According to the American Association of School Librarians, inquiry-based research is “a student-centered approach to learning which naturally utilizes higher order thinking, problem-solving, and information processing via questioning.” Inquiry-based research is student-directed, involves critical thinking and problem-solving, creates new knowledge, and involves open-ended questioning and basic research skills. Bringing inquiry-based research into your classroom will benefit all of your students!
Like all types of research, inquiry-based research should be started with a research process. Some research processes are better suited to the qualities of inquiry-based research than others. There are many examples to choose from that are based on inquiry-based research concepts. The Big 6/ Super 3 model can be used with any grade level. The WISE model works well in elementary school. Kuhlthau’s Guided Inquiry and Stripling’s models are better used with middle and high school students. The Five Es work well with scientific inquiry, and the Geo-Inquiry process offers a geographic perspective. There is even an inquiry questioning model! Choose the model that you feel will work best in your classroom with your students.
There are many examples of ways to get started moving your students toward independence in their inquiry journey and creating a culture of inquiry in your classroom. Whether you want to start small or go big, one of the best ways to start is centering student research around something they wonder about. A WebQuest is a scaffolded entry into inquiry-based research. They can be used with elementary, middle, or high school students. STEAM education has many venues for inquiry into things that students wonder about. The world around them is something that students are always curious about. Inquiry-based research can be used in conjunction with a variety of topics like place-based learning, animals, human rights, argument essays, and even organic gardening. The benefits of inquiry-based learning to your students will make you happy that you decided to take this journey with them!
Inquiry-based research will allow you to bring more student choice and voice into your classroom and help them develop research skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. As always, check out TeachersFirst resources and blog posts for more information. Attend our upcoming OK2Ask session Scaffolding Inquiry-Based Research for more in-depth professional development!