Inquiry Based Learning

Inquiry Process           Resources             Experts               

Applications                 Research               Bibliography         

Definition of Inquiry:
 
Inquiry based learning is a learning style in which student-centered engagement with teacher facilitation is the focal point of learning. In this learning style the common held belief that there is “a correct answer” is not considered a truth. Instead, it encourages student to explore all possible answers to a posed question or problem. Students accomplish this by researching and exploring topics that are relevant and engaging in an effort to find possible answers to that proposed question or problem. (This definition is according to the creators of this page.)
 
History and Background:
 
The use of inquiry in an educational setting was not brought into prominence by one creator. Instead it is an educational concept built upon by the ideas of several different men who took a different educational stance than everyone else, over a period of time. The most prominent of these men is John Dewey who had vast amounts of knowledge on how learners learn, and how to uncover that potential. With the contributions of these men the use of Inquiry was conceived, believed to have first been adopted in the 1960’s.
 
John Dewey-(1859-1952) Dewey finished public school at the age of 12. He selected college-preparatory track in high school in the year of 1812. He completed his high school courses within three years. He continued his education after graduating high school. He started University of Vermont in Burlington in 1875, all this was done at the age of 16. He graduated College in 1879 and with the help of some family members he became a high school teacher in Oil City, Pennsylvania. He returned to Vermont in 1881, he combined his high school teaching with studying philosophy.
 
           "Dewey was intrigued by the relationship between the individual and society. Firmly committed to democratic outlook, he considered the school a laboratory to test his notion that education could integrate learning with experience. The University Elementary School or Laboratory School established by Dewey grew quickly. Parents were attracted by curriculum that emphasized the child instead of the subject matter, where the learning process was at least as important as what was learned, and where curiosity was encouraged."
 
                Dewey did not have full control of the curriculum like he had hoped, so he left the Laboratory school and continued his journey in the area of Philosophy. Dewey was the main founder of what is known now as the Democratic Schools and inquiry based education. As a firm believer in allowing and encouraging curiosity, as well as connecting learning with experience, he was one of the main developers of inquiry based instruction.
 
 
 
Joseph J. Schwab (1909-1988) was always fascinated with science. He finished high school in three years and went on to college. He went to the University of Chicago where he spent nearly 50 years receiving degrees in English Literature (Ph.B.), Zoology (S.M.), and genetics (Ph.D.). Schwab was an important figure for educational research; he was very big on teaching and learning in a different way. He came up with what is known as "The Practical." The Practical was a way to not just challenge curriculum but to transform it. It brought inquiry up to a whole new level, it brought it up to the college and even the professional levels. The transformation he done with the curriculum was bring it up to date with his ideology of inquiry.
 
 
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was a British philosopher and a believer as well as a leader of Social Darwinism. "Spencer believed that the way to gain knowledge was through a scientific approach." He had a huge impact on education and on later philosophers such as the popular philosopher John Dewey. Spencer also had apart in political thoughts. He wrote a few different books such as Social Statics and The Principals of Psychology. 
 
 
 
                Dr. John Goodlad, educational expert and author, co-founded the Center for Eductional Renewal, a national organization of schools and universities who promote the development of the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are required for successful participation in our nation’s social and political democracy. The organization is based in Seattle, Washington with regional components throughout the U.S. Goodlad is the main influencer and founder in what is called the democratic school. Democratic schools help students learn to participate in a democracy by allowing them to have a say in what they learn. Goodlad has combined this teaching of participatory democracy with inquiry. He is  president and founder of The Institute of Inquiry.