Inquiry Based Learning Benefits and Strategies You Need to Know

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What is Inquiry Based Learning?

Inquiry learning is when you look into a subject, thought, problem, or matter with the goal of helping students make their own learning and sense of things. Students can learn through inquiry instead of being told facts directly. They can learn through curiosity, finding, and working together.

You probably heard of Inquiry Based Learning in professional development or staff meeting and it might sound daunting. But it can be exciting to implement inquiry learning for teacher and students.

According to What is Inquiry Based Learning? A Guide for Educators an inquiry approach, students must:

  • ask thought-provoking questions
  • investigate widely and deeply
  • make sense of information to build new knowledge
  • develop a solution or formulate opinions
  • present or share their new understanding with others
  • have a valuable learning experience that leads to taking some form of action
  • reflect on what they learned and how they learned it.

Benefits of Inquiry Based Learning

There are 7 benefits of Inquiry-Based-Learning, according to What Is Inquiry-Based Learning: 7 Benefits & Strategies You Need to Know:

1. Reinforces Curriculum Content

Some people think of inquiry-based learning as not following the curriculum, but it can be used to review important material and help students better understand basic ideas.

This is because of how wonder changes the brain. This part of the brain is responsible for making memories. When an idea interests us, it makes the hippocampus work harder.

If students are more interested than usual in a certain subject, use their questions to start a research activity that will happen in the next few days.

A study from the Association for Psychological Science says that if they do this, they should remember important things they learned during the practice.

2. “Warms Up” the Brain for Learning
The same study found that starting class with a short question-and-answer session can help students remember things throughout the day.

In particular, it says curiosity gets the brain ready to learn, which helps students understand and remember things better.

Surprising people with an inquiry exercise is a simple way to get them interested. Start a lesson by showing a video or reading a primary source document related to a current topic that students found interesting. Then, let the students choose whether to answer the question alone or with a group.

This will help get the class started in a way that makes people curious and think.

3. Promotes a Deeper Understanding of Content

When students ask questions about an idea, they should see it as more than just a rule, thought, or formula.

Many of them will get it:

  • How the thought came about
  • How or why the rule or method works
  • When they know how to use the rule, idea, or method correctly

This is because asking open-ended questions and coming up with their own answers gives students the power to take charge of their own learning. As long as nothing goes wrong, they should understand an idea through their own unique ways of thinking and doing things. Experiential learning, which puts the student at the center of the learning process, works in the same way.

They won’t have to follow a process they don’t understand, and might come to a result that doesn’t make sense.

4. Helps Make Learning Rewarding

An article from the Harvard Educational Review often cited says asking questions can help students see the benefits of learning on its own.

The author says many kids learn to get “the rewards of parental or teacher approval or the avoidance of failure.” Because of this, they might not understand the benefits of learning.

He thought that question-based learning would change the way people think. It teaches students how satisfying it is to find something new, and how rewarding it is to come up with a new idea or result. So, they learn to enjoy learning itself, not getting praise from their parents or teachers. This means a simple question activity can help students find more joy in learning.

5. Builds Initiative and Self-Direction

Many skills that students can improve through inquiry-based learning are related to taking the initiative and going in their own way. This is clear when you look at the steps of the research process. Students learn how to research, ask questions, talk about, work together, and come to their own opinions. Self-guided research and analysis brings these skills together, even though they can develop them separately in other ways. These are the skills that will help kids get better grades, but also when they go to college and beyond.

6. Works in Almost Any Classroom

Inquiry-based learning is also good for teachers, because tasks can be used in many classrooms. Even if the person is in a different school or has different skills. This is because you may:

  • Adapt the pace and content to suit the needs of students
  • Appeal to students who struggle to grasp content through traditional lessons
  • Deliver exercises that greatly differ, using distinct content and investigation methods
  • Use an inquiry exercise as either a “minds-on” activity, review, full lesson or standalone project
  • Reinforce and expand upon any relevant concept, as long as students have shown curiosity towards it

In these ways, you’ll have the flexibility to provide inquiry exercises to the majority of your classes year after year.

