Additionally, there are lots of misconceptions of inquiry-based teaching and learning. It is beneficial to distinguish what inquiry is and what inquiry is not. To encourage authentic inquiry and develop agency of teachers and students, we need three important ingredients: voice, choice, and ownership.
There are different phases of inquiry.
- Structured Inquiry: The lower level is structured inquiry. That means the teacher is the sole knowledge distributor and the students has the lowest ownership of their learning. The teacher decides the topic, and identify an issue or a problem for students to explore and investigate. Students follow the teacher's direction and questions to complete step-by-step procedures. At this stage, learning is very much teacher driven.
- Guided Inquiry: The interaction between the teacher and student increases in this stage. The guided inquiry process puts the emphasis on students and they has slightly greater autonomy in terms of choice for topic and product. The teacher design the materials to scaffold thinking and help students develop relevant skills.
- Open Inquiry: Teachers plays different roles in this phase of inquiry. The complexity of teaching is increasing even more. Teachers not only defines the knowledge framework in which the inquiry will take place, but also needs to create time and space for students to generate their own questions and approaches to solve a problem. Students are constantly involved in the design-thinking process that involves risk-taking, knowledge acquisition and decision-making. Teachers must equip skills to facilitate students to ask appropriate and challenging questions during their inquiry process.
- Learning cycle: I think when MYP year 5 students develop their personal project, they fit into this learning cycle. They have free choice of topic, concept, content, context, process and product. This is the inquiry phase that students are encouraged to follow their natural curiosity. In the learning cycle, students have full ownership of their learning. This is also the process in which students enhance their personal values and beliefs, as well as develop their own self identity. Although the ownership of student learning is increasing, it doesn't mean the teacher's job gets easier. Instead, I think it gets more complex as teachers need to have the skills to conduct cognitive coaching conversations and help students to identify their WHY of doing.
In all phases of inquiry, teachers should promote originality, adaptation, design, creativity, and collaboration throughout. These elements should be weaved through the process of the inquiry-based teaching and learning so that we could be more prepared to the future world of Volatility, Unknown, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA world).