Inquiry learning provides students with opportunities to build knowledge, abilities and inquiring habits of mind that lead to deeper understanding of their world and human experience. The inquiry process focuses on the development of compelling questions, formulated by teachers and students, to motivate and guide inquiries into topics, problems and issues related to curriculum content and outcomes. Inquiry builds on students’ inherent sense of curiosity and wonder, drawing on their diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. The process provides opportunities for students to become active participants in a collaborative search for meaning and understanding (All Saskatchewan Curriculum K-12).
Inquiry is more than a simple instructional strategy. It is a philosophical approach to teaching and learning, grounded in constructivist research and methods, which engages students in investigations that lead to disciplinary and transdisciplinary understanding. Inquiry builds on students’ inherent sense of curiosity and wonder, drawing on their diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. The process provides opportunities for students to become active participants in a collaborative search for meaning and understanding. Students who are engaged in inquiry:
- construct deep knowledge and deep understanding rather than passively receiving information
- are directly involved and engaged in the discovery of new knowledge
- encounter alternative perspectives and differing ideas that transform prior knowledge and experience into deep understandings
- transfer new knowledge and skills to new circumstances
- take ownership and responsibility for their ongoing learning and mastery of curriculum content and skills (Saskatchewan Curriculum K-12)
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Learning and the Saskatchewan School Library Association have developed resources to support teachers in the use of inquiry learning. This website includes resources for developing an inquiry process, student engagement in an inquiry process as well as assessing an inquiry process.
The Ministry of Education in Alberta has developed a document which describes how to design a successful inquiry process including the phases of Planning, Retrieving, Processing, Creating, Sharing and Evaluating. This document also contains tips for teachers to build on student success in each of these phases.
The focus of the Heritage Fair program is to explore provincial curriculum using inquiry learning. Teachers throughout the province are already engaged in this approach to teaching and learning which is encouraged by the Ministry of Education. Participating in the Heritage Fair program provides the opportunity for students to participate in a province-wide initiative that connects them with their Saskatchewan and Canadian identities as part of the provincial curriculum.