Inquiry-Based Learning

What is Inquiry-Based Learning ?

Please note that we are considering IBL in a broader sense, including problem-based learning, student-centered teaching, active learning, ambitious teaching, discovery learning, and inquiry-oriented learning. Our "Inquire" page documents some word clouds generated by conference participants that captures some of their ideas about teaching and learning with inquiry.

"Four Pillars" Of IBL

"Twin Pillars:" In this "Math Ed Matters" blog, Dana Ernst reflects on the "Twin Pillars" identified by Sandra Laursen and her colleagues in a study that may explain the positive student outcomes they observed. Since then, they have been extended to the following "Four Pillars:"

  • Student Inquiry: Students engage deeply with coherent and meaningful mathematical tasks.
  • Collaboration: Students collaboratively process mathematical ideas.
  • Instructor Inquiry: Instructors inquire into student thinking.
  • Equity: Instructors foster equity in their design and facilitation choices.

Some characteristics of IBL: In their study Sandra Laursen and her colleagues identify IBL in post-secondary education with classroom practices that have the following characteristics:

  • The main work of the course, both within and outside of class, is problem solving.
  • The majority of class time is spent on student-centered activities.
  • The course is driven by a carefully built sequence of investigations that guide rediscovery.
  • The teacher’s role is decentralized, acting as a coach instead of a knowledge dispenser.
  • Students are empowered by playing active roles - determining how class time is spent, initiating communication, and taking responsibility for learning.
  • Students use reflection as well as active communication, both verbal and written, to assimilate new modes of thought, new learning strategies, and new mathematical schema.

At the 2018 NE-IBLM conference, participants created to the following word clouds to identify shared features of inquiry.

What are your main tenets of IBL? What are your goals for your students?

What does IBL look like in your classroom?

What are the affordances/benefits of IBL that you have found?