What is Inquiry-Based Learning?

This year, the school community is investigating how to further our implementation of inquiry-based learning. While our Day School has championed inquiry-based learning for quite a while now, we’re looking to continue immersing ourselves in the best practices that lead to strong, interesting, authentic inquiries throughout the schools.

What is inquiry-based learning?

Inquiry-based learning situates the learner in educational experiences that enhance that learner’s process of learning.  Crucial skills for the process of learning include asking questions, developing paths to discover the answers, exploring resources, identifying useful materials, and presenting findings in appropriate manners. Each step of the process is packed with action and reflection in order for students to grow themselves as expert learners.

In inquiry environments, teachers design the educational experiences for their students and mentor them through the process, assuring that the students acquire the core skills of inquiry along with the particular content areas that are deemed necessary. Alongside learning more about particular topics and ideas, learners will essentially grow their awareness and understanding of a process they can adopt for any inquiry.

Why Inquiry?

  • The inquiry process taps a learner’s intrinsic motivation to learn by starting with a learner’s questions about a particular area or idea. Once we establish that motivation, we can mentor students as they find interest in critical areas of study.
  • Inquiry-based learning helps prepare learners for a VUCA futures. VUCA is a military and strategic leadership term for Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, and Ambiguous. With the Department of Labor’s anticipation that 65% of all elementary school students will hold jobs that have yet to be invented, our students should be as adaptable and resilient as possible.
  • Inquiry-based learning is sticky learning. When a learner starts with his or her interest and discovers the depth and complexity of that interest, that learner is far more likely to remember and recall what she’s been exposed to.

In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be posting even more information regarding inquiry, from the various inquiry cycles we employ at Annie Wright Schools to the scopes of inquiry we find most effective for teaching our students how to learn.

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3 thoughts on “What is Inquiry-Based Learning?

  1. […] Previously, we’ve posted on the increase in attention inquiry has received given how inquiry equips students with a process of learning that they can use to navigate ambiguous tasks. We’ve also positioned the library as a central space for inquiry, a space that’s equipped with various tools, informational resources, and places to make inquiry happen. […]

  2. […] Thinking in Education is one of the most exciting derivatives of inquiry-based learning (click here for our previous explanation or here for material more thorough). In this process, learners are […]

  3. […] Last school year, our faculty and staff selected from a number of books that they had identified as good, helpful professional reading, and we here at Annie Wright Schools entered the summer months tasked with tackling one of these texts. Thus launched our exploration of best practices in  inquiry-based learning. […]

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