Inquiry-Based Learning: Definition, Examples & Model

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  • 0:03 What is Inquiry-Based…
  • 0:35 Guided Discovery
  • 1:47 The 5-E Model
  • 4:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Inquiry-based learning is a strategy for helping students take ownership of their learning goals in an engaging way. In this lesson, we will examine inquiry-based learning by defining what it means, and looking at examples from two different instructional models.

What Is Inquiry-Based Learning?

Thomas Berger, the novelist best known for writing Little Big Man, once said, ''The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.'' Questions are the basis for inquiry-based learning. Inquiry-based learning is an approach to instruction that begins with a question. Students construct their own knowledge as they engage in a variety of experiences that provide them an opportunity to investigate solutions. Let's find out more about inquiry-based learning.

Guided Discovery

When using the guided discovery method of inquiry-based learning, the teacher begins with a quick mini-lesson, lasting no longer than 15 minutes. Following the lesson, the teacher will provide students with questions and hands-on materials that the students can use to answer the questions. As students discover solutions, the teacher circulates the room to provide support or additional challenges to students as needed. The teacher's role is as a facilitator rather than a director of the learning experience.

For example, Miss Ward wants to teach students how to compare the mass of various objects using a balance scale. During the mini-lesson, she will define mass, teach students how to properly use a scale, and clarify what question she would like students to answer. For example, how many counters are equal to five grams? Then, she provides the students with a variety of materials, such as gram weights, counters, cups of water, and office supplies. Students work in pairs to measure the items and record their results.

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