Inquiry, interpreted in the broadest sense, is the process initiated by the student or the teacher that moves the student from his or her current level of understanding to a new and deeper level of understanding. Inquiry takes place at the knowing/not knowing intersection (Wells, Lindfors 1999).
It can take many forms, including:
•exploring, wondering and questioning
•experimenting and playing with possibilities
•making connections between previous learning and current learning
•making predictions and acting purposefully to see what happens
•collecting data and reporting findings
•clarifying existing ideas and reappraising perceptions of events
•deepening understanding through the application of a concept
•making and testing theories
•researching and seeking information
•taking and defending a position
•solving problems in a variety of ways.
Inquiry involves an active engagement with the environment in an effort to make sense of the world, and consequent reflection on the connections between the experiences encountered and the information gathered. Inquiry involves the synthesis, analysis and manipulation of knowledge, whether through play or through more formally structured learning.
(The Primary Years Programme: A basis for practice, January, 2009)