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Inquiry

Girl with Magnifying Glass

Inquiry is a powerful methodology that engages students in pursuing personal, active, and authentic learning in depth.

“Inquiry is a dynamic process of being open to wonder and puzzlement and coming to know and understand the world. As such, it is a stance that pervades all aspects of life and is essential to the way in which knowledge is created. Inquiry is based on the belief that understanding is constructed in the process of people working and conversing together as they pose and solve the problems, make discoveries and rigorously testing the discoveries that arise in the course of shared activity.” What is Inquiry? (Galileo Educational Network, 2004)


In Manitoba, inquiry is embedded in the following curricula:

    Who, What, Where?
  • language arts, as inquiry
  • mathematics, as problem solving in the context of data analysis
  • science, as scientific inquiry and the design process
  • social studies, as social studies skills

As they engage in inquiry,

  • students develop questions to guide their learning,
  • research sources of information,
  • synthesize new ideas,
  • share evidence of their understanding,
  • all while reflecting on their learning.

Furthermore, inquiry processes enable students to learn how to learn, and to become self-directed learners.
However, inquiry is not direct instruction and should not be thought of as a smooth and efficient process.  It is by its very authentic nature, messy and bumpy, encompassing a good portion of cognitive dissonance and ambiguity.

“...inquiry is that it is not a "method" of doing science, history, or any other subject, in which there is a linear sequence of stages to be traversed. Rather, it is an overall approach to the chosen themes and topics, in which the posing of real questions is positively encouraged whenever they occur and by whoever they are asked. Equally important as the hallmark of an inquiry approach is that all tentative answers are taken seriously and are explored as rigorously as the circumstances permit.” Action, Talk and Text (Wells)

As teachers and students engage in inquiry, they can expect to feel uncertain as they start to explore their inquiry questions, optimistic as they begin to plan and gather information to support their inquiry, confused, frustrated, and doubtful as they try to make sense of the information they have gathered, a sense of clarity as they begin to produce a representation of their understanding, a sense of direction and confidence as they communicate their understanding to others, and perhaps a sense of satisfaction or maybe disappointment as they reflect on their inquiry process. Information Search Process (Kuhlthau)

Resources for Inquiry

For access to more resources about Inquiry, visit the LwICT - Resources for Inquiry site. This site is moderated, if you have a recommended resource that you would like to share, just double click and post your resource to the site.