What is Inquiry?

Inquiry learning provides opportunities for students to experience and acquire processes through which they can gather information about the world. This requires a high level of interaction among the learner, the teacher, the area of study, available resources, and the learning environment. Students become actively involved in the learning process as they:

  • act upon their curiosity and interests;
  • develop questions;
  • think their way through controversies or dilemmas;
    look at problems analytically;
  • inquire into their preconceptions and what they already know;
  • develop, clarify, and test hypotheses; and,
  • draw inferences and generate possible solutions.

Questioning is the heart of inquiry learning. Students must ask relevant questions and develop ways to search for answers and generate explanations. Emphasis is placed upon the process of thinking as this applies to student interaction with issues, data, topics, concepts, materials, and problems.

Divergent thinking is encouraged and nurtured as students recognize that questions often have more than one "good" or "correct" answer. Such thinking leads in many instances to elaboration of further questions. In this way students come to the realization that knowledge may not be fixed and permanent but may be tentative, emergent, and open to questioning and alternative hypotheses.

Deductive Inquiry

The focus in deductive inquiry is on moving students from a generalized principle to specific instances that may be subsumed logically within generalizations. The process of testing generalized assumptions, applying them, and exploring the relationships between, specific elements is stressed. The teacher co-ordinates the information and presents important principles, themes, or hypotheses. Students are actively engaged in testing generalizations, gathering information, and applying it to specific examples. Deductive inquiry is based upon the logical assimilation and processing of information.

Inductive Inquiry

The information-seeking process of the inductive inquiry method helps students to establish facts, determine relevant questions, develop ways to pursue these questions, and build explanations. Students are invited to develop and support their own hypotheses.

Through inductive inquiry, students experience the thought processes which require them to move from specific facts and observations to inferences. To help students accomplish this, the teacher selects a set of events or materials for the lesson. The student reacts and attempts to construct a meaningful pattern based on personal observations and the observations of others. Students generally have some kind of theoretical frame when they begin inductive inquiry. The teacher encourages students to share their thoughts so that the entire class can benefit from individual insights.

Teachers Resources

 

 


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