Inquiry Learning

Chandler Park aims to develop student skills and understandings of the Australian Curriculum using an Inquiry approach. Learning, using the inquiry approach involves students forming their own questions about a topic and having time to explore the answers. The students are both problem posers and problem solvers within Inquiry Learning. Inquiry Learning encourages learners to examine the complexity of the world and form concepts and generalizations instead of being told simple answers to complex problems. The focus is on ‘how we know’ rather than ‘what we know’, with students actively involved in the construction of their own knowledge.

The inquiry approach to learning is based on the belief that students are powerful learners who must be actively engaged in the process of investigating, processing, organising, synthesising, refining and extending their knowledge within a topic. In other words this process is highly influenced by the theory of constructivism.

The inquiry process involves:

  • planned, direct and vicarious experiences that provide opportunities for students to pose questions and gather information.
  • activities that help students organise new information and use skills in a way that assist them to form concepts and generalizations about their world
  • opportunities for students to demonstrate what they have learnt
  • applying the knowledge, skills and values to other contexts.

The process in a nutshell includes

  • A problem or question
  • An hypothesis
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Drawing conclusions
  • Making generalisations and reflecting
  • Authentic action

The inquiry process has the potential to develop skills and dispositions for lifelong learning, for example, independence, thinking skills, confidence, decision making, cooperative learning and other life skills. Using this approach we can integrate different subject areas, information technology and global issues.

Our aim is to place the student as a central player in the decision making process, so the pace, content and skill development can better match the needs of the learner. Because the approach makes learning relevant and purposeful, ownership and responsibility for the learning process is intrinsic, impacting on enjoyment and on-task behaviour.

While there are different starting points for inquiries, for example, topical, global or community issue, interest or play based, inquiries generally have the following characteristics.

They:

  • are student centred and directed
  • emphasise process and skill development
  • require students to ask questions
  • are conceptual based rather than factual
  • involve some negotiation with students
  • encourage learner interaction
  • build upon prior knowledge
  • utilise and consider students interests
  • include direct experiences
  • integrate reflection and metacognition
  • involve the application of ideas
  • explore affective aspects of learning
  • raise different perspectives and tackle values

Reference: Adapted from Focus on Inquiry (2003) Jeni Wilson and Lesley Wing

Jan and Invitation and Inspirations Moss et al. Curriculum Corporation, Victoria.

Jeni Wilson and Kath Murdoch