inquirED Blog 

Research, resources, and reflections on inquiry-based teaching and learning.

  • inquirED

Keeping Curiosity Alive

Updated: Jun 11




Digging into Curiosity

You don’t have to look very deeply into a curriculum or online Edtech tool to find a statement like “our product sparks your students’ curiosity.” inquirED is guilty as charged when it comes to this - defining our Inquiry Questions as “the complex, opened-questions that spark student curiosity and drive them forward into action.”


But what do we actually mean by curiosity? Is it a buzzword or research-based?


Defining Curiosity

Perhaps we lack a research-based definition of curiosity in education because there’s just not one to be had. In the world of learning theory, psychology, and neuroscience, there’s an ongoing debate over how to define it and differentiate it from other phenomena.


That’s why it’s best to keep the definition as simple as possible. For our purposes, curiosity can be simply defined as “a drive to know.”


But that simple definition actually helps out a lot. By classifying curiosity as a drive, we can suppose that like every other drive it’s instinctual, rooted in a need, and compels us to action. And if we accept that curiosity is a drive, we can begin to understand how profoundly it works in our lives. Think about what brought you to this blog - about why you will click away. Consider the “attention economy” that is built around stimulating our curiosity.


Curiosity in the Classroom

It should be a relief for teachers to realize that students come into the classroom with their curiosity drive fully intact. It’s not something we must bring or instill in them. But it also makes us responsible for meeting their need.


And when students’ curiosity drive is met, it can have profound implications. Research shows that students with increased levels of curiosity also exhibit:

Not only are these benefits evident across demographic groups, but research from the University of Michigan indicates that “the association of curiosity with academic achievement is greater in children with low socioeconomic status.”


Webinar Summary

We dug into some of the curiosity research outlined above in the webinar and looked more specifically at practices that help to spark classroom curiosity and hook students in the inquiry process. We referred to two main resources as we examined classroom practice, including

  • The Right Question Institute's Resource Center: Find everything you need to use the QFT in class tomorrow!

  • inquirED's Together When Apart: Weekly inquiries for Early, Intermediate, and Middle School students. Releasing one a week for 10 weeks. All centered on the compelling question: How can we stay together when we're apart?

Please find a recording of the webinar below.