Unit 1: Understanding what Inquiry Based Learning Is

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Target Objective

Learners will be able to have an understanding of what inquiry based learning is and begin to investigate why it can be beneficial in your classroom

What is Inquiry?

Before we can start applying the concept of varying levels of inquiry to current teaching practices, there needs to be two things:

1) understanding of what inquiry based learning is
2) understanding that main components can vary in levels of construction by teacher and student


For each reading assignment in this unit, there are questions to reflect and record your thoughts about.
  1. Joseph Krajcik & Phyllis Blumenfeld. Project Based Learning
    1. File:ProjectBasedLearning.pdf
    2. please focus on pg 317-328
    3. I feel that in order to incorporate inquiry into your classroom, there is a sort of structure and key ingredients that need to be introduced. When we design a general lesson for our classroom, we have some key elements: an introduction (where we activate prior knowledge), a middle activity/short lecture (connecting new and old) , and finally, a wrap up and review at the end. Krajcik and Blumenfeld believe there are 5 key features that all project based learning (or inquiry) must have. Identifying and understanding what these 5 key features are will help you structure your inquiry based lab activities.
  1. Linn et al. Wise Design for Knowledge Integration
    1. File:WiseDesignforKnowledgeIntegration.pdf
    2. please focus on "Scaffolded Knowledge Integration Framework" on pg 524-533
    3. WISE is an online interactive inquiry based learning tool that teachers can use in their classroom. It is science based and incorporates using online tutorials along with lab participation in class. Each unit is based on a driving question. The WISE program, in creating projects, has developed 4 key principles that their curriculum is based on. You may view their website and projects by following this link: [1].

Overall Questions to Consider

  1. Both articles refer to inquiry by different names...Using what you know about inquiry, what qualifies these two methods as inquiry based learning?
  2. Linn et all and Krajcik & Blumenfeld both identify components that make up variations of inquiry based learning. What are the features they feel are necessary for inquiry to be successful? Also what kinds of similarities do you see between the two models?
  3. Krajcik & Blumenfeld identified 5 key features needed in order for project based learning to be effective. What similarities do you see with those features and your current teaching practices? Do you see an of those features in your current practices? Are there any lacking?


If you are still feeling a bit unclear about inquiry here you will find a short interview with an administrator from Calgary Science School explaining what inquiry learning is[2]]
After you have read the articles and worked through the 'questions to consider' discuss with other participants the following question:
  1. How do you feel that inquiry based learning can benefit your class and why? How does this promote life long learners?

Talk: Creating Life Long Learners discussion page

Science Inquiry is an additional resource to use throughout this unit and your investigation into inquiry based learning and it's benefits.


Krajcik, J., & Blumenfeld, P. (2006). Project-based learning. In K. Sawyer (Eds.), Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (pp. 317 - 334). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Linn, M.C., Clark, D.B. & Slotta, J.D. (2003). WISE design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87, 17-538.
Inquiry Based Learning." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwNc3W3kiCM
WISE (Web based inquiry science environment) http://wise.berkeley.edu/

Varying the Level of Inquiry in Science Lab Activities

Unit 2: Identifying the Components of Inquiry in laboratory activities

Unit 3: Designing an Inquiry Based Lab with varying levels of inquiry

Unit 4: Reflection and Evaluation