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Inquiry Process

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Learning is the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study and experience. It involves learning about the natural or material world through various approaches. The traditional classroom approach at times leaves students unengaged and uninterested. As a result, the learning process isn’t as effective as desired.

Inquiry is an approach to learning that involves asking questions, discovering things and testing those discoveries in the search for new understanding. It emphasizes a student-centric approach in the learning process. They are encouraged to ask questions based on their learning on a more personal level.

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Inquiry based learning followed in classrooms

Inquiry based learning

Inquiry-based learning uses different approaches to learning to maximize the involvement of students. These include small group discussions and guided learning. Instead of rote learning, it encourages ‘learning by doing’ and allows students to build upon their knowledge through exploration, experience and discussion. The five Es of inquiry based learning –


As against a method where the teacher is explaining and the students are merely hearing or writing, inquiry method ensures first-hand experiences by students which automatically adds depth to the learning process. This makes it easier for them to remember things as they make their own connections with the topic.

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Generates curiosity – When a child is involved in the learning process, he asks questions, shares his ideas and this encourages him to learn better. This fosters curiosity and interest in the child for the topic he is exploring.

Developing other skills simultaneously – Inquiry process builds critical thinking, problem solving and improves a child’s communication skills. He is more confident and fearless, and develops a constructive approach to his learning.

Deepens the understanding of topics – Since the child is drawn into the subject, his learning is more meaningful and gives them a deeper understanding of the topic.

Better and long term retention – Sharing facts, conversations and such other elaborations enhance the retrieval of information on a later date. A deeper understanding through such activities naturally ensures better retention of the content. Besides, as per research, we retain 75% of what we do compared to 5% of what we hear and 10% of what we read.

Love of learning – As the students are deeply involved in the learning process, it generates passion in them to learn the subject better. Since they feel responsible for their own learning, they get more involved, strive better and invariably fall in love with it while learning it. In a way, it becomes a way to his discovering the knowledge.

Enhances the overall learning process – The activities, experiments and discussions make the overall learning process more fun as well as effective. Students learn without the burden of memorizing and at the same time learn better.

Disadvantages of this process

Poorer standardized testing performance – Inquiry process can become a real issue if too much time is dedicated to students’ queries resulting in deviation from the core topic. This in turn affects standardized testing performance.

Student embarrassment – In case a child fails to contribute or think quickly during a discussion, it may affect his confidence leading him to go into a shell instead of participating in future discussions.

Teacher unpreparedness – In case the discussion doesn’t go as per the plan, it may lead to chaos and the classroom atmosphere may suffer as a whole.

The ideal ways of learning should include meaningful engagement of children. The teacher should be there to supervise and guide them at each and every step of the way. In a heterogeneous class, this works best to bridge the gaps among the children in the most subtle way. Such an arrangement is conducive to a relaxed atmosphere ensuring an effective teaching-learning process.

Check point

  1. Which of the following is a part of the inquiry process?
  2. Asking questions
  3. Experimenting and testing
  4. Discovering things
  5. All the above


  1. Which of the following is not an advantage of the inquiry process?
  2. Generates curiosity
  3. Too time consuming
  4. Better retention
  5. Deepens a child’s understanding


  1. What other skills does a child develop during the inquiry learning process? Name any three.
  2. An inquiry process of learning discourages _______ learning.
  3. One of the activities that is a part of the inquiry learning process is _________.

Answer Key

  1. D
  2. B
  3. Critical thinking, problem solving, communication skills
  4. Rote
  5. Conversations/ group discussions/ sharing facts

Picture Credits

  1. https://knowledgequest.aasl.org/the-5-es-of-inquiry-based-learning/
  2. https://www.redbricks-school.org/WhatWeDo-Teaching-Methods.html
  3. https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/partnering-with-childs-school/instructional-strategies/6-strategies-teachers-use-to-help-kids-with-learning-and-thinking-differences
  4. https://www.toastmasters74.org/articles/on-a-point-posts/leadership-opportunities-learning-by-doing/

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