Inquiry-based learning

A SWOT graphic organiser (like the one below) can be used as an analysis tool. Use your knowledge of inquiry-based learning to identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of this approach.

Strengths: Students develop as critical thinkers rather than sponges that gain information the way it is presented to them. Kath Murdoch believes inquiry-based learning can lead to self-assessing in the early years and is then second nature by high school.

Inquiry-based learning aligns itself well with constructivism — children are active observers and build their own understanding of the world through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences.

It also encourages class community while building the individual’s sense of belonging and confidence and does not discriminate.

Weaknesses: Students can fail to understand that learning can sometimes be hard work. If introduced too early, students don’t have the sufficient content to go further and so the connections aren’t made. Students can be left behind (explaining the effect size of .31).

Opportunitites: Student engagement is high because they are actively thinking and working to get results or to solve a problem, so opportunity for authentic learning is raised.

The Going Further stage of a group inquiry is when students can work independently to follow individual or small group pathways. Year 3/4 teacher at St Monica’s Wodonga finds that “classroom management is generally not an issue by this stage as most students are able to connect to some aspect or Key Understanding and go further with an action, presentation etc.”

Threats: Constraints with time, curriculum, students’ abilities and classroom structure.


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