Inquiry based learning is a great way to spark curiosity in students. By allowing students to to have a hand in directing their education it gives them greater interest in what they are learning. When the students are genuinely interested in the information they are being provided they are more likely to learn and retain the information. Using inquiry based learning may not be the easiest classroom technique, but it can be the most beneficial to the students and to you as a teacher.
The key to inquiry based learning is questions. By implementing questions to lessons and activities you can find out what your students already know, what they would like to learn, the way each individual student learns best, and much more than can benefit you and your students in the classroom. I always hear a teacher’s main job is to guide your students. Asking the right questions helps you do just that. It is important to ask the right questions, the questions that will get the interest of your students. Questions can come into play at any point throughout a unit. You can brainstorm with your students at the beginning, have class discussions throughout a unit, surveys at the end of each day, or at the end of the unit you can review with your class. What is even more important than simply asking questions is making sure you act on your student’s answers. Asking for your student’s participation wont do any good if you do not take their questions and answers and use them in the lessons. You have to show that you genuinely care as an educator. For example, if you are teaching a lesson on Nebraska History and the students say they would like to learn more about the Oregon Trail, but you completely skip over that lesson the students may feel that you do not have a genuine interest in their interests.
Inquiry based learning can be difficult to implement in the classroom. When a teacher asks a question they often have to fish for answers and student participation. Once our students feel comfortable with us and in the classroom is when inquiry based learning really works. As teachers we have to be flexible. If the class is not completely comfortable with discussions maybe start off with projects, written assignments, or presentations. There are many different techniques to inquiry based learning, the main goal behind all of techniques is that you cultivate student curiosity and inspire them to be learners.