Oh, it’s that time again! Today we’re going to talk about something that might pique your interest: Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL).

Inquiry-Based Learning is all about inspiring curiosity and exploration in students! It’s like a treasure hunt for knowledge. Let’s dive into the good stuff.

So, what is Inquiry-Based Learning? At its core, it’s a teaching method that empowers students to learn by asking questions, observing, and investigating. It encourages students to take the lead in their own learning.

The concept of IBL has been around since the days of philosophers like Socrates. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that it gained popularity with the likes of famous educators like John Dewey. It’s been growing in popularity ever since.

Why is it important? Well, with the world constantly changing, we need to equip students with skills that will help them thrive. Inquiry-Based Learning does this by developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, promoting collaboration and communication, and teaching 21st-century skills.

So, buckle up and get ready for a journey into the world of Inquiry-Based Learning!

What is Inquiry-Based Learning?

So, what is Inquiry-Based Learning? It’s simply a teaching method that focuses on encouraging the students’ curiosity and exploration. In this approach, the students learn by asking questions, investigating and experimenting, rather than just memorising facts.

The Basic Principles are pretty simple. First, the learning process should be directed by the student’s questions, not just the teacher’s agenda. Second, it should be authentic and centred around real-world problems or situations. Lastly, it should involve the application of skills, knowledge, and concepts rather than just repeating what they’ve learned.

There are two types of Inquiry in this approach, Structured Inquiry, and Open Inquiry. In the Structured Inquiry, the teacher designs the experiment or investigation, while in the Open Inquiry, students can design their own experiment or investigation.

This approach suits every learning level and subject, allowing students to take control of their learning experience while developing their critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills. Now that we know the basics, let’s dive into how Inquiry-Based Learning empowers students.

How Does Inquiry-Based Learning Empower Students?

How Does Inquiry-Based Learning Empower Students?

Ah, the million-dollar question. How does inquiry-based learning actually benefit students? Well, to put it simply, it empowers them! How so, you ask? Let’s break it down.

Firstly, inquiry-based learning encourages curiosity. No more students sitting idly by while the teacher lectures. Instead, students are encouraged to ask questions, explore topics, and become active learners.

Secondly, it promotes exploration. Students are given the chance to delve deeper into subjects that interest them, allowing them to learn in a way that is meaningful and enjoyable.

But that’s not all! Inquiry-based learning also facilitates the learning of 21st-century skills. In today’s rapidly changing world, it’s essential for students to develop skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication. And that’s exactly what inquiry-based learning does!

Speaking of critical thinking and problem-solving, inquiry-based learning also develops these important skills in students. By asking questions, exploring topics, and working independently, students learn how to think creatively and solve problems in unique ways.

And last but certainly not least, inquiry-based learning promotes collaboration and communication. By working in groups, sharing ideas, and expressing opinions, students learn how to communicate effectively and work as part of a team — skills that are essential in nearly every aspect of life.

So, there you have it. Inquiry-based learning empowers students by encouraging curiosity, promoting exploration, facilitating the learning of 21st-century skills, developing critical thinking and problem-solving, and promoting collaboration and communication. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!

The Inquiry-Based Learning Process

Ahoy there, fellow edu-enthusiasts! If you’ve been following along with this blog, you know by now that Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) is the way to go if we want to empower students to become curious and self-driven learners. But, how does IBL actually work in practice? Let’s have a look-see, shall we?

First things first, the teacher’s role in IBL is less ‘sage on the stage’ and more ‘guide on the side.’ They act as facilitators, providing support and resources, while allowing the students to take the lead and explore their own learning paths. This approach encourages student autonomy and creativity, as they’re given the freedom to pursue topics that interest them.

As for the student’s role, they are active participants in the learning process, rather than passive recipients of knowledge. They’re encouraged to ask questions, conduct research, and make connections between different concepts, both individually and within a group setting.

So, what are the steps of the IBL process, you ask? Well, it starts with a question. This could be an open-ended question, a problem to solve, or a real-world scenario to investigate. The next step is research. Students gather information from a variety of sources, analyse it, and make connections.

