Inquiry-Based Learning

Progressive Learning

“Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.”

-Chinese Proverb

This proverb evokes a Deweyan, progressive form of education.  Passively learning through a lecture leads to students forgetting, while going out and having students EXPERIENCE for themselves promotes a greater learning environment.  Culture helps to shape these experiences, and in the assigned case of a 4th grade classroom with many Asian-American children, the family-centered culture that permeates their homes would shape how they approach assignments in the classroom.  For example, I have taught several English classes that begin with a warm-up writing prompt, “What would you do with a million dollars?” If you come from a family-centered household, your answer might revolve around bettering your circumstances for your entire family.  On the other hand, if your household promotes individuality, the answer might be more egocentric (i.e., I will buy a mansion and a sports car).  Neither answer is right or wrong, but each answer is based upon the student’s cultural experiences.

Inquiry-based learning is another progressive form of education that strives to make learning more interactive and memorable (Exline, 2004).  Inquiry-based learning involves experience that leads to greater understanding: students seek resolutions to questions and issues as they construct new knowledge (Exline, 2004).  This type of learning is especially important for learning the scientific method. Edelson, Gordin & Pea (1999) argued that inquiry experiences can provide valuable interactive experiences for students to improve their understanding of the scientific method.  They composed a list of five significant challenges to implementing inquiry-base learning, as well as proposed strategies for addressing these challenges through carefully incorporating technology into the curriculum (Edelson, Gordin & Pea, 1999).


Edelson, D., Gordin, D. & Pea, R. (1999). Addressing the Challenges of Inquiry-Based Learning Through Technology and Curriculum Design. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 8(3&4), 391-450.

Exline, J. (2004). Inquiry-based Learning. Educational Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved from:

One response to “Inquiry-Based Learning

  1. I totally agree with you about the chinese proverb. I am very much a doer, so having someone teach me something hands on I will grasp it much easier. I like the writing prompt you give students to warm-up to, it really gives you some insight to how their mind is working and what they think about most. I am not familiar with the inquiry based learning but it seems interesting from what you have stated. Good job!