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Adult Learner > Strategies > Inquiry-based Learning

Inquiry-based Learning


Inquiry-based learning is centered around open-ended questions posed by instructors and/or the learners themselves and fosters a Learner Mindset. During inquiry-based learning, instructors can foster learner autonomy by designing learning experiences centered on meaningful questions in which students locate, analyze, and present relevant information on their own or in small groups. Instructors model and incorporate content texts during the inquiry process to help learners explore learning targets and goals. This type of instructional approach supports and encourages Self-regulation and allows learners to adapt their learning plans according to their needs and interests. Motivation may also increase as learners feel the implications of their autonomy in the learning environment.

Use It In Your Learning Environment

Throughout inquiry-based learning, instructors play a crucial role by providing scaffolds and models for learners to follow as they navigate texts to illuminate the central question. This will also limit learner frustration throughout the inquiry process as they come to understand the process and necessary actions through modeling. Instructor presence is important for further questions during the process to promote critical thinking, Problem Solving, and stimulate the question generation process. Four types of inquiry are often utilized for instruction: confirmation inquiry, structured inquiry, guided inquiry, and open inquiry.

Product developers can enrich online platforms for instructors by creating forums in which instructors can create a map for inquiry. This map can include suggested activities and actions to help instructors further scaffold the inquiry experience. Developers can also provide the capability for instructors to embed questions within texts and allow learners to ask their own questions of each other and the larger community.