What is Inquiry?

The spirit of Inquiry, as the leading pedagogical approach of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) recognizes students as being actively involved in their own learning and as taking responsibility for that learning. PYP learning is approached with a spirit of inquiry. Drawing from the transdisciplinary themes and students’ interests, inquiry is an authentic way for students to relate to, explore and understand the world around them.

A large body of research, supported by experiences of teachers worldwide, has informed the IB in committing to purposeful concept-based inquiry that engages students actively in their own learning (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, Caspari 2015), (Bonnstetter 1998). The IB believes that this is the way in which students learn best.

As part of the learner profile, students are supported in becoming “inquirers”. Inquiry nurtures curiosity and promotes enthusiasm for life-long learning. Effective inquiry encourages students to think, challenge and extend their ideas; it prompts students to reflect and take action. Through the inquiry process, students develop and demonstrate/practice the approaches to learning and attributes of the learning profile.

Inquiry is purposeful and authentic. It incorporates problem solving and supports students in achieving personal and shared goals. Inquiry extends students’ learning when the exploration of initial curiosity generates new questions and wonderings. By situating inquiry in meaningful contexts, connections are made between personal experiences to local and global opportunities and challenges.

Learning and teaching in the IB grows from an understanding of education that celebrates the many ways people work together to construct meaning and make sense of the world. The inquiry process supports the development of international mindedness. Represented as the interplay between asking (inquiry), thinking (reflection) and doing (action), this constructivist inquiry process leads towards open classrooms where different views and perspectives are valued. This process is the basis of the design and implementation of learning and teaching in all IB programmes.

The inquiry process

Connecting passion with intention, the inquiry process builds capacity through student agency where voice, choice and ownership feature strongly. PYP teachers and students collaborate to plan for inquiry through a wide range of strategies, tools and practices that suit learning goals, reflect the learner profile, respond to students’ interests and understandings, and the school’s culture and context. Through the inquiry process, students move from current understandings to new and deeper understandings.

This process involves:

  • exploring, wondering and questioning
  • experimenting and playing with possibilities
  • making connections between previous learning and current learning
  • making predictions and acting purposefully to see what happens
  • collecting data and reporting findings
  • clarifying existing ideas and reappraising perceptions of events
  • applying concepts to deepen conceptual understandings
  • researching and seeking information
  • establishing and testing theories
  • solving problems in a variety of ways
  • taking and defending a position.

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Scots College
1 Monorgan Road
Strathmore Park
Wellington 6022
New Zealand
Scots College
PO Box 15064
Miramar
Wellington 6243
New Zealand
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