Inquiry Based Learning - Parental Techniques
By Andrew Loh
Inquiries, questions, queries and answers form the backbone of
inquiry-based learning. The main goal of this approach is to raise
curiosity level in children, so that they can find answers to any
questions with their own efforts. With an inquiry-based approach,
children can easily imagine things and scenarios that eventually provide
answers to any types of questions. However, teachers and parents should
learn the art of asking the right type of questions before trying to
teach the basics of inquiry based learning. The basic of inquiry is very
simple - "Questions are the answers." Both parents and
teachers should pose questions that are open-ended and those lead to more
answers. The basic art of asking questions is an artful thing. The
questions that you ask should not confuse or mislead children; rather,
they should open their minds to ask more questions.
Here are some simple tips and techniques to introduce inquiry based
learning in your children:
Note: A question can be either very bad or very good! Just remember
that questions can either make a child answer it or force him or her not
to answer it. A question can easily open several conversations only when
you ask it in a proper manner. Some pre-conceived ideas or prejudices
can easily influence the kind of answers you get from your children.
Here are some simple examples:
Let us presume this scenario. Let us think that you are teaching your
children how to write a poem on sunrise. Now, consider how children
could respond to your questions. Here are some questions that you can
ask your children:
"Nobody has ever written a poem on sunrise, did they?"
"Has anyone written a poem on sunrise?"
"What do you understand about writing a poem on sunrise?"
"How does a poem on sunrise feel like?"
Outcome: Do you think that children will open and provide answers to
all these questions? Just consider the merit of the questions given
above. The first question is completely negative and you can ensure a
negative or no reply from your children. The second one is somewhat
positive. However, your children are still confused about its merit. You
can get a positive answer, negative one, or even a no answer to that
question. On the other hand, the third one is sure to generate some
positive answers. Your children may give a range of answers to your
question that may range from simple to complex ones. The last
question is an open-ended question that forces all children to provide a
series of answers. In fact, that question will give many inputs to
your children so that they can think over it before providing an answer.
The question that you ask should have its own merits and it should
invite validation of certain set of prior skills and knowledge.
Practice your questions in an appropriate manner. You may need to
structure your questions in a manner that elicit answers from children.
The questions should connect to your children's IQ and intellect. Never
ever, ask questions those are above their intelligence. Limit your
questions to suit their intelligence and skill levels. Now, what types
of questions would lead to a properly structured inquiry-based learning
session? Good questions are always open-ended and they give you definite answers.
Here are some questions that will create a good inquiry-based learning schedule:
Answerable questions: The questions that you ask should be answerable by
your children. "What is the poem The Sun Rises in the East based on?" is
quite answerable. On the contrary, "Why did Tom write it?" is not an
open-ended question. In fact, you are shutting your children's mouth
because they do not how to answer it. Your children will not have any
answers in their mind. Consider another example. Let us consider the
same poem. If you ask, why Tom chose that topic to write a poem, your
children will not be able to answer because that person is no more and
only he knows why he chose that topic.
The answer should not relate to simple facts: If you ask your children,
"in what year did our country become independent?" then you are asking
something that almost everyone knows. That information is available in
almost all books. Instead, you can ask, "how did your country get its
independence?" then your children will have something to think over
before answering that question. In essence, your children should be able
to conduct a small research in their mind before answering the question.
Your children should not know the answer: You may need to ask some
questions for which your children do not possess a ready-made answer.
Ask those questions that cajole your children to conduct a mental
The questions should be objective and reasonable: If you ask question
that is not reasonable then your children may not answer it properly.
Let us consider this example. "Why milk is white?" could be answered
with a small round of research. On the contrary, "Why the cow made its
milk white?" is not objective enough for a valid answer. Both of these
questions look very valid and fit enough to get an answer. However, the
second one is difficult to answer because of its nature. The second
question may look all right, but your children cannot provide a valid
answer because it is hypothetical and not appropriate for an
inquiry-based learning process.
In essence, as the name suggests, an inquiry-based learning system works
on curiosity and inquisitiveness. As your children, develop an ability
to find answer to questions of different nature, their intellect and IQ
starts improving gradually and in an assured manner.
Inquiry-Based Learning Using Everyday Objects: Hands-On Instructional Strategies That Promote Active Learning in Grades 3-8
By Ms. Amy Edmonds Alvarado, Mrs. Patricia R. Herr
Object-based inquiry is a tested method that enhances the skills
of the student, as well as the instructor, by engaging students
in hands-on studies of everyday objects, raising their curiosity
and enthusiasm for the learning process. Hands-on instructional
strategies foster active learning, allowing students to
investigate essential questions, while at the same time meeting
curriculum standards and creating a profoundly new learning
In this exciting new book, educators and authors Amy Edmonds
Alvarado and Patricia R. Herr explore the concept of using
everyday objects as a process initiated both by students and
teachers, encouraging growth in student observation,
inquisitiveness, and reflection in learning.