Learning through inquiry: a collective way of responding to individual needs

Inquiry-based learning stimulates collaboration and curiosity while developing the ability to ask precise questions. Discover this model implemented in particular in Ontario schools.

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Inquiry-based learning stimulates collaboration and curiosity while developing the ability to ask precise questions. Discover this model implemented in particular in Ontario schools.

On the occasion of the Fall Congress on Conscious Entrepreneurial Education, Élaine Lucas, educational advisor at the CSDCEO and member of the TacTIC team of the CFORP (a team whose mandate is similar to that of our RÉCIT), presented the model of inquiry-based learning (inquiry based learning), very developed in Ontario, particularly in English-speaking schools.

The inquiry learning process was first introduced into the social studies curriculum in Ontario. In short, it is about creating learning situations that raise questions in the students:

  1. The student wonders about a trigger
  2. It collects information
  3. It validates the information
  4. It analyzes and interprets this information
  5. He communicates and diffuses everything

In inquiry-based learning, the subject succeeds more easily in engaging the student since he or she directs their path. Ms. Lucas observed that the whole thing also leads to a lot of collaboration and mutual aid between the students, in addition to stimulating their curiosity and developing their ability to ask precise and open-ended questions. In addition, with experience, the teacher quickly realizes that the work by inquiry makes it easy to go beyond the sole subject of the social universe and to integrate French, science, math, etc.

The teacher becomes a co-learner

In this approach, the role of the teacher changes. The latter must adopt a posture of "co-learner" and guide the students in the process.

Evidence of learning can be gathered in different ways. For example, the “circle of knowledge” is a stage of pooling that allows students to share their discoveries and make connections with what others have learned in order to go even further. Students can also record their progress in a table according to the columns “What I think I know”, “Confirmed idea” or “False perception”, “New knowledge confirmed”, “I still wonder…”. In Elaine Lucas' school, since inquiry learning was prevalent in most classes, a " Pineapple Chart », That is to say a table posted in the school which indicated where each class was at so that they could visit each other and inspire each other.

Also, the link with the community becomes essential. The walls of the classroom are open to other classes, other schools, and even internationally. The triggers sometimes come from experts from the community, who then constitute learning resources in the same way as a dictionary would be. Digital technology also facilitates virtual meetings when a physical presence is not possible.

Should we completely stop the masterful?

“Never completely! », Replied Ms. Lucas directly. Of course, the approach taints the majority of the activities of the class and many learning contents are integrated into the projects, but there is still a part that remains taught in a more traditional way.

A natural link with entrepreneurial pedagogy

Ultimately, Ms. Lucas believes that the approach facilitates the management of student behavior since they all participate and are engaged. For her, it is a “way of responding collectively to the individual needs of students” which fits in particularly well with entrepreneurial pedagogy. Authentic tasks are also at the heart of the approach.

Examples of topics:

  • Municipal book box (Take a book, leave a book)
  • Community garden at school
  • Animal therapy (hatchery and hatching of chicks, for example)
  • Entrepreneurial fair

She wants the approach to spread more widely in secondary school directly by the students who will have experienced it since kindergarten.

How do you bring about a process of inquiry?

  • From an image or video
  • With expert testimony
  • Thanks to a "provocation table" (filled with mysterious objects related to the learning object)
  • Starting from children's literature

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About the Author

Audrey Miller
Audrey Miller
General manager of École branchée, Audrey holds a graduate degree in educational technologies and a bachelor's degree in public communication. Member of the Order of Excellence in Education of Quebec, she is particularly interested in the professional development of teachers, information in the digital age and media education, while actively creating bridges between the actors of the educational ecosystem since 1999. She is involved these days in particular in Edteq Association and as a member of the ACELF Communications Committee. When she has free time, she is passionate about her children, his rabbits, horses, good wine and... Web programming!

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