1. Better understanding. It’s the old adage: “Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.” But inquiry-based learning isn’t just that simple. It’s about integrating content and process to give students a richer experience and deeper understanding. It’s the difference between giving students tasks to complete and asking them to authentically create and cultivate projects relevant to their own interests. 2. Problem-solving development. One of the biggest things we pride ourselves on with the Biology Rocks curriculum is that our students can develop their own questions to ask and then figure out (mostly on their own) how to solve the problem. The ability to create and solve problems in the lab extends beyond your science classroom. According to an article from the George Lucas Education Foundation, students who were able to solve problem-based learning concepts in the classroom were also often able to apply those reasoning and problem-solving skills in real-life. 3. Real-world teamwork. It’s not unusual for students to complete classwork in groups. With inquiry-based learning, teams aren’t just following directions on a project, they’re truly collaborating to solve a problem. This format more accurately represents a real-world approach to projects in most industries, where all members of a group come up with ideas and work together to solve a problem.
4. Challenge all around. During our professional development sessions, you’ll hear Authors Shannon Ralph and Michael Ralph say it over and over again: Inquiry development is challenging. It takes time for teachers to develop lessons and it’s uncomfortable at first for students to adjust to a unstructured learning environment. That kind of “outside the box” thinking is just what many students need, and it’s what keeps them interested. Chris Lehman founded the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, Pa. and he’s right when he says that “Inquiry means living in the uncomfortable space where we don’t know the answer.” It’s not so hard that you and your students can’t do it, but everyone has to be willing to venture in to that uncomfortable space a little bit at a time. 5. Fun with science! There is a major difference between a classroom excited to learn about science and one that’s well… not. If there’s one reason to introduce inquiry-based learning in your classroom this year, this is it! Once students have learned to think about assignments beyond their normal constraints, they’ll begin to apply aspects of their lives (and what’s important to them) to their work. When students are truly interested in their work, they’ll be invested, and enjoy it!