An old proverb states: “Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.” The last part of this statement is the essence of inquiry-based learning. Memorising facts and information is not the most important skill in today’s world. Facts change, and information is readily available – what’s needed is an understanding of how to find, make sense of, and use relevant information for specific purposes.
Inquiry learning is a process where students formulate investigative questions, carry out research using a series of structured investigations to obtain factual information, build knowledge that answers their original question, then evaluate and report on their findings.
During the process, students are encouraged to observe carefully, think critically and analyse their discoveries; explore possibilities, construct their own interpretations, and debate and defend their conclusions.
The inquiry approach to learning takes advantage of students’ natural curiosity for the world in which they live and allows them to investigate concepts that are significant, relevant, challenging, engaging and globally transferable. Because students have ownership over the process their learning becomes a rich and meaningful experience.
The Guided Inquiry Learning Process for Research and Investigation:
- Planning: identify the focus of inquiry and methods of research.
- Locating: gather information from a range of sources.
- Using: select, reject, evaluate and interpret retrieved information.
- Organising: record and organise relevant information.
- Sharing: present the material clearly in a range of formats and making the work available to a wider audience.
- Evaluating: assess the process and skills used.