Tool IH-1: Exploring teachers’ ideas

For this tool you will need the following resources:

  • IH-1 PowerPoint

Many science teachers tend to think of IBL tasks as any activity that involves hands-on activity or engages students in conducting experiments, no matter if they do it in a recipe-like way, with no minds-on.

download_powerpoint This tool explores teachers’ conceptions about inquiry-based learning. It builds on their previous ideas in order to evolve towards a common understanding of IBL and the associated processes of value in learning.

Ask the teachers in advance to bring:

  • an example of a science laboratory activity;
  • an example of a classroom activity they consider to be a good example of an IBL task for science education.

teamworkAsk the group to work in pairs to look at the examples they brought along, and discuss what they know about IBL or what they think it looks like.


Bring the group together and promote a group discussion on the limited potential of those activities that:

  •  focus on prescribed procedures
  • leave no space for students to think or make decisions
  • do not promote discussion, reasoning or the development of evidence-based explanations.

Ask teachers to share their example of good IBL practice to the rest of the group and explain why they think the activity presented can be considered as a powerful IBL activity. Discuss to what extent the examples of IBL activities provide students with opportunities to:

  • explore situations;
  • pose questions;
  • plan investigations;
  • make decisions;
  • experiment systematically;
  • interpret and evaluate;
  • reason and explain;
  • communicate results.

teamworkAsk each teacher to select one of the activities presented in the earlier part of the activity and work on them in pairs to make them more IBL-oriented.

nextstepsThe teachers may now decide to use the task they have worked on with a class. They should observe the effects on student learning, reflect on changes that might further develop the IBL potential of the activity and be ready to share their reflections at the next session.