20 January 2015



Enquiry/Empirical Evidence

Inquiry based learning is mainly involving the learner and leading him to understand. Inquiry here implies on the possessing skills and attitude of yours, which allows you to ask questions about new resolutions and issues while you are gaining new information. 
Dictionary meaning of Inquiry is seeking knowledge, information, or truth through questioning. All the people carry on with this process throughout their life, even if you might find it not very much reflecting. For example, infants use inquiry to build their sense of the world, the babies turn towards voices, put things in their mouths, grasp things, and observe faces that come near. The inquiry process is mainly the gathering of data and information and applying them to senses like smelling, tasting, touching, hearing and seeing. 

Very sadly, our traditional ways of teaching discourage the process of inquiry. It makes the student get less prone to asking questions as they move through their grade levels, they are just expected to listen and repeat the expected answers. This is due to the lack of understanding of inquiry based learning. Inquiry based learning is not just asking questions, but it is a way of converting data and information into useful knowledge. A useful application of inquiry based learning involves many different factors, which are, a different level of questions, a focus for questions, a framework for questions, and a context for questions. 

Much mesmerizing information and facts are readily available, which needs an understanding of how to make sense out of it and turn it into useful knowledge. The teachers must be able to analyze that he or she does into only have to accumulate information and data but also have to generate it into useful knowledge, which can be easily done through inquiry based learning. Our country's success depending upon natural resources is the past; the future of our country's success now depends upon the workforce which works smarter. 

Inquiry based learning can be applied on all disciplines which has been confirmed through different researches. Learners have different perspectives of viewing the world like economic, historic, scientific, artistic, etc. The disciplines can be interrelated through inquiry based learning, which ensures the integrity of different disciplines and the world views about them. 

What is Inquiry-Based Teaching?

Inquiry-based teaching is a teaching method that combines the curiosity of students and the scientific method to enhance the development of critical thinking skills while learning science. As learners encounter problems they do not understand, they formulate questions, explore problems, observe, and apply new information in seeking a better understanding of the world. The natural process the learners follow when seeking answers and deeper understanding closely follows the generally accepted scientific method. Often, the answers proposed by learners lead to even more questions—much like the outcomes of research.

Students engage in five activities when they engage in inquiry learning and use the scientific method, as noted in the National Science Education Standards published by the National Academy of Sciences. Although these tasks occur in a logical progression, inquiry is a fluid process, and one task may lead back to a previous task. This process is illustrated in given picture.
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According to the National Academy of Sciences (1995), when students learn through inquiry, they:
  1. question;
  2. investigate;
  3. use evidence to describe, explain, and predict;
  4. connect evidence to knowledge; and
  5. share findings.
Each of these factors can be found in the following example.
Example 1


Step 1: Question
Students in an introductory agricultural education course notice that one of the two plants the class planted on the same day and placed in different parts of the classroom is bigger than the other. This observation may cause the students to ask, “What is making Plant A grow faster than Plant B?”

Step 2: Investigate

Students know plants need water to grow. They know the plants receive the same amount of water because they are responsible for watering the plants and give the same amount of water to each plant. Since the students know the water is the same for each plant, they decide there must be another explanation for the difference in plant growth. The students research plant growth and find light and temperature are also important factors. The students decide to monitor the temperature in each location to see if a temperature difference exists. For one week, the students take the temperature next to each plant in the morning and the afternoon.

Step 3: Use Evidence to Describe, Explain, and Predict

At the end of the week, the students review all of the data collected and determine the temperature is the same in both locations. Their findings eliminate temperature as the cause of Plant A growing faster than Plant B. The learners predict that light is the cause of the difference in plant growth, so they decide to monitor the amount of light the plants are receiving.

Step 2: Investigate
The students decide to count the hours of sunlight each plant receives in one day. Every hour, the students check each plant and mark if the plant is in the sun or not.

Step 3: Use Evidence to Describe, Explain, and Predict
At the conclusion of the experiment, the students find Plant A receives four hours more sunlight than Plant B. They can conclude light affected the different growth rates of the two plants.

Step 4: Connecting Evidence to Knowledge
As a result of their experiment, the students note that water, temperature, and light affect plant growth. They realize a difference in one of these factors can cause a noticeable difference in plant growth.

Step 5: Sharing Findings
Since the students did such a good job finding the answer to their question, the teacher asks them to share their work during a parent showcase night. The students explain each aspect of their experiment process and discuss the findings and conclusions.

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