12 Inquiry-based Learning Strategies and Examples

Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Editorial Team

Progress is born of Doubt and Inquiry– Robert G. Ingersoll 

That’s why asking questions and inquiring about doubts in the classroom enriches knowledge and promotes children’s critical thinking and creativity. Inquiry-based learning is a student-centered teaching approach based on inquiring doubts, devised by John Dewy, a renowned philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer. It is an active teaching method that investigates real-world problems and encourages students to ask questions in the classroom. 

Inquiry-based learning helps children think beyond classroom learning by enhancing their perspectives and promoting various skills. This approach to learning is believed to promote self-regulated learning skills, metacognitive abilities, communication skills, creativity, and critical thinking.[1]

This learning approach can help children think outside the box and apply their knowledge in the real world. It promotes complex problem-solving skills and makes children research-oriented. 

Multiple strategies can be used to promote inquiry-based learning in classroom settings. Let’s discuss some of the widely used and popular strategies. 

Inquiry-based learning strategies with examples  

1. Instructional technique 

Instructional technique 

The instructional technique is a highly effective and widely used technique in inquiry-based learning. The instructional technique involves the active role of both the instructor and the students where instructors provide necessary step-by-step support and guidance to the students and help them understand the concepts for effective and life-long learning. 

This can be achieved by putting up Brain-stimulating questions in the classroom, and with the proper scaffolding from teachers, discussions are facilitated, and doubts are inquired about and solved. The instructional technique is a useful strategy to engage the whole classroom in learning. For instance, teachers can demonstrate the concepts or processes using different methods like videos, role-playing, etc., and active discussion can be encouraged. 

2. Socratic dialogues

Socratic dialogues

Socratic dialogue is another creative strategy that facilitates inquiry-based learning. Students are encouraged to engage in dialogues on a specific topic, add their points of view, critically analyze their points of view and that of others, and reach meaningful conclusions. 

For instance, teachers can make a pair of students and assign students with the same or different topics or critical thinking questions to think about and discuss. Further, teachers can encourage Socratic dialogues between the pairs and ask the pairs to represent their discussion, and the dialogues are exchanged one by one in the classroom.  

The Socratic dialogue will boost the critical thinking of the pair involved in Socratic dialogues and will help other students understand the concepts from different perspectives. 

3. Encourage questioning and input 

Encourage questioning and input 

Teachers can encourage active questioning and student input to promote inquiry-based learning in the classroom. It will open the path for new and diverse classroom discussions and help students brainstorm different concepts.

Once the concept has been taught, the teacher can open the class for discussion, and the doubts can be discussed and solved, or students can actively present their input on the topic taught. Teachers can also further ask questions to enhance this strategy, making students inquire and actively discuss the concepts. 

4. Group discussions 

Group discussions 

Group discussions are a great way to promote student discussions and critically analyze concepts. It will also allow the students to learn skills like collaborative learning and presentation skills reflect upon their learnings and revise the concepts. 

In group discussions, teachers don’t have to participate actively; they can provide the necessary small-group instructions, guidance, and support and supervise the students. With proper guidance, students can actively engage in inquiry-based learning and will develop the necessary skills. 

For instance, a teacher can make a group of 6-7 students and ask them to discuss a certain topic and later present their findings or conclusions of discussions for the whole class to brainstorm. 

5. Content reframing 

Content reframing 

Content reframing is a unique approach to making students curious and engages them in inquiry-based learning. A concept can be taught in one manner, and then it can again be reframed to be taught or presented in another manner. Or a concept taught in one manner can be reframed into some activity for better understanding. 

It will help students brainstorm, logically analyze the concept, and apply the concepts in the real world. Content reframing will help students analyze the concepts in multiple ways and will stimulate their thought patterns which will ultimately lead to inquiry-based learning. 

For instance, teachers can design any task or activity that involves practical implications of the concept. Teachers can help students understand the concept using different methods like live or 3D models.

6. Student-led discussions 

Student-led discussions 

Another active inquiry-based learning strategy is student-led discussions. It involves the active participation of both students and teachers. It is a highly effective strategy for an active discussion in the classroom. Student-led discussions not only strengthen the learned concepts but are also useful to help students understand the concept from scratch. 

The whole class can simultaneously participate in the discussion or present their views successively. Teachers can actively participate in their discussion and mold it appropriately by promoting inquiries. The strategy is best applied when there are a limited number of students. 

