How To Practice the Inquiry Method of Teaching

Many new studies have shown that by involving students in hands on activities, their understanding increases significantly.  This type of instruction includes the inquiry method of teaching.  This guided practice gives the students a problem to research and reach a conclusion.  While this type of instruction is common in a science classroom, it is practical for all disciplines.  

  1. Introduce students to the Scientific Method.  There are four generally accepted steps to the Scientific Method that should be followed to solve any problem:  identify the problem, form a hypothesis, experiment or research, analyze the findings to make generalizations.  Each step will be outlined below.
     
  2. Identify the problem.  This part of the lesson will be up to you as the teacher.  This is a good way to introduce the lesson and what you expect the students to investigate.  You may add discussion about why it is important to understand the problem as a society if you wish.
     
  3. Form a hypothesis.  Have students write a statement about what they think the results will show after they are finished.  This is an educated guess and does not have to be correct.  Some students have trouble with this part and think they can fill in this blank after they get the results to ensure their hypothesis was correct.  By having them right it down before experimenting, you reduce the risk of a revision after the experiment.
     
  4. Do an experiment or research.  This is when the students need to gather data and try to figure out how to solve the problem stated at the beginning of the lesson.  It is important to explain the importance of "controls"-an experiment where nothing is changed-so the students will have a standard with which to compare their results.  Only one variable at a time should be changed or there is no way to know which variable produced the results.
     
  5. Analyze the data and make a generalization.  Gather all of the results of the experiment and come to a conclusion or solution to the problem.  Ask the students to discuss whether or not their hypothesis was correct or if anything out of the ordinary was discovered.  Help them make a generalization about the problem and its solution.

The Scientific Method is an important tool for students to understand and use when figuring out solutions to problems.  The inquiry method of teaching is a great lesson on how to correctly follow the process.  

 

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