The Concept of Inquiry-based Teaching

Why Inquiry?

Inquiry-based teaching is not new. Socrates employed inquiry as a method of promoting deep thinking, discussion and debate to help peers collaboratively make meaning of concepts and controversy. 

Inquiry-based teaching has been called by various names, including the Socratic method, Socratic circles or seminars, inquiry-based teaching, and instructional conversations.

In every approach lies the cornerstone of the theory of teaching through inquiry - that inquiry promotes reflection on the issues, the role of society and self in addressing those issues, and the questions inevitably raised by any issue that is not well-settled.

Why Inquiry in Medical Education?

Medicine is an ever-evolving profession intertwined with ongoing scientific research and discoveries. Inquiry is at the heart of clinical problem-solving and scientific research. Thus, inquiry-based teaching has become essential to how we teach medical students.

Inquiry-based Teaching Requires Effective Questions

There is a great difference between asking effective questions - questions that promote learning, and asking ineffective questions - questions that do not.

Effective questions:
  • Engage learners as active participants in the learning process.

  • Encourage learners to be less-instructor dependent, and more adept at self-regulation.

  • Direct learners' attention to specific topics or issues.

  • Provide opportunities for learners to make connections among peers, ideas and resources.

  • Encouarge students to discover answers, rather than rely on instructors to provide them.

  • Emphasize the process of thinking.

  • Require reflection and self-assessment of knowledge and skills.

  • Emphasize Learning through articulation.

  • Enhance memory as learners determine meaning for themselves.