Inquiry-based learning includes a family of approaches: project-based learning, problem-based learning, and design-based learning. inquirED has developed our curriculum out of a growing body of evidence that demonstrates the power of inquiry-based practices to improve student outcomes, encourage deeper understanding, increase student engagement, and narrow the achievement gap. Below is a brief survey of key research findings regarding the effectiveness of inquiry-based learning practices.
Inquiry-Based Learning Research Highlights
In 2008, Stanford researchers examined 20 years of research on the effectiveness of inquiry-based learning in improving student outcomes. Across all research, they found that students learn more deeply when they apply classroom-gathered knowledge to real-world problems and that inquiry-based practices have a more significant impact on student performance than any other variable, including student background and prior achievement.
A 2016 meta-analysis by Ard W. Lazonder and Ruth Harmsen, synthesized 72 empirical studies examining the power of inquiry-based learning, finding that teacher-supported, inquiry-based instruction was consistently more effective than other pedagogies at improving learning outcomes amongst students.
In a 1996 study of elementary, middle, and high school students, researchers found that the use of inquiry-based, authentic practices not only improved student outcomes but also narrowed the achievement gap between high and low-performing students.
A June 2017 study examining student outcomes in social studies and reading showed that students within an inquiry-based learning control group showed statistically significantly higher growth in social studies.
In a July 2010 study gauging the effectiveness of problem-based learning, students who engaged in inquiry performed better on assessments of problem-solving skills and standardized tests.
A 2019 student on inquiry-based and problem-based learning found that in the classes that used inquiry-based instruction at least four days a week, student outcomes improved significantly more than students in traditional classes.