What is Inquiry-Based Learning, and How is it Effective?

Everything you need to know about Inquiry-based Learning. Read more about the Type of Inquiry-based learning and how effective it is.

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Developed in the 1960s during the “discovery learning” movement, inquiry-based learning applies to many subject areas with proven benefits for students and the learning process.

What is inquiry-based learning?

Inquiry-based learning is a student-centred teaching process that encourages learners to ask questions, investigate complex problems and connect the things they learn in the classroom with the real world. Students involved in this teaching method become engaged in collaboration with others, problem-solving and exploration of their natural curiosities. Inquiry-based learning helps students develop skills that prepare them for academic education and career. 

Teacher apply inquiry based learning

Types of inquiry-based learning

There are four main approaches to this teaching method:

In this teacher-led approach, learners only receive a question, must define a method of investigation and test the question at the end. Primary and intermediate schools use the guided inquiry approach the most.

Learners receive the question and the method of achieving the result but have to provide an explanation supported by the evidence collected during and through the specific investigation process.

This approach is often utilised in science classes, enabling students to apply the scientific process to identify a solution.

Students are free to explore their interests. They must develop their own questions, define investigative methods, conduct the inquiry and present their results once the process is complete.

The open-ended inquiry approach is frequently used in humanities classes, where learners explore topics in-depth and discuss different viewpoints.

This is a problem-solving approach in which learners are supposed to solve a real-world problem. A problem-based inquiry approach is present in mathematics and engineering classes, enabling students to apply what they have learned to tackle real-life issues.

The learning centre teaching staff’s professional development is an integral part of the working hours, not just a periodical review of their performance and skills.   

The governing principles of inquiry-based learning are:

  • Students are at the centre of the process. Teachers, resources and technology support them;
  • All learning activities focus on information-processing skills;
  • Teachers teach students and learn more about them and the process of inquiry-based learning;
  • The central point is assessing the development of information-processing skills and conceptual understanding instead of the content of the studied subjects.

How is inquiry-based learning effective?

According to the article “What is Inquiry-Based Learning (and How is it Effective?)”, we retain 75% of things we do compared to only 10% of what we read and 5% of what we hear.

When students research and investigate a topic by themselves, they become curious and feel encouraged to discuss it with their colleagues and ask questions to gain deeper insights and knowledge about it.

By enabling students to take responsibility for their education, this teaching method keeps them engaged, interested in their studies, and focused on self-directed learning and problem-solving. It also encourages learners to explore a topic in-depth instead of looking for the easiest solution.

The inquiry learning model helps learners develop their knowledge using concepts they have previously encountered in solving different types of problems or situations. The students then connect new information with existing cognitive structures, resulting in effective learning and outcomes.

Inquiry-based learning is effective because:

When students question the information they have and create their solutions for given problems, they often think “outside the box”. Practised regularly, this turns into the ability to use critical thinking and solve problems.

Working on a problem determines learners to use communication for verbalising their thoughts, ideas and solutions. It improves their communication skills with others in both written and oral form.

by going deep into a concept with the help of inquiry, students begin to see this concept as more than an idea or rule. Learners understand how an idea was born, why a rule works and when it applies. This understanding is based on interpretation through their methods and thinking patterns, leading them to acknowledge what they have learned.  

When learners explore issues from the real world, they see first-hand how everything they learn in the classroom applies to real-life situations. It enables them to understand better the subjects they are studying and the world around them.

Many inquiry-based learning activities can be applied in the classroom based on the level of education. For instance, activities used in early learning centres or kindergartens differ from those in high or primary school. 

how to apply inquiry based learning

How to apply inquiry-based learning in the classroom

Many inquiry-based learning activities can be applied in the classroom based on the level of education. For instance, activities used in early learning centres or kindergartens differ from those in high or primary school. Examples:

Primary school students search to decide what objects they would put in a time capsule and why. This encourages them to talk about the relevance of objects for the progress of humanity and generates constructive debates among them.

Pre-school children experiment with planting seeds in small pots and caring for them as they grow. This involves using what they have learned about plants, observing their progress and providing them with the conditions they need for thriving: water, light and a hospitable environment. 

Primary school students receive a list of “facts” about planets from our solar system. Some of these facts are fake information. The students work in small groups and write down which information is true and which is not, sharing their ideas and thoughts with others. 

Taking a field trip encourages students (of any age) to observe their surrounding environment, explore real life and then communicate their notes during class. Exchanging notes reveals other students’ perspectives and helps them learn about what others consider relevant based on taken notes. 

High school students can be involved in a simulated archaeological dig to discover different items. They need to identify the era and the historical figures to which these items belonged to. This activity enables them to investigate, conclude and discuss their findings, which improves at the same time their communication skills. 


Inquiry-based learning is a highly effective teaching method. It works at every level of education because it encourages curiosity and in-depth exploration by students of various studied subjects. It enables students to retain more information, be more engaged in their studies and achieve better academic results.

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We provide a creative and open ended environment that encourages infinite learning for the children and strong relationships between teachers, children and families.

The day’s routines are flexible. At the same time, care is taken to recognise and respect each child’s needs.

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Why Choose a Bright Beginnings Early Learning Centre?

