Inquiry Based Learning

Inquiry-based learning is an approach to teaching and learning that places students' questions, ideas and observations at the centre of the learning experience. Educators play an active role throughout the process by establishing a culture where ideas are respectfully challenged, tested, redefined and viewed as improvable, moving children from a position of wondering to a position of enacted understanding and further questioning (Scardamalia, 2002). Underlying this approach is the idea that both educators and students share responsibility for learning. 

For students, the process often involves open-ended investigations into a question or a problem, requiring them to engage in evidence-based reasoning and creative problem-solving, as well as "problem finding." For educators, the process is about being responsive to the students' learning needs, and most importantly, knowing when and how to introduce students to ideas that will move them forward in their inquiry. Together, educators and students co-author the learning experience, accepting mutual responsibility for planning, assessment for learning and the advancement of individual as well as class-wide understanding of personally meaningful content and ideas (Fielding, 2012).

Although inquiry-based learning is a pedagogical mindset that can pervade school and classroom life (Natural Curiosity, p. 7, 2011), and can be seen across a variety of contexts, an inquiry stance does not stand in the way of other forms of effective teaching and learning. Inquiry-based learning concerns itself with the creative approach of combining the best approaches to instruction, including explicit instruction and small-group and guided learning, in an attempt to build on students' interests and ideas, ultimately moving students forward in their paths of intellectual curiosity and understanding.