What is Inquiry-Based Learning for Students?

Inquisitive Learning is learning that is intrinsically motivated. Children are naturally curious and have ample desire to explore new things around them. Here at OWIS, we encourage our young learners to ask more questions and be more curious through different activities that make their learning more interesting and fun. At times, traditional teaching and learning methodologies may not work for every child, and we understand that.  

Through an inquiry-based curriculum, teachers at OWIS Riyadh enable each learner to take more ownership of what they learn, and more importantly, how they would like to learn. Agency and access go hand in hand when students take real interest (and perhaps even joy) in learning new things, understanding their world, and defining the part they wish to take in it. 

This can be attained through Inquiry-Based learning, where instead of telling students what to do, we teach them how to explore their study material, ask the right questions, and find their own answers. If you are a little inquisitive about this and want to see how OWIS does its bit to make life-long learning a key component of each learner’s experience, please read on. 

What is Inquiry-Based Learning?

Inquiry-based learning is an approach that promotes active learning by encouraging learners to explore real-world connections through high-level questioning and problem-solving. This approach fosters curiosity and makes for a deeper understanding of the subject matter. 

The emphasis on experiential and problem-based learning makes the entire process of learning more engaging. This shifts the responsibility for learning from the teacher to the learner. The importance of inquiry-based learning lies in the fact that it motivates learners to better their individual learning processes. However, this type of learning requires some amount of independent learning skills, skills that inquiry-based teaching can bring to the fore. We teach young learners effective skills to process information from a young age, which translates to them constantly wanting to know more for themselves, and less intervention from their teachers.  

Components of Inquiry-Based Learning

Students at OWIS Riyadh are taught inquiry-based learning approaches in several ways. 

  • Question and conceptualization

Students have to formulate questions about the topic, create their own hypotheses, and make necessary observations through conceptualization and inquiry. This component encourages them to think critically and creatively, a core element of the International Baccalaureate program. It also helps develop a deeper understanding of the subject and identify areas they want to explore further.

  • Investigation

This is the most long-lasting component of inquiry-based learning activities. An investigative outlook enables learners to take lead on what they’re trying to learn, with the support of their teachers. Since open discussion and healthy debate is part of the learning fabric at OWIS, our young learners don’t just wish to find answers. Instead, they do their own research and gather independent evidence to support or refute their hypotheses, along with those of their peers.

  • Conclusion

After analyzing the information they have gathered, learners arrive at the answers to their initial questions. They determine if their hypotheses were supported or if there were limitations. There is no definite “conclusion” to what they take from this, their way of learning becomes broad-minded and inherently open to change. We encourage them to lead us toward further questions and analysis to clear up anything that appears inconclusive or needs more information. The importance of this part cannot be stressed enough, it takes away the finality of fact and opens their minds to the possibility that things change, and readies them to embrace open-mindedness towards life and the people they share the world with.  

  • Discussion and Dissemination

A key part of inquiry-based learning at OWIS – learners share their findings and learn from each other’s inputs,  while teachers merely facilitate the discussion. OF course, our teachers always add additional questions to encourage further debate and reflection. This stage allows students to connect their learning to real-world situations and develop critical thinking skills. This also helps them appreciate that knowledge and learning are not one-time events, but continuous lifelong processes.

  • Orientation and observation

When our teachers present a new concept or subject: they guide their learners through hands-on activities, and ask them to conduct independent research to deepen their understanding of the topic. This helps with a deeper understanding and develops a better sense of what they are learning, and helps students develop a broader understanding of where they stand, with respect to what they learn.  

Steps of Inquiry-Based Learning

Discovery through inquiry is the first phase of inquiry-based learning. This is followed by other steps of inquiry-based learning; they are as follows:

  1. Learners are constantly encouraged to devise their own topics and formulate questions they are eager to know more about. After this, teachers can help them formulate problems, and use citations and other inputs to pitch well-rounded questions.
  2. In-class topic research is a great community learning builder. Classes are divided into teams for project-based research as part of their class work. This really brings learners together as they take on combined ownership and responsibility, tackle unsolved questions with each other’s help, and arrive at answers: together. 
  3. Learners are given the opportunity to present what they learned and share their thoughts on their findings. This is often done by creating a presentation and sharing it with the class.  This aspect of the inquiry-based approach encourages students to access different items for learning. For instance, they can design and arrange their presentation using Google Slides. The main aim of this step is to help students collaborate and communicate their learnings with others.
  4. Reflection is crucial with classroom inquiry-based learning: learners look back on techniques that worked during research and those that didn’t. It goes beyond students reflecting on the research topic; it covers the entire process. This self-evaluation can really make students comfortable with how they learn and help them focus on the things that work for them in the learning process. 

Inquiry-based education molds students, giving them a deeper and wider understanding of issues than traditional teaching methods. The students having the power to question their curiosities and find a working way to get answers will help drive their achievement. Moreover, it will help motivate them to become better problem solvers and experts in their respective career fields in the future.

Benefits of Inquiry-Based Learning

A major benefit of inquiry-based learning is improved engagement and participation. It’s all about young learners taking charge of their curiosity and exploring various ways to answer their questions. With their teacher’s support, inquiry-based learning offers the following benefit to learners;

  • A better understanding of each learner’s unique learning needs

By placing students at the forefront, our teachers gain valuable insight through observation, this is in fact a key component of inquiry-based teaching. For example, an inquiry-based math lesson let’s teachers observe how each learner approaches a problem. This provides a deeper understanding of their learning styles and thought processes and enables teachers to tailor their teaching to better meet their students’ needs.

  • Better conceptual clarity 

Providing opportunities for learners to explore and discover leads to a greater understanding of skills and concepts than passive lecture-style instruction. For instance, while a teacher may demonstrate an algorithm for simplifying a chemistry equation, allowing students to try for themselves and develop their methods will give them a much deeper understanding of how it works. 

  • Better knowledge retention

Inquiry-based activities have been shown to improve retention, which is essential for long-term academic success. Studies have found that inquiry learning approaches promote greater retention of what students learn.

  • Better student engagement

Inquiry-based learning empowers learners to take charge of their learning journey and remain engaged with it long after school. They become more invested in class through active participation and also see several positive outcomes and improvements in their overall performance.

  • Improves curiosity in students

The inquiry approach in teaching allows learners to be confident in developing and sharing their own thoughts and ideas. They understand how to pose questions about a subject, be curious, and explore independently. 


Also Read: Early Literacy Skills in the IB PYP Classroom


The importance of inquiry-based learning is vast, and at OWIS Riyadh, we invest in these approaches to further enhance each learner’s growth journey while they are with us. Our teaching faculty continually strives to do better by using inquiry-based curricula to provide excellence and all-round development. Here, teachers collaborate with learners in their learning experience and help develop a natural, lifelong curiosity.


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