Inquiry-based learning (also enquiry-based learning, inquiry learning or inquiry-guided learning) is a constructivist instructional strategy widely adopted in the 1970s1) and based on John Dewey's views on learning as active, learner-centered process which should be based on real-world examples instead of rote fact memorization. Inquiry represents questioning which fosters curiosity in students. Although different authors suggest different inquiry-based strategies, they are usually used to promote alone or collaborative,
The idea of inquiry-based learning is to foster characteristics of good learners and encourage them in the educational process. These characteristics include confidence in the ability to learn, enjoying problem-solving, trusting one's own judgement, not fearing being wrong, a flexible point of view, and respect for facts.3) These qualities can be fostered through an approach in which the teacher4):
The inquiry-based process of learning can be described as a cycle based on these activities mainly through following main steps:
These steps in general are quite similar to the steps of problem-based learning. Differences between these two approaches are minimal according to some5) and appear only in their origins (problem-based learning was developed in medical education and inquiry-based learning in science education), other suggest it is the role of the teacher:
Some authors suggest different inquiry-based learning modes depending on the level of scaffolding7):
Advantages of inquiry-based learning are increase in students motivation, active approach to learning, academic skills and intellectual habits8). Students are also encouraged to develop of critical thinking, reflect on their learning, use different learning resources and gain deeper understanding of the course concepts.9)
Various areas in which inquiry-based learning has been applied include ecology, endocrinology, political communication, engineering and sociology10).
An example of inquiry-based learning is learning about language using a Star-Trek episode as a motivator11). In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Darmok” viewers are introduced to the concept of Tamarian language spoken by an alien civilization. Weather this invented language could be an actual human language was debated by many professional linguists. A possible instructional plan for learning about language characteristics based on this episode is the following:
Centre for Teaching and Learning: What Is Inquiry-Based Learning? Queen's University. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
Postman, Neil, and Charles Weingartner. Teaching as a subversive activity. Dell, 1980.
Lane, J. Inquiry-based Learning. Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, Penn State. 15th September 2007.
Inquiry Page. University of Illinois. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
Spronken-Smith, Rachel, and Rebecca Walker. Can inquiry-based learning strengthen the links between teaching and disciplinary research? Studies in Higher Education 35, no. 6: 723-740. September 2010.
Johnston, James Scott. Inquiry and education: John Dewey and the quest for democracy. SUNY Press, 2006.
Benson, Chris, and Christian, Scott. Writing to make a difference: classroom projects for community change. Teachers College Press, 2002.
Brew, A. The nature of research: Inquiry in academic contexts. New York : Routledge/Farmer. 2001.
Allen, P. and Greeves, H. Inquiry-based learning: A case study in Asian Studies. HERDSA News, 21-23. April 2005.