October 20, 2021
Among several learning styles Inquiry based learning, IBL to help kids to acquire scientific process skills. IBL differentiates the instruction method of learning where it does help students to build on 21st century skills to look for employment. However, IBL has activities such as observation & experimentation to gain scientific knowledge.
Few seasoned educators share their views on the need and implementation of IBL in classrooms.
Do kids need inquiry-based learning?
When engaging in inquiry, kids learn to describe things like events or objects. Sharana Saxena Dy. Principal Primary of JBCN International School Mumbai said, “Curiosity and questioning are inherent traits of humans. It’s an organic process that will instil love for learning, ownership and skills of the future.”
An educator & principal of Diya Learning Academy a school based out of KR Puram Bengaluru, Mrs. Veena Anil believes that students become better to the knowledge if approaches such as inquiry-based pedagogy is used irrespective of their age.
B. Gayathri, a principal of Sri Sri Ravishankar Vidya Mandir of Bengaluru South reiterates the need and student’s role in the learning process. A process from ‘telling’ to ‘doing’ is what makes IBL interesting for students.
K. Geetha Lakshmi a Principal of The Prodigies International School, Varthur Bengaluru sees that IBL makes an exciting for kids as students get an opportunity to share their thoughts and refine ideas, that is also a call out in NEP 2020.
A founder director of Geetanjali Olympiad School Bengaluru, Dr. G. Srisharam sees IBL as a way to put 21st century skills such as creative thinking in a child’s life. It is also an opportunity for students-teachers holistic development.
How do classrooms support inquiry-based learning?
IBL supports asking questions, constructing explanations and testing those explanations to the existing scientific knowledge. B. Gayathri said, “Educators understand that rote learning isn’t effective hence learning processes like Inquiry Based makes it exciting for students allowing naturally build skills like communication, critical thinking making a difference in academic and personal growth. In order to achieve this, Mrs. Veena Anil emphasized on planning classroom experiences to support IBL. A teacher who would play a role of facilitator needs to keep all subjects in mind whereas a subject teacher can guide students pertaining to knowledge to keep check at assumptions.
K. Geetha Lakshmi believes it’s a shared responsibility of teacher and students. Skills like collaboration and presentation skills are nurtured in IBL.
Dr. G. Srisharam sees IBL process brings positive improvements in classrooms and school education process. This would also mean teachers get trained regularly from respective boards and in house training for effective implementation. Sharana Saxena believes that a stimulating ecosystem can be developed if there are enough resources which are beyond prescribed text books as the learning involves exploration. Initially, it’s the facilitator’s responsibility of getting the inquiry ball rolling to think, curiosity, observation, question and solve problems. A culture of flexible seating, collaboration and non-judgemental is a way for deeper learning and great outcomes.
From which grades should we emphasize Inquiry-based learning?
IBL doesn’t adhere to a linear process however there is a process in itself like orienting and asking questions through narratives. From narratives ideas emerge and a hypothesis is generated based on previous experiences or based on the questions. This would lead to planning an investigation to analysis & conclusion. Are pre-primary kids too young to carry such tasks?
Sharana Saxena opines, The myth around inquiry-based learning being unstructured needs to be dispelled as there are various ways by which inquiry can be incorporated in class as per age-appropriateness. Beginning with simple confirmation inquiry to be structured, gradually escalating into guided and finally into open inquiry, it is a skill that can be honed over the years as per the readiness acquired. Whether we acknowledge it or not, every time we give a toy, show a picture to a child, his/her inherent nature is pre-disposed towards inquiry-based learning. So, it is never too early to incorporate inquiry-based learning into classrooms.
Mrs. Veena Anil opines IBL implementation could start from pre-primary as kids have natural curiosity of inquiry. The realm lies in the facilitator and subject teachers.
B. Gayathri points to a research published by the British Council where kids before moving to grade school ask more than 300 questions a day on average to emphasize the inquiry based learning is natural in kids.
Kindergarten marks the start of kids’ academics hence IBL could begin from then onwards, opines K. Geetha Lakshmi & Dr. G. Srisharam
How does the teacher facilitate the learning?
With the emphasis on learning not on scores, Mrs. Veena Anil believes the teacher role is vital. A teacher needs to create relevant questions to engage students in cooperative interaction and activities. This needs to be evaluated keeping the individual differences in mind to reach outcomes. Hence careful planning and identifying resources are vital to aid the overall experiences of IBL. “Reflection on the purpose” is a checkpoint to align and achieve outcomes in IBL, said B.Gayathri. Real time scenarios and examples by facilitators could strengthen the purpose, said Dr. G. Srisharam
Sharana Saxena emphasizes that teaching is not always equal to learning. IBL is a way for facilitators to understand that individuals create their own meaning of their experience. This would mean that facilitators move from the conventional role and provide equal opportunity to be heard and understood.
K. Geetha Lakshmi suggests some ways to facilitate IBL – Ask, Investigate, Create reports, Discuss & Reflect.
Santosh Avvannavar, Education Journalist at QtSTEAM & Mentor at QtPi Robotics