21st Century Skills Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice


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Visit emeraldpublishing. Abstract This chapter provides an introduction to how the inquiry-based learning IBL approach is being used by colleges and universities around the world to improve faculty and institutional development and to strengthen the interconnections between teaching, learning, and research.

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Inquiry based learning -- annotated bibliography: SGDE Showcase

Share feedback. Join us on our journey Platform update page Visit emeraldpublishing. Students are to formulate explanations of their findings through evaluating and analyzing the data that they collect. Level 3 : Guided Inquiry The teacher provides only the research question for the students. The students are responsible for designing and following their own procedures to test that question and then communicate their results and findings.

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This type of inquiry is often seen in science fair contexts where students drive their own investigative questions. Open inquiry activities are only successful if students are motivated by intrinsic interests and if they are equipped with the skills to conduct their own research study. An important aspect of inquiry-based learning and science is the use of open learning, as evidence suggests that only utilizing lower level inquiry is not enough to develop critical and scientific thinking to the full potential. There is an emphasis on the individual manipulating information and creating meaning from a set of given materials or circumstances.

Open learning has many benefits. In open learning there are no wrong results, and students have to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the results they collect themselves and decide their value. He emphasized that students should not be taught bald facts, but should understand and explain what they are learning. His most famous example of this was when he asked physics students to tell him what the speed of a falling object was.


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Nearly all students would produce an equation, but no students could explain what this equation meant. Inquiry learning has been used as a teaching and learning tool for thousands of years, however, the use of inquiry within public education has a much briefer history. It was not until the Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason, during the late 17th and 18th century that the subject of Science was considered a respectable academic body of knowledge. Unfortunately, there is still evidence that some students are still receiving this type of science instruction today.

John Dewey, a well-known philosopher of education at the beginning of the 20th century, was the first to criticize the fact that science education was not taught in a way to develop young scientific thinkers. Dewey proposed that science should be taught as a process and way of thinking — not as a subject with facts to be memorized. Joseph Schwab was an educator who proposed that science did not need to be a process for identifying stable truths about the world that we live in, but rather science could be a flexible and multi-directional inquiry driven process of thinking and learning.

Schwab believed that science in the classroom should more closely reflect the work of practicing scientists. Schwab developed three levels of open inquiry that align with the breakdown of inquiry processes that we see today.

21st century skills development through inquiry-based learning

Today, we know that students at all levels of education can successfully experience and develop deeper level thinking skills through scientific inquiry. This historical scientific breakthrough caused a great deal of concern around the science and technology education the American students were receiving. In the U. Science naturally lends itself to investigation and collection of data, but it is applicable in other subject areas where people are developing critical thinking and investigation skills.

Next, people studying the curriculum are given a question and primary sources such as eye witness historical accounts, and the task for inquiry is to create an interpretation of history that will answer the central question. It is held that through the inquiry people will develop skills and factual knowledge that supports their answers to a question. They will form an hypothesis, collect and consider information and revisit their hypothesis as they evaluate their data. As research shows, children learn best through play, whether it is independently or in a group.

A chart on page 15 clearly outlines the process of inquiry for young children, including initial engagement, exploration, investigation, and communication. Since the program is extremely new, there is limited research on its success and areas of improvement. One government research report was released with the initial groups of children in the new kindergarten program. There are several common misconceptions regarding inquiry-based science, the first being that inquiry science is simply instruction that teaches students to follow the scientific method.


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Many teachers had the opportunity to work within the constraints of the scientific method as students themselves and figure inquiry learning must be the same. Inquiry science is not just about solving problems in six simple steps but much more broadly focused on the intellectual problem-solving skills developed throughout a scientific process. Some educators believe that there is only one true method of inquiry, which would be described as the level four: Open Inquiry.

While open inquiry may be the most authentic form of inquiry, there are many skills and a level of conceptual understanding that the students must have developed before they can be successful at this high level of inquiry. A multifaceted approach to science keeps students engaged and learning. Not every student is going to learn the same amount from an inquiry lesson; students must be invested in the topic of study to authentically reach the set learning goals. Teachers must be prepared to ask students questions to probe their thinking processes in order to assess accurately.

Inquiry-science requires a lot of time, effort, and expertise, however, the benefits outweigh the cost when true authentic learning can take place [ citation needed ]. The literature states that inquiry requires multiple cognitive processes and variables, such as causality and co-occurrence that enrich with age and experience. By completing an inquiry-based task at the end of the study, the participants demonstrated enhanced mental models by applying different inquiry strategies.

Results demonstrated that children benefitted from the scaffolding because they outperformed the grade seven control group on an inquiry task. Inquiry-based learning is fundamental for the development of higher order thinking skills.


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The higher order thinking skills that students have the opportunity to develop during inquiry activities will assist in the critical thinking skills that they will be able to transfer to other subjects. As shown in the section above on the neuroscience of inquiry learning, it is significant to scaffold students to teach them how to inquire and inquire through the four levels.

It cannot be assumed that they know how to inquire without foundational skills. Scaffolding the students at a younger age will result in enriched inquiring learning later. Remember to keep in mind… [34].

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There is a necessity for professional collaboration when executing a new inquiry program Chu, ; Twigg, The teacher training and process of using inquiry learning should be a joint mission to ensure the maximal amount of resources are used and that the teachers are producing the best learning scenarios. The scholarly literature supports this notion. Nonetheless the constructivist movement gained great momentum in the s, because many educators began to write about this philosophy of learning.

For example, they describe a project called GenScope, an inquiry-based science software application. Students using the GenScope software showed significant gains over the control groups, with the largest gains shown in students from basic courses. In contrast, Hmelo-Silver et al. This study also found that inquiry-based teaching methods greatly reduced the achievement gap for African-American students.

Based on their research, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute concluded that while inquiry-based learning is fine to some degree, it has been carried to excess. Richard E.

He reviewed research on discovery of problem-solving rules culminating in the s, discovery of conservation strategies culminating in the s, and discovery of LOGO programming strategies culminating in the s. In each case, guided discovery was more effective than pure discovery in helping students learn and transfer. It should be cautioned that inquiry-based learning takes a lot of planning before implementation.

21st Century Skills Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice 21st Century Skills Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice
21st Century Skills Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice 21st Century Skills Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice
21st Century Skills Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice 21st Century Skills Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice
21st Century Skills Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice 21st Century Skills Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice
21st Century Skills Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice 21st Century Skills Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice
21st Century Skills Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice 21st Century Skills Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice
21st Century Skills Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice 21st Century Skills Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice

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