Inquiry-based science instruction hones critical thinking skills
- Rui Dionisio, superintendent of Verona Public Schools in New Jersey, discusses in District Administration how the inquiry-based science program his school district piloted is already showing a higher level of student engagement and has the goal of also improving knowledge of scientific processes.
- Research indicates that inquiry-based teaching — defined as “the formulation of a question that can be answered through investigation" — develops deeper critical thinking and problem-solving skills students will need for jobs on the horizon.
- Inquiry-based instruction differs from traditional, lecture-based instruction, which focuses on rote memorization of facts, by instead placing importance on the understanding of concepts at a deeper level through more hands-on experimentation.
Education should not be something that occurs only during the first few years of a person’s life. People who thrive in this world are those who are constantly willing to learn and for whom a spirit of inquiry has become second nature. People with a spirit of inquiry solve problems, innovate society and inspire others.
Unfortunately, some traditional educational practices, such as teacher-driven lectures and too much rote memorization, tend to kill that desire to explore and learn new things. Inquiry-based instruction can help foster and retain that innate sense of curiosity by engaging students in the process. This can begin as playful inquiry for elementary students and extend to the older years when students begin to understand the connection between inquiry and the research process.
Though subjects such as science, math and engineering best lend themselves to the hands-on exploration aspect of inquiry- based learning, the concept can be extended to other subjects as well. Students are most engaged in a subject when they see the relevance to their lives, and inquiry-based learning can be used to engage students by focusing on student-driven questions. Teachers can also use inquiry-based instruction as steps toward building critical thinking skills that are essential in all walks of life.
- District Administration A recipe for scientific literacy education