This video is about Inquiry-Based Learning.
In The Order of Phoenix, the fifth of the Harry Potter series, Dolorus Umbridge takes over as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and instantly transforms the class into a textbook-based class focused on passing the standardized tests. When Harry questions whether this will prepare them for the chaos of fighting against Vold . . . err . . . um . . . he who must not be named . . . Umbridge punishes him and he ends up forming his own school within a school called Dumbledore’s Army.
Dumbledore’s Army is purely inquiry-based. While Harry is the teacher, he is mostly a guide on the side, empowering the students to ask questions and find the answers themselves. They rely on each other and on various spell books to solve problems and answer their questions. While the process might seem messy compared to Umbridge’s approach, the students learn at a rapid pace because they aren’t wasting time repeating what they already know.
This is an example of inquiry-based learning.
Although since it takes place in the UK, it’s probably enquiry-based learning.
History of Inquiry-Based Learning
Inquiry-based learning has existed for thousands of years. Socrates and Confucius both used variations on an inquiry-based format. It’s a critical component of the scientific method of the early enlightenment and it was a core idea within both Dewey and Montessori’s notions of student-centered learning.
Pedaste shares a model of the four phases of inquiry. It starts with orientation, which is often a discussion. From there, it moves into conceptualization, where students generate questions and define a hypothesis. This leads to investigation, where students explore, experiment, and interpret data, often in a way that is flexible and dynamic. Finally, they move into a a conclusion.
Heather Banchi and Randy Bell define four different types of inquiry that you can view on a spectrum from teacher-centered / structured to learner-centered / open.
Level 1 is Confirmation Inquiry, where the teacher teachers the concepts, creates the questions, and models the process for students.
Level 2: is Structured Inquiry, where the teacher creates the initial questions and shares the procedures then walk through the rest of the inquiry process by collecting and analyzing data and drawing conclusions.
Level 3 is Guided Inquiry, where the teacher provides the research questions but students own the research or experimentation process.
Level 4 is Open/True Inquiry. Here students formulate their own questions, design their own experiments or research, collect their own data, and share their findings.
According to Banchi and Bell, teachers should start with levels 1 and 2 and use those as scaffolding, so that students can learn the inquiry process.
Here are a few places you can start with inquiry-based learning.
In language arts or social studies, you can do a wonder-day or wonder week project, where students develop their own questions and move through the inquiry process. You can also do a Genius Hour project, where students not only ask their own questions but design their own product as a result. In math, you can have students explore a concept and develop their own problems. And in science, you could do a science fair project or a myth-buster style approach to testing an urban legend.
If we want students to own their learning, we need them to remain curious. And this is why inquiry-based learning is so valuable.
National Institute for Health. (2005). Doing Science: The Process of Science Inquiry. http://science.education.nih.gov/supplements/nih6/inquiry/guide/info_process-a.htm
Bell, T.; Urhahne, D.; Schanze, S.; Ploetzner, R. (2010). "Collaborative inquiry learning: Models, tools, and challenges". International Journal of Science Education. 3 (1): 349–377. Bibcode:2010IJSEd..32..349B.
Bruner, J. S. (1961). "The act of discovery". Harvard Educational Review 31 (1): 21–32.
*Note that this is a great work from Bruner, who is one of my favorite theorists