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Inquiry Process

“Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.” The last part of this adage is the essence of inquiry-based learning. Inquiry implies involvement that leads to understanding. -Joe Exline

“Memorizing facts and information is not the most important skill in today’s world. Facts change, and information is readily available – what’s needed is an understanding of how to get and make sense of the mass of data. Unfortunately, our traditional educational system has worked in a way that discourages the natural process of inquiry. Students become less prone to ask questions as they move through the grade levels. In traditional schools, students learn not to ask too many questions, instead to listen and repeat the expected answers.”

Inquiry process is not a single unique method or strategy. The scientific method is an inquiry process. Six Sigma, Franklin Covey and other business models use their own inquiry tools to drive decision making in organizations. The important common trait of any inquiry process is that it all revolves around the process of learning through questioning. Developing essential questions drives the process. The end point is not the concern. This method of learning is natural and empowering, and powerful at any point, though it happens to fit particularly well in project based learning opportunities.

“Establishing an essential question provides the impetus for investigations and research. If properly stated, the essential question has a dramatic impact, evoking a passionate level of interest as well as a firm commitment to persevere until a satisfying level of understanding is reached.”
-Jamie McKenzie (via

For more information about “Inquiry Based Education” you can begin with the Wikipedia page on the subject.

Lincoln Public School’s Library Media Services are very interested in inquiry based learning, and in September 2010 Jamie McKenzie, a national author and proponent of this learning method, will a few days at LPSDO working with staff members. If this is an area that intrigues you, please contact your school’s Library Media Specialist for more information on what he had to share.

When assessing student work within an inquiry based project, you have a range of possibilities. Learning journals, products (demonstrations of mastery scored with rubrics,) conferences and presentations of newfound knowledge to peers. More information may be found at

Posted in My Thoughts.