Recently, I was given the opportunity to try something I had never done before: podcasting. It was a fascinating experience; setting up my microphone, creating a script, and putting myself in the shoes of the host and speaking my mind. This experience all came about because of inquiry-based learning, which is a manner of learning that involves asking questions, performing research, and then communicating your findings with others. For example, I asked myself the question “how did the Roman Empire fall?”. This was something I often wondered, so I finally took it upon myself to research the events that caused this to occur. Once I felt that I had collected enough evidence to answer that question thoroughly, I discussed what I learned by making my own podcast. You can listen to my findings by clicking the video below.
I feel that inquiry-based learning fits well within the frame of a social studies course, as there are many questions that one could ask about specific historical events and eras that may be unknown to them. The process can be applied in the classroom as independent research and discussion, where students look up a question they have about history and discuss in a group what they find. This allows the students some control over their learning, so that they may look into a subject they find interesting and take control of process, effectively benefiting their research and questioning skills, which are both important within the field of social studies.
This learning method can be expanded into class projects as well, where students can ask a question about relatively broad topics and come up with a way to present their learning, which could be through a speech, a poster board, a podcast, a YouTube video, or really anything that shares their learning with others. The options are almost endless. Inquiry-based learning is also applicable to all the various facets of social studies. To give some examples, economics students could research the causes of a recession, civics students could learn the history of a law or an amendment, and geography students could explore how certain regions turn into deserts over a period of time.
Of course, sometimes students can struggle when given too many options, so there are other levels of inquiry. If a teacher wants to build students’ ability to collect and analyze data, they can use structured inquiry, where the questions and procedures are provided to the students, but they are in charge of doing the research. For those who have the research process down, but need more practice with deciding what types of research to make use of, guided inquiry exists for the teacher to give the question to their students, but also to let them decide how they will do research. Ultimately, inquiry-based learning is extremely effective at allowing students to take ownership of their learning and building up independence skills.
What do you think of inquiry-based learning? Is it effective, or do you think it’s lacking in any department? Have you applied it to your classroom? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading, and have a great day!