FLoW21 Explained: Target 4


Target 4: Inquiry-driven Learning

Inquiry-based learning is an approach that involves starting with a question, problem, or scenario and then allowing learners to investigate and find an answer. It's about teaching problem-solving skills rather than distributing knowledge.

An easy-to-understand and simplified example of an inquiry-based approach could be a teacher starting a unit or lesson by asking, "How can you discover the area of a triangle?" versus a teacher telling students the equation for determining the area of a triangle and offering practice problems. Facilitated by a teacher, a student may use a variety of tools and resources to research and experiment with different methods of solving the problem, uncovering patterns that eventually lead them to the correct formula.

This is a required strategy within the International Baccalaureate framework. There are four recognized levels of inquiry-based learning, which range from highly structured to entirely student-driven. As a student progresses through these levels, they gain more independence.

So let's take a look at what this means for each stakeholder within the school community:


For students, this means researching, exploring, and experimenting to develop deeper understanding of a subject or concept with increasing levels of independence. They are engaged in their own active learning.

For teachers, this approach means functioning as a facilitator rather than providing answers. Teachers may not be at the front of a class lecturing, but instead they will pose a question to the class then teach strategies and provide tools to solve a problem.

An inquiry-based approach also allows parents to support their child(ren)'s learning. Parents do not need to have knowledge about a specific subject or topic, but rather be prepared to ask the right questions to support their child's exploration or investigation of an issue. Questions may include:

  • What tools might you need to find this answer?
  • Where could you go or who could you interview to learn more about this topic?
  • Are there any similar examples you could learn from to help you solve this problem?

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