Inquiry based learning (henceforth referred to as IBL) is an inquisitive approach to science teaching, that uses questioning as its key component, encourages the development of problem solving skills through interactive involvement, and aims to grant a deeper understanding of the concept to be taught through the use of the five Es. Inquiry based learning is driven by the student, and can be used in a variety of ways, according to Boggess (http://assessment.tamu.edu/seminars/110807_Boggess.pdf); examples include group work, discussion, writing, using the web, activities inside and outside the classroom, engagement, and diversity. Although inclusion is not explicit within the IBL strategy, the fact that IBL is based around questioning assumes that the classroom is learning together, benefiting from the questions of others – in other words, that it conforms with the fundamental idea of group work. Through the IBL strategies, I and my partner created a wiki which aimed to teach to stage 3 aspects about river ecosystems. This critique will discuss each of the above mentioned examples and will demonstrate how, when and why they were used in the IBL strategy.
Teachers use IBL to encourage students to develop their research skills and the external bonds with other students in the class, using each student’s prior knowledge to enrich that of others. The benefits are highly applicable to Science, where the prior knowledge of individual students often varies greatly, and the interconnectedness of science to other subjects leave ample opportunities for integration and research. Science skills that are facilitated by IBL include “posing questions, planning, conducting and critiquing investigations, collecting, analysing and interpreting evidence and communicating findings” (lecture notes 1). This research will enable students to build on their understanding and attain higher levels of bloom’s taxonomy in regards to learning about science through IBL.
One issue with IBL that makes it difficult to teach to groups is the fact that its openness to questions means that it is difficult to answer all the students’ questions in the time allotted. However, this aspect can also be viewed as an advantage as it inspires the students to find out the answers to their own questions, which in turn inspires them to ask more questions, feeding a continuous cycle of inquiry based learning. This minimises the role the teacher plays and allows him/her to facilitate rather than transmit the required knowledge.
With this in mind, I and my partner constructed a wiki which contained a series of learning experiences. It aimed to use inquiry based learning to facilitate learning about river ecosystems, conforming to the stage 3 syllabus. After the wiki was constructed, it was peer reviewed and my partner and we took up the advice described in the peer review. Below is a critique of the final version of the wiki through the IBL framework.
Inquiry Based Learning was used...