Commentary: Inquiry-based Learning and Teaching, pp. 4 of 7

Kwek and colleagues (2019) found several pedagogical practices in classrooms that effectively structured and supported IBL that can be taken into consideration in planning and enacting IBL. In sum, these included:

  • The effective use of questioning: Studies pointed to teachers effectively using a range of questioning approaches, using questions strategically to seek clarifications, discuss topics and structure different forms of argumentation, especially with a claims-evidence-reasoning framing (e.g., questioning focused on what claims were being made and what the reasoning and evidence were to support those claims);
  • Scaffolding student learning: In several studies, teachers were often seen to scaffold student learning through learning consolidations (e.g., through recapping or reviewing learning by highlighting key ideas, concepts or content), engaging students in evaluation of authentic information sources (using a range of scaffolding, heuristics and guidance), and using ICT-enabled forms of scaffolding (e.g., to organise ideas, structure arguments, share findings, etc.);
  • An emphasis on student-centred learning: Teachers were observed to effectively focus on students’ prior experiences and ideas, leverage these experiences and ideas to promote learning and encourage student experimentations and explorations – the focus was on designing rich tasks for student inquiry and engagement, rather than teacher talk;
  • Perspective-taking and synthesising information: As part of inquiry, teachers encouraged students to consolidate or synthesise their learning and view issues, problems, tasks and ideas from multiple perspectives (e.g., they often asked students to consider different perspectives than those provided by the textbook); 
  • Supporting students’ emotional needs: Teachers also supported students’ emotional needs, including support for students to work through ambiguity or ‘mistakes’ and to overcome fear of experimentation and exploration – they created safe learning environments for students to share their views, consider different perspectives and develop their own conclusions; and
  • Engaging students in the core social practices of disciplined inquiry: Teachers helped students understand the disciplinary nature of their subjects (e.g., how knowledge was constructed in the discipline), emphasised evidence-based reasoning (the evaluation of claims and evidence) and made explicit these practices (by providing guiding heuristics for reasoning or by modelling and making visible these practices).

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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