Inquiry-based learning (IBL) is a widely used and highly recommended teaching strategy within the science curricula and across education (Aldahmash et al., 2016; Dunne et al., 2013; Wang et al., 2014). Mäeots et al. (2011) define IBL as a method of identifying and examining relationships, with students creating and developing hypotheses and experimentations by designing and applying experiment methodologies and analytical observations (p. 83).
This learning approach allows students to conduct research, experiment and explore the subject as much as possible. It lets them incorporate theories and hypotheses and apply content to understand and assimilate solutions to an identified problem or concept (Savery, 2006). In contrast, traditional learning (TL) is a strategy developed and centred around the instructor. Information is typically taught by the instructor or from resources, including textbooks and lectures (Khalaf, 2018). Through the use of this strategy, the monitoring of student achievement progress is an essential aspect of education and curriculum. Traditional learning focuses on the students' ability to answer content knowledge questions through standardized testing and a multitude of assessment options and mainly lacks the capability for students to make stronger, deeper, and personal connections to scientific material (Khalaf, 2018).
What are the types of inquiry-based learning?
In this learning approach, students are posed with a question, its answer, and the method for finding the answer. They use their critical thinking and investigation skills in learning how the method works.
An open inquiry method allows students to pose original questions and investigate through their methods, presenting their results to expand their knowledge base through discussion.
The structured Inquiry approach gives students an open question and investigation method. Then, they use this method to create an evidence-backed conclusion.
The guided inquiry-based learning lets students gather in groups to design investigation methods and reinforce problem-solving skills to conclude an open question.
What are the benefits of Inquiry-based learning?
Makes Brain Ready for Learning
Running a short inquiry activity at the beginning of the class help students retain information throughout the day. Generating curiosity through an activity makes them inquire about something at the start of the class and prepares their brain for learning through intellectual stimulation. You may begin by playing a video or sharing a primary source document. Later, give students an open-ended question which they can answer individually or as a group. This will help start the class in a manner that elicits curiosity and stimulates intelligence.
Inquiry-based learning enables students to make connections about their learning. Their curiosity helps students engage in learner and gain a deeper understanding of topics and content, instead primarily memorizing and recalling rules, ideas or formulas.
This process helps most students understand why the rule or formula works, how the idea was developed, and when they can apply the rule, formula or idea.
This inquiry-based learning allows students to explore topics of interest to them and to reinforce autonomy in learning. They engage and learn in a style that caters for their needs. Additionally, using open questions, solving them through original strategies empowers students to take ownership of their learning. Students should be able to build an understanding of a concept through their methods and thinking styles. It places students at the center of their learning experience, the same as experiential learning. They are not restricted to follow a process they cannot grasp, possibly arriving at a seemingly unjustified conclusion.
This active learning method encourages students to immerse themselves in the learning process. They make connections, ask questions, and learn more effectively as they reach their conclusions through exploring different topics.
Inquiry-based learning infuses fun and engagement by letting students explore topics independently, creating their learning process.
In addition, students develop transferable skills that strengthen initiative and autonomy. They also learn to ask questions, discuss issues, collaborate on tasks, cooperate and reach conclusions. This development is summed up by self-guided research and analysis based on the activities they perform. Also, when students can exercise their autonomy over their learning process, they become more engaged, helping to develop a passion for exploration and learning at a higher level.
Cultivates Necessary Skills
Bringing an inquiry-based learning approach helps students build their comprehension, critical thinking and communication skills. The continuous use of their cognitive skills helps not only in class but in day-to-day life.
Helps Make Learning Rewarding
The Harvard Educational Review's article states Inquiry-based learning can help students see the intrinsic rewards of learning. As per the author, many kids learn in an attempt to earn "the rewards of parental or teacher approval or the avoidance of failure." As a result, they may not appreciate the inherent benefits of learning. He also hypothesized that inquiry-based learning instils a different mindset showing students how fulfilling the act of discovery is and that theorizing a new strategy or original conclusion is a reward. Thus, make students enjoy the learning process itself and develop an appreciation for learning.
Builds Initiative and Self-Direction
Through, inquiry-based learning students can improve certain transferable skills, many of which relate to initiative and self-direction. They can learn how to ask questions, investigate, discuss, collaborate, cooperate and reach their conclusions. These skills will not only prove helpful as students reach higher grades but help them throughout their life.
Workable in All Classrooms
Inquiry-based learning is not beneficial for students but for teachers as well. You can repurpose activities for your classroom, even regardless of grade and individual skill levels. This approach can help adapt the pace and content to suit the needs of students, appeal struggling to grasp information through traditional lessons, deliver exercises that significantly differ using different content and investigation methods or inquiry exercise as either a "minds-on" activity, review, entire lesson or standalone project. It can also help strengthen and expand upon any relevant concept, as long as students have shown curiosity towards it.
Offers Differentiated Instruction
Running an inquiry-based learning activity allows you to use differentiated instruction strategies, appealing to the diverse learning styles of your students. These learners can work by themselves or as part of a small or large group. The inquiry itself typically involves methods such as discussion and guided research. You can also provide content in the form of text, audio, video and virtual or physical manipulative such as building blocks. Delivering a range of content and ways to process it, inquiry activities can allow you to meet your student's distinct learning needs and preferences.
Nurtures passions and talents
Using inquiry based-learning cultivates passions and talents. When learners are passionately engaged in learning, they become empowered and will feel more in control of the information they take in. Also, being actively involved lets them grow more focused on the subject and develop a stronger connection with what they enjoy.
Help Develop Research Skills
The inquiry-based learning, students develop research skills. These skills are necessary for a child's life. Research skills will enable them to enjoy the research aspect of learning both in school and independently.
Not only this, inquiry-based learning fortifies the importance of asking questions. Good questions help open their minds, develop children into creative thinkers and provide a deeper understanding of their interests and the confidence to continue researching them.
Generates Higher Interest
Students are often excited to see where will their topic go and what they will do with it. And the excitement continues as they see it take form and see success in their thought processes and activities.
Also, when students are allowed to ask questions and guide the direction of the curriculum, they will express more significant interest in the subject matter. This gets them more excited about being there and makes it more likely, generate higher interest and make them pay attention.