“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” Chinese Proverb
I believe inquiry-based learning is the key to developing students understanding along with assessing their knowledge. Inquiry based learning is involving the learner and leading them to understand by asking good questions. I believe it is the core of teaching and learning. Questioning along with finding answers is an exceptionally important aspect of inquiry based learning as it helps the teacher facilitate students to effectively generate knowledge.
I’m often surprised how many teachers want to always be right with their student’s, which leads them to not ask good questions. I think one of the reasons why I am successful in the classroom is because I pretend I don’t know the answer to problems to help probe the students to ask more questions. For example, when we do our inquiry-based experiment-Does it sink or float? students always ask, “Why does the diet coke float and coke sink?” I could answer this two ways; I could tell the student the answer or I could simply say, “I don’t know, what do you think?”
Good questions always lead to more good questions. This question now opens the student up to start thinking why and leads them to ask more questions such as; how would the cans react in salt water? Or does it matter if the soda is room temperature or cold?
If it doesn’t lead them to more questions then it leads them to at least wanting to know the answer. This is when it is important for the teacher to say, ‘Why don’t you see if you can find the answer,’ verse telling the student the answer. When students discover the answer on their own it impacts them more and helps them understand the process of learning. Within a few minutes at the computer the student found this great video that explains why diet floats. http://www.sciencedojo.com/?p=192 . This leads to a great opportunity to ask the next question; “When would you see this happening in the real world?” This brings students to make a connection to the inquiry-based experiment and the real world.
Inquiry-based learning is not just for science but for all subjects. When teachers ask good questions, it can motivate students to want to learn new things, investigate why things work or how to solve a problem. Students need to be involved in the learning process. Asking the right questions in the right way, and you’ll engage students!