Mackenzie, T. & Bathurst-Hunt, R. (March 1, 2018). How to ease students into independent inquiry projects. Mindshift. KQED. Retrieved from: https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/50620
This article and its accompanying chart describe the spectrum along which inquiry-based education can occur, from structured, to controlled, to guided and, finally, to free inquiry. In structured inquiry the educator leads the one inquiry from start to finish. In controlled inquiry, the teacher provides the questions asked, the resources and assigns the project, deliverable or assessment. In guided inquiry, the educator assigns the subject and asks the essential question, but the students have more freedom and autonomy to choose resources and design projects. Free inquiry completes the spectrum, where student initiate the inquiry, choose their own topics, select resources and design their own projects or performance tasks.
As a term and a concept, inquiry is often thrown around with little explanation of what it is or how it works. As a relatively new public school educator, inquiry-based learning has often seemed to me to be a lofty constructivist ideal without much place in real-world classrooms. At least part of the reason for this is that there’s very little training in how to implement inquiry-based learning experiences. This article provides a very useful framework for where to begin, depending on teacher interest and ability, as well as student readiness.