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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


An Inquiry Based Learning Approach

By Andrew Loh

"Inquiry based approaches to science education focus on student constructed learning as opposed to teacher-transmitted information" - Wilfred A. Franklin

Inquiry based learning is an old concept of learning. This form of learning is an educational concept that relies more on a learner's side of involvement than a teacher's intervention. This approach is quite different from a traditional mode of learning. In a conventional classroom, teachers use a system, where they come to the class with a set of pre-prepared course curriculum and deliver them to the students on a sequential mode. In fact, they are the active facilitators of teaching by providing a source of skills and knowledge to the students. The entire teaching process is teacher-driven, when the teacher manages and administers the entire proceedings.

On the other hand, an inquiry based learning system drives the students to learn in a productive manner. Here, the teacher or instructors act as mentors or guides to lead students to learn their lessons. The teacher-in-charge will allow the students to come with their own queries and questions that eventually help them learn with a motivated mind. 

Children are curious and motivated to know and learn anything that interests them. Their intense desire to learn new things, will lead them to design, create, master and experiment with different things and issues. In an inquiry based learning system, there are two important entities. A child will have his or her interests and motivation to drive the learning process. On the contrary, both parents and teachers just act as facilitators or mentors in the entire learning process. An inquiry based learning process is evolving and organic, apart from its dynamic and interactive nature. It means that a child, who uses this approach is very active when he or she gets an active interest in learning. An inquiry based learning process involves the following important factors:

New discovery - Something interests and intrigues children that eventually force them to know more about it. This intriguing thing can fuel a child's imagination and drive to learn more. This very precious response system works very well for any child. An urge or drive to explore new domains or things will help a child to try his or her maximum best to master the basics of lessons.

A sense of action to drive the learning process - Although children are busy learning their lessons, teachers keep observing and mentoring their activities. They will also provide many opportunities to children to ask their questions and seek clarifications. During the process of learning, children start collecting information and details regarding the lessons. In this way, children will interact with other children to learn on a mutual basis. Team learning is an excellent way to learn new things and lessons.

Results or outcome - At the end of the learning process, the children will assess their performance with the active help from their teachers. This step is a reflection period, when children compare their performance level and later assess what can be done to improve their performance. The teacher, who is in charge, will help them in the process. Once children feel confident, they can probe and test new areas, domains and territories. The outcome is academic excellence, cooperation and teamwork.

For example, let us assume that a few children will ask their teacher how differently musicians perform on a stage, instead of performing on the floor. The teacher in charge may motivate the children to find the answers for their questions. Mutual discussions among children and a round of introspection will help everyone to design an imaginary stage, where different musicians play different musical instruments. In another extension, children can even take the role of individual musicians and start playing their own imaginary instruments.

With an inquiry-based learning, your children can easily learn many things and master many skills like:

Self-belief - Children start believing in themselves in their skills and abilities. They also perceive themselves as skilled, knowledgeable, competent, capable and highly valued.

Motivation - Children develop higher levels of motivation to learn on their own. In fact, this acts as a fuel to burn goal-driven objectives.

Mind to investigate and probe - Children, who use an inquiry based learning process, will develop self-confidence that drives them forward to achieve many great things in life.

Cooperation - Children who use an inquiry based learning approach help others and get help from them too.

Self-expression - Children who use this approach will also master the art of self-expression. They will develop the strength and capability to provide answers to any type of questions.

Continue to read Inquiry Based Learning - Parental Techniques here!


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