10 Benefits of Inquiry-Based Learning in the Classroom

06 May 2024
Learning Management System

What is the best teaching method? Answering such a question is difficult, especially when each teacher has an individualized teaching process. Besides, what might work for one class may not work for others; therefore, employing several pedagogies is imperative.

Nevertheless, it is worth noting that an ideal instructional approach such as inquiry-based learning leads to greater student engagement. It motivates students to ask questions, research, explore, and draw conclusions.

What is inquiry-based learning?

Inquiry-based learning is a teaching methodology that establishes a student-centric environment, allowing students to inquire. In fact, it is an effective learning technique that urges students to embark on a self-discovery journey.

Furthermore, it is one of the finest examples of experiential learning that helps students connect classroom learning with real-world scenarios. Therefore, they get the chance to assess the practical application of what they learn in class.

Types of inquiry-based learning

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Structured Inquiry Approach

The structured inquiry approach follows a determined path that teachers develop in order to carry out a well-planned activity. For example, teachers assign a problem or experiment, and the students investigate and solve it.

It involves five phases, namely orientation, conceptualization, investigation, conclusion, and discussion, all of which are interconnected. Consequently, the approach boosts critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.

Open-Ended Inquiry Approach

Contrary to structured inquiry, the open-ended inquiry approach is unrestricted and free and allows students to explore their interests. In fact, students ask topic-related and various questions.

Also, this approach is appropriate for humanities classes, wherein students can explore several topics and conduct discussions. Therefore, it is an effective strategy, whether teachers employ it in e-learning or traditional classrooms.

Problem-Based Inquiry Approach

It is a problem-solving-based instructional technique wherein students collaborate on solving problems and reflect on their experiences. Also, students solve real-world problems by applying the knowledge they obtained in previous classes.

Guided Inquiry Approach

Teachers play a significant role in the guided inquiry approach as they help students through the inquiry process. Also, they motivate them to ask questions and identify appropriate solutions to real-world problems.

Benefits of Inquiry-Based Learning

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1. Boosts problem-solving skills

In traditional educational approaches, students learn concepts and ideas from the book while also grasping theoretical examples. In contrast, inquiry-based learning provides opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience.

In fact, instead of solving textbook-oriented problems, they work on real-world problems by investing time in research and investigation. Therefore, students explore their options in terms of credible sources for accurate information.

Also, instead of taking anything at face value, they assess if a particular solution applies to the situation or problem at hand. Furthermore, learners might discuss with peers; however, ultimately, they make their own decisions.

As a result, they examine assumptions and hypotheses, helping to determine the optimum solution. In effect, it boosts their problem-solving skills, which prove useful while dealing with academic or personal issues.

2. Stimulates critical thinking

Do students verify the information that they gather? How can one detect fallacies and misinformation? Addressing such questions is crucial, especially when students are vulnerable to following what most believe and follow.

No wonder mob mentality or herd mentality is a major concern that contributes to a lack of individuality. That is where inquiry-based learning can make a major difference by enabling students to analyze and evaluate information.

Students don’t readily accept information without in-depth inquiry, cross-checking, and asking relevant questions. Also, they strive to identify the gaps between the given topic and sources and develop data-backed solutions.

3. Boosts Creativity

What do you do when a problem seems to have no easy solution? Difficult or odd issues require extra effort and time to come up with suitable solutions. That is where creative thinking emerges as the need of the hour.

Hence, students might encounter difficulty drawing proper conclusions while exploring different real-world problems. They begin to think ‘’outside the box’’ and seek various sources to find a remedy to particular issues.

Furthermore, a singular, specific thinking pattern does not limit them; instead, they expand their horizons and delve into alternative possibilities. Besides, creative thinking enables learners to become effective problem solvers.

Also, it helps to break away from ineffective thinking patterns and come up with new and original ideas. More importantly, it encourages curiosity and learning among students.

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4. Improves communication skills

Teachers employ group projects and assignments as a part of the experiential learning activities in the class. Therefore, students need to express themselves openly in these activities, which is difficult if they cannot communicate.

Nevertheless, teachers can utilize tools like LMS to create an interactive learning environment, encouraging students to participate. When teachers incorporate inquiry-based learning exercises, students actively take part.

In fact, they communicate and express their thoughts and opinions; they strive to explain their stand and perspectives on topics. At the same time, they learn to listen to their team members and support or dissent based on facts and credible sources. In effect, it improves their communication skills.

5. Developing Connections Between Learning and Real-World

Does the knowledge that students obtain in the classroom apply in the real world? How is it relevant to real-world problems? Studying for the sake of passing a test does not amount to much, as it does not add value to learning.

Institutes and educators must facilitate teaching and pedagogical methods that help students experience purposeful learning. For example, when students discover issues affecting society and the world at large, they seek possible solutions.

Simultaneously, they succeed in developing a connection between learning and the real world. As a result, they can determine the relevancy of educational content and grasp a better understanding.

6. Increases student engagement

Students taking notes as the teacher dictates them is a common scenario in traditional classrooms. Moreover, lectures and other passive learning mechanisms may have their advantages but might not stimulate interest.

That is why implementing active learning techniques is a major instructional approach that teachers must prioritize. Inquiry-based learning is a great method to stimulate student engagement both in and outside the class.

Furthermore, when students take an active interest in their learning, they have ownership and are able to retain information. Why? The reason lies in the fact that they invest time and effort in obtaining knowledge.

7. Applicable Across Different Classroom Settings

One of the significant benefits of inquiry-based learning is that teachers can integrate it into any classroom setting. In effect, it provides multiple advantages, such as:

  • Teachers can optimize the content as per students’ learning needs.
  • Students can take part in offline or online learning class activities effectively.
  • Exercises can take the form of brainstorming sessions, full lessons, group projects, stand-alone assignments, and presentations.

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8. Helps Comprehend Complex Topics

With the progression of each academic stage, students encounter varying levels of topics, they may or may not be familiar with. However, in some cases, they have prior knowledge but in others, they need teachers help and further studying.

Inquiry-based learning encourages one to delve into the depths of all topics and obtain relevant information. In effect, they succeed in understanding complex topics and can explain them to others as well.

9. Information Literacy and Research Skills

Students acquire the capability of conducting elaborate research, determining the accuracy of facts and making conclusions. They analyze the information before accepting it as the ‘’absolute truth’’.

Simultaneously, learners develop effective research skills, enabling them to assess the credibility of sources.

10. Autonomy and Self-Direction

In teacher-centric educational approaches, students follow instructions and are reliant on teachers. In contrast, inquiry-based learning encourages students to take ownership of learning and obtain knowledge.

Therefore, autonomy and self-direction are two vital outcomes of the student-centric technique that contribute to learning outcomes.

To wrap It up,

Inquiry-based learning is an excellent teaching and learning methodology that inspires students to ask questions. It is an active learning and student-centric mechanism that stimulates confidence and interest in learning.

Additionally, it allows students to get out of their comfort zone and explore various sources, helping to improve their cognitive abilities.

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Prashant Borkar Author:

Prashant Borkar,

Academic Consultant

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