All this talk about Project-based Learning (PBL) got us thinking . . . Why pursue inquiry-based instruction if students might learn less content than when taught in a conventional way?
We contend that any content that students address is readily available with any internet search engine. Any and all content can be “Googled”, thus, it may not have the same urgency of mastery as the element of inquiry-based instruction that teaches the most relevant processing skills for the deep understanding needed for complex problem solving. While the content is often the focus of inspiration, igniting student motivation, and, as stated earlier, an explicit focus on the process skills of inquiry learning must also take center stage, because this model puts the responsibility for learning squarely on students’ shoulders. They must know how to generate, organize, analyze, infer, and draw conclusions well, if they are to become experts in the problem-based learning curriculum of 21st century learning and living.
The book Everyday Problem-based learning: Quick Projects to Build Problem Solving Fluency focuses on the everyday classroom application of inquiry-based learning and it provides a pathway for teachers to incorporate the essential elements of inquiry-based learning within the parameters of a single class period or an individual lesson.
First, a question for the reader: What is inquiry-based instruction? The term is used throughout the book to refer to any instruction that has the following elements: an essential or a driving question, open-ended solutions, and learning challenges that students encounter as they try to solve complex problems.
Traditional models of instruction assume that students must master content before applying what they’ve learned to solve a problem. Problem- based learning (PBL) reverses that order and assumes that students will master content while solving a meaningful problem. The problem to be solved should be engaging, and at the same time, it should address the curricular issues required by the curriculum.
The problem provides the purpose for learning the content, and the content becomes the vehicle that carries valued life skills. Both content and process are on equal ground as students learn such rigorous skills as thinking, organizing, collaborating, and communicating across various disciplinary areas.
Interested in learning more about Everyday Problem-based learning: Quick Projects to Build Problem Solving Fluency? Give it a go!