Inquiry-Based Learning

AKA

Inquiry Learning
Inquiry Method

Focus

Co-dependent, goal-oriented action among learners

Principal Metaphors

  • 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

Originated

1960s

Synopsis

Proposed 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 in 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) – student choose topics without reference to prescribed outcomes

Commentary

Inquiry-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 Influences

John Dewey

Status as a Theory of Learning

Inquiry-Based Learning is not a theory of learning.

Status as a Theory of Teaching

Inquiry-Based Learning is a theory of teaching.

Status as a Scientific Theory

Inquiry-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.

Subdiscourses:

  • Controlled Inquiry
  • Free Inquiry (Open Inquiry)
  • Guided Inquiry
  • Structured Inquiry

Map Location



Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2020). “Inquiry-Based Learning” in Discourses on Learning in Education. https://learningdiscourses.com.


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