What is Inquiry-Based Learning?


Like all professions, teaching has its trends: differentiated instruction, 21st-century classroom, streaming then de-streaming, etc. The current hot teaching trend finding its way into classrooms across Ontario is Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL).

IBL is essentially a method of learning that is student-centred where teachers guide students through the process of questioning, researching, analyzing, interpreting, creating, sharing and re-thinking. This type of learning is often project-based or focuses on an overreaching question that dominates a particular unit of study.

At first glance, teachers, students and parents may be wary of IBL as it seems to lack structure and specific learning outcomes, but in reality, that is its strength. Inquiry-Based Learning doesn’t limit student’s interests, learning capacities or styles to a dictated methodology. It allows them to explore learning about a question, curiosity or topic at their own pace, in their own way with their teacher as their guide, mentor and sounding board.

Your child may already be taking part in IBL projects in their classroom, as the method of teaching has many pseudonyms: passion projects, genius hour, questioning, project-based learning, etc.

If you are interested in how to support them in their learning, ask their classroom teacher for the strategies they are using to guide students so you can mimic them at home. But whatever you do, don’t influence or dictate what they should be learning and how they should go about doing it! It’s tough to take the role of the observer and guide, but that is the key to successful Inquiry-Based Learning.

If you are interested in learning more about IBL, there are oodles of resources online via the Ontario Ministry of Education.

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