What is inquiry-based learning?

Victor Ochieng'

There is a famous Chinese saying t­­hat goes like: “Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I learn.” This looks like the dictum that inspired the architects of Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) to come up with Inquiry Based Learning (IBL).

It will be the nub of my 8th treatise about CBC. IBL delves deep on experiences that enable learners to conceptualise the world around them. This happens through the development, and use of investigative skill.

Right at the onset. It is important to point out. That IBL introduces learners to life-long learning, which is in tandem with one of the seven competencies in the CBC – learning to learn. Somewhat, this is something learners will go throughout life. Beyond parental help and security. Beyond textbooks. Beyond the ubiquity of eternal vigilance of teachers.

Then, through IBL, learners ask meaningful questions, make critical observations, connect good ideas, apply skills of processing information, use indicators to assess their work, recognise their abilities — strengths and weaknesses — and reflect on their learning with others. It also right to state. Through IBL, learners make wise use of technology to explore rich sources of information in close range and beyond.

In actual sense, IBL focuses on the process of exploring the world, which direct learners to the art of asking questions, making fascinating discoveries, conducting research and experiments. IBLs philosophy abuts on Constructivist Learning Theories such as Vygotskian Social Cultural Theory and Paget’s Theory of Cognitive Development. In the whole scheme of things, proponents of IBL acknowledge: Knowledge gets constructed based on cache of experiences learners go through.

In these times and climes, IBL is relevant because the key objective of modern education is to equip learners with requisite knowledge and attitudes, which can help them access success in this wide old world evolving at a rapid rate. Ideally, education can only be the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world, as once cited by Nelson Mandela, only when we can use it to solve our perplexing problems mere mortals go through.


Monitoring of CBC is key to its absolute implementation

Meaning, the buoyant spirit of inquiry (British ‘enquiry’) should reign in our classrooms. Then, in this swift shift, the big question rings: Can learners apply knowledge, think critically about it and make it the integral part of what they know?

Moreover, IBL approach to Teaching and Learning (TL) focuses more on use of content to develop useful information and solve problems rife in this life. The system is more learner-centred. The teacher is there to facilitate learning. The teacher is not a sage on stage, but just a guide by side. Conversely, the traditional approach to learning focuses more on mastery of content. Instead of delving deeper on upskilling and development of inquisitive attitudes.

Consequently, IBL focuses more on ‘how we come to know’ and relegates ‘what we know’. Actually, this works well when learners are involved in the construction of knowledge. Ostensibly, learning becomes lively when something intrigues learners. Also, their attention and concentration are arrested when learning reflects their inherent interests.

In a broader sense, IBL leans firmly on constructivist ideas of learning. Exponents of constructivism believe: Knowledge germinates from viable seeds of experiences. More so, the social experiences. Based on this belief, learning develops through individual effort and group work. Then, the assessment of progress and outcome depend on how learners develop experimental and analytical skills.

More so, how they collaborate in group work. Research postulates: Lecture method of teaching account for 5 per cent. Reading of notes is 10 per cent. Audio-visual is 20 per cent. Demonstration is 30 per cent. Discussion is 50 per cent. Practise through exams accounts for 75 per cent. Peer teaching and presentation carries the lion’s share – 90 per cent.

Ideally, the four levels of IBL include: Confirmatory, structured enquiry, guided enquiry and open enquiry. IBL revolves around a wide array of approaches to Teaching and Learning (TL), which include: Fieldwork, case studies, investigations, research projects, individual and group projects.

In addition, specific learning processes that learners engage in during IBL may include: Creating questions on their own and obtaining supporting evidence to answer the questions. There is the explanation of the evidence they have collected and connection of the explanation to the knowledge obtained from an investigative process.

Also, there is the use of the information from the quantitative data to cohere with the qualitative data in the robust support of emerging patterns. Then, there is the creation of an argument and its justification.

By Victor Ochieng’

The writer is an education consultant. He rolls out talks and training services.

vochieng.90@gmail.com. 0704420232

Get more stories from our website: Education News 

To write to us or offer feedback, you can reach us at: editor@educationnews.co.ke

You can also follow our social media pages on Twitter: Education News KE  and Facebook: Education News Newspaper for timely updates.

>>> Click here to stay up-to-date with trending regional stories



Sharing is Caring!
Don`t copy text!