Enquiry Based Learning – A Proposed Framework 2011

This article is based on a presentation to Mr N Hackett (SLT, Learning and Behaviour) and the Enquiry Based Learning (EBL) steering committee at Birches Head High School in support of their creation and implementation of a new EBL curriculum.  The purpose of the presentation was to establish a baseline model which the committee tweaked to reflect the schools needs during the transition to student-centred learning.

Based rules

  • Learning takes place in two ways, inductively and deductively
    • Inductively (we define as insight through accessing media (reading and listening))
    • Deductively (we define as insight through experimentation (testing and data gathering))
  • We aim for EBL to be mainly a deductive process
    • We recognise that EBL in real-terms will be a scaled blend of both
      • Subjects like RE and History will offer a greater inductive focus
      • STEM subjects will offer a greater deductive focus

Learning through discovery requires:

  • Acceptance of failure (intrinsically and extrinsically)
  • A planning process
  • A testing process
  • A review process

Key Assumption

When I drafted this model I made some assumptions:

  • There must be a physical product at the end of the enquiry (student achievement)
  • Level assessment is based on the physical product
  • Not all learners are ready for enquiry based learning (differentiation)
    • Some learners will feel unsupported
    • Some learners will believe that learning is a transfer of knowledge and skills
  • Enquiry can be of any length
  • Learning falls below the non-observable line
  • Demonstration of learning is above the non-observable line




The Big Question

Central to enquiry based learning is the big question.  The big question tells the learner what they need to investigate (discover).

Based on the big question the learners create a list of key questions which form the basis of the enquiry. By finding the answers to all these questions, the learner will answer the big question.  A example of differentiation would be to provide a list of ten key questions and ask the learner to pick five.  To help the students to structure their thinking I propose the following framework.

Question One) This is my question
What do I knowI know….
What don’t I knowI don’t know….
What am I looking forI need to know ….
Where will I find the answerWikipedia, Google, Youtube

The Learning Process

Key concerns:

  • How and what do we assess during this stage of confusion and discovery
  • Is it possible to assess attainment level at this stage
  • How will the student and the teacher measure attainment
  • Reviews of success and/ or attainment progress
    • Action plans
    • Journals
    • Diaries
    • Blogs
    • Tick sheets
  • Curriculum or Assessing Pupils Progress (APP) … i.e.
3 Communicating informationEvidence
Recognise common layouts  and how these help the intended audienceMost of the webpages which I have investigated use the three box layout, some used the four box layout.
Use and explain why you have used the right layout on your productsee ‘web_layout.doc’ in my EBL folder

 http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/110236 (Jan 2011)

    • Small group review and focus groups
    • Application and assessment of SEALs (Social, Emotional and Learning Skills)
    • Application and assessment of PLTs (Personal, Learning Thinking Skills)

 Measure Attainment – Approach and Needs

  • What approach(es) wll we use
    • Student centred (Independent)
    • Teacher centred (Controlled)
  • Do we need to teach the students to understand and use these approaches
  • Do we need to teach the teachers to understand and use these approaches
  • EBL is about students questioning and controlling their own learning
  • Who will determine success and/ or the success criteria

Preparing for Enquiry Based Learning

Formal & Informal Teaching

  • Whole class
  • Small groups
  • Skill/ knowledge workshops
  • Curriculum workshops (steer learning/ achieve NC)
  • Individual coaching
  • Student leaders (pass on knowledge and skills)

Anticipated Needs

  • Planning (Before Project)
    • Anticipate what information the learners will need (web links, videos, books etc…)
    • Create a list of keywords
  • Real time needs (During the project)
    • Based on feedback from the learning process provide intervention (knowledge and or skills)
    • Link to assessment targets (NC, SEAL etc..)
Enquiry Based Learning - A Proposed Framework 2011
Enquiry Based Learning – A Proposed Framework 2011


Download Planning Document – Sample