Indiana University Bloomington School of Education

Inquiry-Based Learning

What do you mean by inquiry-based learning?

Inquiry-based learning is an instructional model that centers learning on addressing a particular problem or answering a central question. There are several different inquiry-based learning models, but most have several general elements in common:

  • Learning focuses around a meaningful, ill-structured problem that demands consideration of diverse perspectives
  • Academic content-learning occurs as a natural part of the process as students work towards finding solutions
  • Learners, working collaboratively, assume an active role in the learning process
  • Teachers provide learners with learning supports and rich multiple media sources of information to assist students in successfully finding solutions
  • Learners share and defend solutions publicly in some manner

More detailed information about effective problem-based learning environments is included in the table below:

Criteria for Effective Inquiry Based Learning Environments

In this model of instruction technology can be used in a variety of ways to support student learning. While technology use is not limited to this, inquiry-based learning activities often require students to use technology in meaningful and authentic ways:

  • Conduct research and gather information
  • Communicate with experts outside the classroom
  • Prepare documents, reports, and presentations

Inquiry-based learning activities can be implemented in any subject or grade-level. Read this article for more in-depth information about technology-enhanced inquiry-based learning as it relates to history instruction.