inquiry based learning

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Inquiry-based learning starts with a question. Students observe and think about the problem. This leads to further research. They experiment and explain the data they collect. They then make predictions and reflect on their work.

There are different levels of inquiry. To start with, teachers develop a set procedure that guides students to answers. This reinforces knowledge and introduces students to the method. Then they only provide an outline of the method. Students have to explain their own findings by analysing the data they collect.

At the next stage, teachers only provide the research question for the students. The students design procedures that test the problem. They are free to communicate their results and propose conclusions. Finally, students decide on their own research question. In this last 'open' inquiry stage, students base their study on their own interests. At this stage students develop critical and scientific thinking skills.

Open inquiry is different to more conventional learning where students confirm expected outcomes. Students have to think about their results they collect. In open learning there are no wrong results. Students have to test the strengths and weaknesses of the results they collect.

Wagenschein, a science educator, showed how important open inquiry based learning was. He did not teach bald facts. He thought students should understand and explain what they are learning. He asked physics students to tell him what the speed of a falling object was. All students would produce an equation. But the students couldn't explain what their equations meant. Wagenschien used this example to show the importance of understanding over knowledge.

We teach our students the different stages of inquiry. This starts with simple confirmation inquiry and develops to open inquiry. It is this part of the IB that prepares students for access to and success at the world's best universities.

Read the blog posts below to see how we bring the Learner Profile to life.