Inquiry-based Strategies

While some of these strategies have particular application to make lectures more interactive or for facilitating small group learning though case-based instruction and team learning, educators may employ these strategies in clinical settings as well.  We have observed clinical educators use these strategies on rounds, in morning report, pre-rounding sessions or other clinical situations.

Inquiry-based Teaching/Learning

There are many ways to implement inquiry-based learning. One example is to engage students in Socratic conversations, that is, asking them to pose questions to examine a problem or case or question, reflect on the reasoning of self and peers, synthesize ideas, and build an argument for a reasonable approach or solution. This can be done in lecture time or small group learning situations, such as Team Learning or CBI sessions.  Preparing effective questions is key to using this method. The educator should formulate questions with specific learning objectives or related purposes in mind. There are many question types. Some are aimed at asking students to recall knowledge, while others require learners to apply or synthesize knowledge and facts. With all question types, the aim ought to be to encourage learners to articulate their reasoning for themselves or in communication with peers or instructors. The process of making one's thinking visible involves higher-order thinking as defined by Bloom's Taxonomy.

Questions may call on learners to:

  • Identify or investigate perspectives and biases
  • Require the learner to distinguish fact from opinion, known from unknown
  • Recognize and examine assumptions and potential errors
  • Probe implications and consequences of decisions at each juncture
  • Call for clarification of meaning

Related Resources

Socratic QuestionsSocratic DialogueInquiry Teaching Effective questions