For instance, students and teachers can sit in a circle and put their views forward. No view must be criticized or discarded; understanding the other’s views should be encouraged in student-led discussions. 

7. Real-life problem-based learnings or discussions

Real-life problem-based learnings or discussions

Discussing and reflecting on real-world problems is a highly suitable strategy for inquiry-based learning. It will help students understand how a theoretical concept is practically applied. Also, it will help students brainstorm different methods for applying the same concept and reaching a conclusion. Discussing real-world problems like the application of arithmetic sequence, square and square roots, etc. promotes lifelong learning and helps students think critically.

For instance, teachers can present case studies in the class, doubts or inquiries can be raised, and active discussions can be carried out on the respective case studies. It will also help students view things from fresh perspectives. 

8. Technology-led learning 

 Technology led learning 

Technology-led learning is another advanced inquiry-based learning strategy that is rapidly gaining the attention of many educators. Technology-led learning involves multimedia to help students understand and inquire about the concept. Technology-led learning also provides creative opportunities for inquiries to be resolved. 

For instance, flowcharts, live 3D models, 3D diagrams, etc., can be used in the classroom to teach students and discuss concepts. Since it involves multiple senses, the concepts will be better learned and processed. It will also make the practical application of the concept easy. 

9. Reinforcing inquiries 

Reinforcing inquiries 

Sometimes encouraging students to ask questions and provide their input doesn’t work well. In that case, extrinsic motivation can be provided to the students regarding extra scores or appreciation. Teachers can promote inquiry-based learning by encouraging inquiries in the classroom, and those who will ask questions or provide input will be rewarded.  

Reinforcing strategies inquiry can be carried out in multiple ways. For instance, the teacher can divide students into two groups at the beginning of the lecture. Each input or question will be scored 1 point. By the end of the lecture, whichever team has the maximum total scores wins. The team’s scores can be summed up for the whole term, and later, a reward will be presented to the winning team. 

10. Reflection and metacognition 

Reflection and metacognition 

Reflection and metacognition are highly useful and effective strategies to boost inquiry-based learning. Students can be encouraged to reflect on their learnings after critically analyzing them. Since they actively analyze the concepts and indulge in metacognitive processes, they will gain a deeper understanding of the concept and formulate unique and practical inquiries. 

Reflection and metacognition actively stimulate the brain and allow the students to process active thought. Inquiry-based learning is also one of the self-directed learning strategies students can be involved in.  

For instance, after the end of the class, individual students can be asked to analyze the lesson taught and reflect on their learning critically. 

11. Experiments and educational trips 

Experiments and educational trips 

Experiments are another inquiry-based learning strategy that helps students learn the practical application of the concepts. Experiments are widely used in science-related subjects but can also be extended to other subjects to encourage fun and active inquiry-based learning. Experiments are a great way to stimulate your brain, inquire about the concepts, and directly apply the concepts. 

Educational trips are a fun way of learning where students learn from real experiences or stories of others. Students can be taken to museums, laboratories, courts, etc. 

For instance, physics and chemistry experiments can be carried out in laboratories. Museums are a great way of getting the hang of history. 

12. Project-based learning 

Project-based learnings 

Another fun yet effective inquiry-based learning strategy is project-based learning. Project-based learning strategy involves assigning project topics to students either individually or in groups. It will help students brainstorm and come up with novel and unique ideas for representing the concept. 

With active engagement with the subject matter, students will delve into the concepts and engage in inquiry-based learning[2]. For instance, teachers can assign the students a project topic and ask them to represent it as creatively as possible. It will enhance the creativity of students and will allow them to think of the concept in multiple ways. 

Final words 

Inquiry-based learning is an active learning approach that equips the students with skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, etc., which are necessary for a research-oriented attitude and solving real-world problems. 

Multiple strategies like instructional methods, content-reframing, student-led discussions, etc., can be implemented in the classroom to encourage active brainstorming. It will help the student view things from broad perspectives and prepare students for the real world. 


  1. Hmelo-Silver, Cindy & Duncan, Ravit & Chinn, Clark. (2007). Scaffolding and Achievement in Problem-Based and Inquiry Learning: A Response to Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2006). Educational Psychologist. 42. 99-107. 10.1080/00461520701263368. 
  2. Joseph, Victoria & Sheikh, Irfan & Rajani, Salman. (2022). Inquiry-Based Learning Method Of Teaching In Education: A Literature Review. Webology. 19. 799. 

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