Commentary: Inquiry-based Learning and Teaching, pp. 3 of 7

Studies have also found that there are a range of pedagogical practices that support IBL. Costes-Onishi, et al (in press) argue that IBL essentially should focus on helping students learn how to create knowledge through authentic learning experiences and activities. This would include engaging students in real problems, whether in the sciences or humanities subjects, allowing students to raise and investigate questions that are meaningful to them and allow for rich investigation into the problems through the collection of relevant information or data to develop their own conclusions. Authenticity is key here – the problems should be authentic (actual problems core to the disciplines yet designed for students to investigate in age-appropriate ways) and the methods used to construct knowledge about the problem should provide opportunities to collect and work with authentic data or information sources and develop their findings in meaningful ways. This requires educators to recognize that problems are core to their subjects. As Parker (2010) reminds us, subject matter is often taught as if

the academic disciplines are settled and devoid of controversy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The disciplines are loaded with arguments, and expertise in a discipline is measured by one’s involvement in them . . . Argumentation is authentic disciplinary activity. Social scientists argue about everything they study—about why Rome fell, what globalization is doing, why slavery lasted longer in the U.S. than in England, why poverty persists, how the nation-state system developed initially, and why it is maintained today. (p. 254)

So, to effectively practice IBL in classrooms, it is imperative that inquiry-oriented educators identify and tailor problems that will prompt inquiry and help students develop understandings aligned with curriculum. This requires planning lessons that support students’ inquiry-engagements with these problems.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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