7. Offers Differentiated Instruction

You can use differentiated instruction to meet the needs of all your students’ different learning styles when you lead an inquiry-based learning project. Students can do the work alone or with a small or big group. Discussions and guided study are two common ways people inquire. You can also give people material in audio, video, text, and virtual or real toys like building blocks. You can meet the different learning needs and preferences of your students through inquiry tasks that give them various content and ways to think about it. Prodigy Math Game is a flexible learning tool that lets students work on their math skills at their own speed. Today, make a free account as a teacher to help:

  • Deliver differentiated assessments and test preps
  • Inform your instruction and drive student achievement
  • Pinpoint students’ working grade levels and their levels on key strands

Strategies of Inquiry Based Learning

1. Keep Guiding Principles in Mind

To run an inquiry activity, there are broad principles you should follow:

  • Learners are at the centre of the inquiry process. You, along with the resources and technology you provide are there to support them.
  • Inquiry activities themselves should concentrate on building information-processing and critical thinking abilities.
  • You should monitor how students develop these skills as they build conceptual understanding of the topic in question.
  • As well as facilitating the exercise, try to learn more about your students’ learning habits and inquiry-based learning in general.

Keeping these principles in mind should keep you and your students focused on the overarching purposes of inquiry-based learning.

2. Demonstrate How to Participate

Because students may not be familiar with inquiry-based learning, consider demonstrating how to participate in an inquiry activity. Specifically, they must learn how to:

  • Contribute ideas
  • Develop those ideas
  • Question themselves and group members in a constructive manner
  • Investigate, to the fullest extent possible, their ideas and hypotheses

Launching mock-exercise for the class to tackle as a group, actively participate to give students a first-hand look at how to complete these steps. For example, after presenting an open question, facilitate and contribute to a brainstorming session. This will exemplify pitching and developing ideas. Demonstrating how to participate in this way should prepare students for future exercises.

3. Surprise Students

To spark curiosity and enjoy its benefits, run a surprise inquiry activity. With little to no context, start class by:

The content piece must relate to a topic that interests students, effectively engaging them. After they’ve examined the content, split them into small groups and give them an open question to answer. For example, you may ask them to determine applications for the mathematical formula or word problems. As research about curiosity indicates, their findings and conclusions should stick with them beyond the activity.

4. Use Inquiry when Traditional Methods Won’t Work

Structured or guided inquiry activities can lend themselves to topics that students typically struggle to grasp, allowing them to process content in different ways. Investigating a question you present, they should use their own techniques to analyze information that may normally be too challenging otherwise. As a result, they’ll likely form conclusions that make sense to them. You can then discuss these conclusions and fill knowledge gaps to ensure everyone is on the same page. Furthermore, monitoring students throughout the activity can teach you about their learning styles, informing you how to approach other difficult lessons. If you are writing report card comments, you may use the opportunity to observe student behavior.

5. Understand When Inquiry Won’t Work

Inquiry-based learning delivers its share of benefits, but you must recognize which lessons don’t call for inquiry. Take this scenario as an example: You want to run a guided inquiry activity for math class, which (a) introduces negative integers and (b) requires students to determine the concept’s application in real-life scenarios. Asking students to read an introductory text about negative integers will likely drain time and cause confusion. On the other hand, a brief overview will allow them to spend more time on the latter part of the activity, which focuses on analysis and discovery. As this example shows, there are cases when a simple explanation suffices over an elongated activity.

6. Don’t Wait for the Perfect Question

A student can ask a question that stimulates classmates’ curiosity, signaling you to prepare or launch an inquiry activity. But this is rarely the case. And you shouldn’t wait for it. Rather, you can initiate an inquiry activity when you feel it is appropriate. But it must use a guiding question that:

  • Reflects a core curriculum concept
  • Has engaged students from past or other classes
  • Interests students, as indicated in previous lessons and discussions

The question’s source, whether from you or your students, is secondary.

7. Run a Check-In Afterwards

Allotting time for class-wide reflection lets students discuss challenges and discoveries, fill knowledge gaps and supplement findings. This prepares them for future lessons and inquiry activities. They’ll learn about various ideas to consider throughout their study of the specific topic, and strategies to try during the next exercise. It can be especially helpful for learners who struggle in small groups, giving them a different way to process the activity’s outcomes.

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