FocusCo-dependent, goal-oriented action among learners
- Knowledge is … scope of established actions and interpretations
- Knowing is … doing
- Learner is … an investigating collective
- Learning is … developing understanding while through application and exploration
- Teaching is … facilitating, guiding
SynopsisProposed nearly a century ago, Inquiry-Based Learning was designed to interrupt assumptions of context-free knowledge, passive learning, and smooth paths to understanding. Inquiry-Based Learning focuses on pursuing authentic interests, posing researchable questions, and participating in knowledge production. Various types of Inquiry-Based Learning have been described, including:
- Structured Inquiry – teacher leads the entire class in a shared inquiry
- Controlled Inquiry – teacher selects topics and resources to be engaged by students
- Guided Inquiry – teacher chooses topic and students design their engagement
- Free Inquiry (Open Inquiry) – students choose topics without reference to prescribed outcomes
- Context-Based Learning (Salters’ Approach) (Salters’ Company, 1990s) – aimed at promoting deep engagement with the content, and at developing both practical and theoretical knowledge, Context-Based Learning focuses on examples (actual and fictitious) and emulates real working environments by incorporating social, cultural, and political elements
- Guided Reinvention (Realistic Mathematics Education, 1990s) – developed through and mainly focused on mathematics learning, an approach to whole-class teaching designed to shepherd learners through the discernments and logical connections necessary to “invent” the concept under study. It is highly reminiscent of Structured Inquiry (see above).
- Inductive Teaching (Inquiry Training Model; Inductive Problem Solving) – a mode of teaching focused on gathering relevant information, assessing factuality, identifying relationships among facts, and deriving principles and generalizations based on those relationships
CommentaryInquiry-Based Learning was originally intended as a pedagogical format, but it has become more of an umbrella notion that stretches over a wide array of methods that align with its emphases on learner involvement in authentic, situated study. On the up-side, the array of contemporary interpretations suggests broad embrace and varied uptake. On the down-side, included in the diversity are approaches – such as Discovery Learning – that lack nuanced appreciations of the Coherence Discourses that originally informed Inquiry-Based Learning. In many contexts, these trivialized interpretations have poisoned the waters for educators seeking to implement Inquiry-Based Learning.
Authors and/or Prominent InfluencesJohn Dewey
Status as a Theory of LearningInquiry-Based Learning is not a theory of learning.
Status as a Theory of TeachingInquiry-Based Learning is a theory of teaching.
Status as a Scientific TheoryInquiry-Based Learning is founded on scientific theories of learning. Its own evidence base is not especially robust, however – almost certainly because of an unfortunate and inconsistent diversity of interpretations and similar variation in implementation.
- Context-Based Learning (Salters’ Approach)
- Controlled Inquiry
- Free Inquiry (Open Inquiry)
- Guided Inquiry
- Guided Reinvention
- Inductive Teaching (Inquiry Training Model; Inductive Problem Solving)
- Structured Inquiry
Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2021). “Inquiry-Based Learning” in Discourses on Learning in Education. https://learningdiscourses.com.
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