Instructional Design Models and Theories Inquiry-based Learning Model

What is Inquiry-based Learning

The Inquiry-based Learning Model emerged in the 1960s, during the “discovery learning” movement and relies upon the idea that individuals are able to learn by investigating scenarios and problems, and through social experiences. Rather than having to memorize information from printed materials, instructors encouraged their students to conduct investigations that would satisfy their curiosity, help them broaden their knowledge base and develop their skills and mental frames.

It’s important to remember that inquiry-based learning is not a technique or practice per se, but a process that has the potential to increase the intellectual engagement and deep understanding of learners, urging them to:

  • Develop their questioning, research and communication skills
  • Collaborate outside the classroom
  • Solve problems, create solutions, and tackle real-life questions and issues
  • Participate in the creation and amelioration of ideas and knowledge

The 5 steps of inquiry-based learning

This is why inquiry-based learning includes the following steps:

  1. Ask questions
  2. Probe into various situations
  3. Conduct analyses and provide descriptions
  4. Communicate findings, verbally or in writing
  5. Think about the information and knowledge obtained

The principles of inquiry-based learning

There are certain principles that govern inquiry-based learning and can be summarized as follows:

  • Principle 1
    Learners are in the center of the entire process, while instructors, resources and technology are adequately organized to support them.
  • Principle 2
    All learning activities revolve around information-processing skills.
  • Principle 3
    Instructors facilitate the learning process, but also seek to learn more about their students and the process of inquiry-based learning.
  • Principle 4
    Emphasis should be placed on evaluating the development of information-processing skills and conceptual understanding, and not on the actual content of the field.

The 4 forms of inquiry

There are four forms of inquiry that are commonly used in inquiry-based instruction:

  • Confirmation inquiry
    Learners are given a question, as well as a method, to which the end result is already known. The goal is to confirm the results. This enables learners to reinforce already established ideas, and to practice their investigative skills.
  • Structured inquiry
    Learners are given the question and the method of achieving the result, but the goal is to provide an explanation that is already supported by the evidence gathered during and through the investigative process.
  • Guided inquiry
    Learners are only given a question. The main goal is to design the method of investigation and then test the question itself. This type of inquiry is not typically as structured as the previously mentioned forms.
  • Open inquiry
    Learners must form their own questions, design investigative methods, and then carry out the inquiry itself. They must present their results at the end of the process.

In an instructional setting, inquiry-based learning can give instructors the opportunity to allow students to fully explore problems and scenarios, so that they can learn from not only the results, but also the process itself. They are encouraged to ask questions, explore their environments, and obtain evidence that support claims and results, and design a convincing argument regarding the way they reached to the end result.

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