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What is inquiry-based learning?
How does it differ from the traditional approach?
What does it have to do with my classroom?
What are the benefits of inquiry-based learning?
How has inquiry-based learning developed since it first became popular?
Another perspective
What are some critical perspectives?
How can I use inquiry-based learning in conjunction with other educational techniques?

What are the benefits of inquiry-based learning?

One of the important missing pieces in many modern schools is a coherent and simplified process for increasing knowledge of a subject from lower grades to upper grades. Students often have difficulty understanding how various activities within a particular subject relate to each other. Much more confusion results when the learner tries to interrelate the various subjects taught at school.

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Lisa Nyberg, a third- and fourth-grade teacher at Brattain Elementary School in Springfield, Oregon, says exposure to a concept from different angles cements kids' understanding in a way a single kind of exposure does not.
Too little effort is devoted to defining important outcomes at the end of high school and planning backwards and across subjects. Inquiry-based learning can help make these connections.

Specific content such as photosynthesis has much more relevance for the learner if set in a larger context of understanding the interrelationship of the sun, green plants, and the role of carbon dioxide and water. Social studies content, such as industrial development, set in the context of interrelating changes in the human-designed world can add new perspectives to this important natural process. Students can still learn content of both science and social studies, but through a series of well-planned experiences, they will grasp the larger conceptual context and gain greater understanding.

Within a conceptual framework, inquiry learning and active learner involvement can lead to important outcomes in the classroom. Students who actively make observations, collect, analyze, and synthesize information, and draw conclusions are developing useful problem-solving skills. These skills can be applied to future "need to know" situations that students will encounter both at school and at work.

Another benefit that inquiry-based learning offers is the development of habits of mind that can last a lifetime and guide learning and creative thinking.


Workshop: Inquiry-based Learning
Explanation | Demonstration | Exploration | Implementation

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