Here's what our parents say about our childcare centres

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Our latest parent reviews from Google

Tanya Vester
Tanya Vester
Our sons attended Bright beginnings early leaning Centre and absolutely loved it. They attended Manuka and Kowhai rooms, and later also Pohutukawa room. The teachers in all three rooms were just SO lovely, caring, attentive and supported their learning journeys and communicated the children’s achievements with us. We are so thankful for the time our kids were able to spend there, and the kids made great memories for life. We highly recommend BBELC to anyone looking for a child care center. We had to leave due to moving overseas and will miss BBELC so much!!!
Sukhpreet Singh Mediratta
Sukhpreet Singh Mediratta
"I don't think I can express in words the gratitude I feel towards you all. My child, Amrin have learnt so much in your care that will stay with her for life. I believe their fondest memories of childhood will include many of you - I truly hope you are all extremely proud your efforts with our children. Thank you for all the wonderful support and care you have given to my daughter. This Centre is a very special place and she has grown so much in your nurturing, inspiring and challenging environment. You are really helping her to prepare for her school foundation." Actually, this is a second home for Amrin, she started her journey from BBELC, Auckland and will leave for school from here. Thanks to all the teachers, If I start typing the names, the list will be so long. In last especially I should not forget Nikita, who is so understanding and caring towards kids as well as families. Thank you with much love."
Anaru Pui
Anaru Pui
We've had our daughter Waikohu pui in the center for over 1 year now And she has Developed into such a beautiful kind person and has gained some great life skills and experiences thank you to all the teachers for there support and care with our baby girl making life alot easier knowing shes getting great education and Aroha (Love) from all the teachers at her Kura ( school ) thanks again ❤️ from the Pui whanau
Jagroop Kaur
Jagroop Kaur
Teachers are very kind and patient. Also they encourage children to learn in different indoor and outdoor activities. I am so pleased in POHUTUKAWA room the teacher do the school transition program, which is really helpful to the kids enter the primary school in the future. Thanks all teacher who support VIRASAT and other kids there quite well.
anne dela cruz
anne dela cruz
We have been with BBELC Hamilton since 2020 during the peak of pandemic and I never doubted to bring my children here knowing that they are on a safe place and the team are all aware of the best health and safety plan to ensure that everyone in the centre are safe. The centre is the BEST for me in terms of CLEANLINESS (the place os very tidy), SAFETY OF CHILDREN (only parents/caregivers can enter the premises on their pin coded door), FRIENDLY STAFF (you will be greeted by a very friendly receptionist, you can talk to the teachers about your concern with your child), OPEN DOOR POLICY (Manager’s door is open all times for parents for any concern or question), NUTRICIOUS FOOD for our kids, SCHOOL READINESS PROGRAM (table activities, book reading, sharing with others, simple literacy), MAT TIME IS THE BEST as the kids learn to socialize, listen to teachers, story telling, yoga, dance time, music time,etc. and they also held PARENTS TIME where we can chat with the teacher about our kids, meet other parents, share experiences and strategies, parents gets treat and gift on special occasion like mother’s day and father’s day that will definitely make your day as a parent. And lastly for few years now, my kids have enjoyed their Christmas party where they get gift and enjoy bouncy castle, it’s simple but the experience and memories will be lifetime. THANKS TO ALL THE STAFF AND TEACHERS OF BBELC Hamilton! KUDOS TO ALL YOUR HARDWORK AND DEDICATION. CHEERS TO MANY MORE YEARS OF SUCCESS! - DELA CRUZ Family ( Robb and Reuben)
I love BBELC and my child love it too. As parents ,my husband and I deeply appreciate the staff being friendly ,kind ,patient ,role models and caring .The educators work well with parents to achieve the children’s developmental goals , the manager Leonie and Teachers Mari, Kathryn, Summer and Emma really care about the children and very welcoming. The childcare is secure and this gives us peace of mind in knowing that our little ones are in good hands and safe . The classrooms are clean and nicely decorated. I highly recommend sending your child to this center. It’s become our second home.
BBELC is an awesome environment for my daughter to learn and grow through different types of activities. All the staffs are friendly, supportive and helpful. Highly recommended to all.
Neda Bolouri
Neda Bolouri
A safe, happy and caring place for our children.
Norvega Bantang
Norvega Bantang
Bright Beginnings Early Learning Centre - Hamilton is like a second home to my 2 little girls. They are very supportive of the children’s early learning and individual development. The rooms are spacious, warm and cozy and provide different kinds of resources for the children to explore. My girls are always excited to go to kindy every morning. Since I have also recently become part of this centre, it’s good to know and see for myself how things work in the centre and how very passionate the staff are in looking after every child like they are family. As a parent, it gives me the peace of mind that my children are in good hands and are well taken cared of. Definitely made the right decision to enroll our children here.
Diana Villa-Ignacio
Diana Villa-Ignacio
BBELC is a wonderful centre which caters to quality care and learning of children. We take pride in our relationship with parents , whanau and children having positive environment, open communication, flexibility, catering to children needs and working alongside parent's aspiration for their children. Feel free to come and see our Hamilton centre. We will be happy to show you around and be part of our Bright Beginnings Family.

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