After research comes analysis and interpretation. This is where the students take all of that information they’ve gathered and use their critical thinking skills to make sense of it all. Then comes application. Students use what they’ve learned to apply their new understanding to real-world situations. Finally, there is reflection. Students reflect on their learning journey, the discoveries they’ve made, and the skills they’ve developed.

Overall, the Inquiry-Based Learning process is a cyclical one that encourages deep learning, creativity, and critical thinking. It takes a bit of adjustment for both teachers and students, but once everyone gets the hang of it, the sky’s the limit in terms of what can be accomplished. So get curious, get exploring, and watch as IBL works its magic!

Examples of Inquiry-Based Learning in Action

Okay, let’s dive into the exciting world of Inquiry-Based Learning! We’ve talked about the principles and benefits of this method of teaching, but what does it look like in action?

Here is an example:

Inquiry-Based Learning Design

🚀 Preview this lesson with LAMS

Understanding Cellular Respiration through Inquiry-Based Learning

Subject: Biology


Students will be able to develop an understanding of cellular respiration and its significance in living organisms through an inquiry-based learning activity.


  • Access to scientific articles, videos, and diagrams related to cellular respiration (see initial video in the Shared Resources activity.)


I. Introduction (10 minutes)

  • The instructor will introduce the topic of cellular respiration and its significance in living organisms.
  • The instructor will pose the guiding question for the inquiry-based learning activity: “How does cellular respiration occur in living organisms?”

II. Inquiry Process (30 minutes)

  • Students will work in small groups to explore the topic of cellular respiration using the provided resources.
  • Students will take notes on their findings and develop their understanding of cellular respiration.

III. Research and Analysis (30 minutes)

  • Students will conduct further research and analysis on cellular respiration to answer the guiding question.
  • Students will compare and contrast the different types of cellular respiration (aerobic and anaerobic) and their significance in different organisms.

IV. Group Discussion (30 minutes)

  • The class will reconvene for a group discussion where students can share their findings and insights.
  • The instructor will provide discussion prompts to facilitate the conversation.

V. Reflection — (20 minutes)

  • Students individually will reflect on the inquiry process and what they have learned about cellular respiration.
  • Students will write a brief reflection or participate in a class discussion to share their thoughts.

For a step by step run of the learning design or to download it and adapt it to your own teaching, take a look at this card:

As you can see, the IBL process promotes critical thinking and analytical skills while also honing their communication abilities as students have to break out into discussion groups to analyse the resources they have researched.

This helps them build empathy and better understand the nuances of language.

By placing curiosity and exploration at the centre of the learning experience, teachers can help students develop not just a deep understanding of the material, but also a love of learning itself. So if you’re a teacher or a student, why not embrace Inquiry-Based Learning? Who knows where your curiosity might take you!

Challenges and Criticisms of Inquiry-Based Learning

While Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) has many benefits, it’s not without its challenges and criticisms. One major criticism of IBL is the lack of structure it provides. Some argue that with no clear guidelines, it’s difficult for students to know where to begin or how to proceed. Additionally, assessment difficulties arise as it can be hard to quantify learning in this format.

Another issue is that IBL may not fit into traditional schedules due to time constraints. And of course, some teachers may experience resistance to change, preferring the more traditional teaching methods they’re familiar with.


Well, that’s all folks! Now, you’re all set to acquaint yourself with the basics of inquiry-based learning. As you journey through this blog, you’ve gained a better understanding of its definition, importance, advantages, the basic principles and types, the inquiry-based learning process, as well as its practical applications in different fields such as education. But it is not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to adopting this approach. Among the challenges are lack of structure, assessment difficulties, and resistance to change. Through it all, we hope you’re now able to appreciate the significance of inquiry-based learning and how it constantly strives to empower students through curiosity and exploration.



Chelsea Bullock

I’m a Communication Manager and Outreach Officer at LAMS (Learning Designer App).