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.
Deep Inquiry Learning
At PVNCCDSB, many of our schools are embarking on an inquiry-based learning journey through Deep Inquiry Learning. Through this process of authentic teaching and learning, educators are completely supported. Many differentiated professional learning sessions occur in the first two years of involvement with step-by-step support and a celebration of the authentic learning for all! Through a cycle of Deep Inquiry Learning, explicit connections are made to the Ontario Catholic Graduate expectations (OCGE). Students are able to live out the OCGEs by embarking on real life explorations and discoveries which highlight and deepen these essential skills for Catholic students. Connections are also made to building community partnerships, creating rich learning environments, using effective pedagogical practices and leveraging technology to deepen learning.
Deep Inquiry Learning: Catholic Graduate Expectations
Deep Inquiry Learning: Bat Rangers