a topic they want to learn about. Providing students with thought provoking questions rather than answers is the key to a successful inquiry-based learning model. 

Students are naturally curious and therefore are able to learn easily through inquiry. Teaching through inquiry provides entry points to learning at different levels of interest and abilities. Students are motivated to learn as they generate their own questions related to a topic of interest. Inquiry based learning also increases students’ independence and helps them take the lead in their own learning. Students are able to develop their own questioning, research and communication skills, collaborate, problem-solve, address real-world issues, and use evidence to support their thinking. 

Inquiry Based learning requires educators to teach their students how to ask higher-order or open-ended questions (e.g., Why would….? How might…?  How will…?). These questions generate strong discussions and promote higher-order thinking skills rather than lower-order or close-ended questions (e.g., What is..? When was…? Where is…?) which  only allow for lower-level thinking questions that rarely promote rich discussion or higher-order thinking skills.

Students are given a choice to summarize and demonstrate their learning in various ways at the end of an Inquiry by creating a product that verifies and demonstrates their learning such as a Google slide, poster, brochure, news article, broadcast, or a real-world opportunity to take up a social justice issue. During and after an inquiry students reflect on their inquiry and determine how to further refine their inquiry skills using transferrable 21st century learning strategies such as collaboration, active listening, team work, leveraging technology.

Posting a picture related to a topic in the curriculum document in a chosen subject can be used to initiate questions from students in order to promote student inquiry.

What message is being communicated by the picture below?


Look out for more 21st Century teaching strategies in our next issue, and visit our website at www.teachingforsuccess.ca to access our resources, workshops, and consultancy services. 

Teaching For Success provides extensive training in professional development and consultancy services in the education sector, for primary and secondary schools, and tertiary colleges. Our aim is to equip educators through professional development, to cognitively engage students in their learning, to prepare them to compete in the 21st century global economy.

Free Resources: 

Inquiry-Based Learning Poster

Inspiring Inquiry

Resources for an Inquiry-based Classroom