The inquiry approach in science and mathematics

Inquiry based science and mathematics education (IBSME) shares some features with traditional scientific education but differs from it in many respects. It goes beyond the manipulation of materials to the key factor of engaging students in identifying relevant evidence and reflecting on its interpretations.

Three key distinguishing characteristics of IBSME must be emphasized:

  • Through IBSME, students are developing concepts that enable them to understand the scientific aspects of the world around them through their own thinking, using critical and logical reasoning about evidence that they have gathered.
  • Through IBSME, teachers lead students to develop the skills necessary for inquiry and the understanding of science concepts through their own activity and reasoning. This involves exploration and hands-on experiments.
  • While doing science, the teacher focuses on the intentional process of
    • diagnosing problems,
    • criticizing experiments,
    • distinguishing alternatives,
    • planning investigations,
    • researching conjectures,
    • searching for information,
    • constructing models,
    • debating with peers,
    • forming coherent arguments.