Inquiry and Project-Based Learning

Practicing and Strengthening Essential Life Skillsinquiry-based learning

Inquiry and project-based learning are closely related methods that engage students in real-world problems or explorations. In these experiences, students are practicing and strengthening their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Contrary to more traditional approaches that focus on the mastery of content, or what we know, inquiry-based learning focuses on how we come to know. With this learning, students act the way adult experts, such as engineers, lawyers, scientists, artists, business and community leaders, do when they work to solve problems in their work, in our communities, and our world.

Students start by considering an essential question. They then plan and implement their investigation to find answers. The final step is to communicate what they've learned in a way that engages their audiences. (See RVS' Instructional Design Framework)

These hands-on experiences are shown to improve retention of key facts and ideas better than a more traditional lecture style of learning. Students also demonstrate increased creativity,  independence, and willingness to take more risks with their learning. Furthermore, through inquiry, students develop skills they can apply to all content areas, across all grades, and at any age. The final bonus of this deeply engaging form of learning is that students never say, "why will I ever need to know this?"

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