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Page history last edited by ecebueng@... 11 years ago







Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL)


Student holding magnifying glass






















Description: Inquiry-based learning is a teaching methodology that centers on the student’s curiosity to form knowledge. IBL falls under constructivist theories, where students facilitate their own learning through investigation and discovery. Teachers then act as motivators and manage learning activities (“Inquiry Based Learning,” 2008).     







Cover of Bruner's The Process of Education

History:  IBL stems from the work of Jerome Bruner, an American psychologist who penned the influential text The Process of Education in 1960 (Smith, 2002). The book was Bruner’s summary and interpretation of the Woods Hole Conference of 1959, which gathered experts from the fields of math and science. The conference was held in reaction to Russia’s launch of Sputnik and was meant to address deficiencies in America’s science education. After its publication, educational curriculum began to stress critical thinking and collaboration over passive student learning (Evans, 2004).  Bruner’s theories have be tied to the works of Lev Vygotsky, Jean Pieget, and John Dewey.





The Inquiry Process: The following diagram outlines the major steps of the inquiry process as explained on the Inquiry Page website:






Diagram of the inquiry process

  • Question- A question or a problem comes into focus at this stage, and the learner begins to define or describe what it is. Meaningful questions are inspired by genuine curiosity about real-world experiences.
  • Research- At this stage the learner begins to gather information: researching resources, studying, crafting an experiment, observing, or interviewing.
  • Discuss- Learners share their new ideas with others comparing notes, discussing conclusions, and sharing experiences. The learner begins to ask others about their own experiences and investigations.
  • Create- The learner begins to make connections and undertakes the creative task of shaping significant new thoughts, ideas, and theories outside of his/her prior experience.
  • Reflect- The learner steps back, takes inventory, makes observations, and possibly makes new decisions. Has a solution been found? Do new questions come into light? What might those questions be?



Issues to Consider: The Bringham Young University Center for Teaching and Learning website explains important issues one must consider before using IBL:


  • Motivation- Teachers must find or guide students toward an activity that motivates them or learning will not occur. Motivation often comes through their interest in the item of inquiry, problem, or research at hand.
  • Accessibility of investigation techniques- Teachers must make sure that the students have the ability to perform complicated measures of data collection and analysis because of the focus on authentic research and learning. If students cannot perform on this high level or learn these abilities, “meaningful results” will suffer.
  • Background knowledge- Teachers must take care to make sure that students previously understand and continue to learn about the context of the problem. Without sufficient understanding they will not be able to complete a successful experience.
  • Management of extended activities- Teachers must recognize that projects based on inquiry or scientific investigation extend over long periods of time and require focus and management both individually and as a group.
  • The practical constraints of the learning environment- Teachers must acknowledge that schools have timeframes and physical constraints that will affect the breadth of the activity. If these constraints are pushed, the project may not succeed.





Classroom examples and essays on inquiry based learning





Inquiry, Thoughts, Views, and Strategies for the K-5 Classroom





A brief biography on Jerome Bruner










Evans, R. (2004). The Social Studies Wars. New York: Teachers College Press.



Inquiry-based learning. Bringham Young University Center for Teaching and   Learning. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from http://ctl.byu.edu/home/information/teaching-learning-strategies/inquiry-learning/



Smith, M.K. (2002) Jerome S. Bruner and the process of education, The Encyclopedia of Informal Education. Retrieved May 12, 2009,from http://www.infed.org/thinkers/bruner.htm.


































Comments (3)

ecebueng@... said

at 1:23 am on May 12, 2009

I don't know why, but my formatting looks completely different after I save it. The font size becomes a lot smaller and I don't know how to fix it. Please help!

gcayala said

at 3:13 pm on May 22, 2009

Did you edit inside the Wiki or paste it from another document?
I like your images - very appropriate.
Gina - 1st editor

gcayala said

at 3:17 pm on May 22, 2009

The link on your last source isn't working. You may want to fix that.

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