From Diversifying Economic Quality: A Wiki for Instructors and Departments
The problem with the inquiry-based learning method is that it is irrelevant and outdated given the fast transmission of data possible due to technology. Rather, it is necessary for educational approaches being used to teach students to become problem solvers and critical thinkers, skills necessary given readily available facts and information-it is the application and manipulation of facts and data that students must learn, and not memorization. The inquiry-based learning approach provides students with critical thinking and problem solving skills by making the classroom an open system through which information can flow from students and educators alike. As its name implies, inquiry lies at the heart of the approach. It is through questioning and analysis of a problem/topic, the gathering of data from sources provided by educators and outside sources, and its analysis that students come to learn. At the heart of this approach lies the idea that students will learn to apply their knowledge to real life situations and gain the 'habit of mind' of seeking answers for problems they are faced with and also have a desire to investigate the world as a result
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More Ways to Incorporate Inquiry-based learning
- Use Peer Instruction.
- Teach using the case method. Providing students with a case representative of the lesson's educational objective effectively engages them beyond pure memorization. With case methods, students are forced to truly understand the underlying concept and apply it to the analysis of the case. Click here to see a guide to implementing the case method in the Economics classroom.
- Using problem sets and including context-rich problems. Problem sets effectively engage the student by asking it to apply knowledge from the lesson. More importantly, using context-rich problems that provide real-life applications of the lesson, and at times excess information, force the student to truly comprehend the material. For a guide on using context-rich problems in the Economics classroom click here. The use of technology in the classroom also enables inquiry-based learning by providing students with multiple resources and representations of the same information.
- Having a recitation session with students. Recitation sessions allow for close, one-on-one discussion of abstract concepts, of which there are many in the Economics discipline. By having a small group of students meet with a professor to discuss the weeks problem set, one sets the stage for critical discussions--students can discuss their ideas with each other and the professor and therefore gain a multidimensional understanding of concepts.