Each term students will be involved in a unit with a school-wide common theme. We utilise an inquiry-based learning model for each of these units. Inquiry-based learning can have many definitions and can be compared directly to other forms of instruction such as problem-based learning. In a general sense, we define inquiry-based learning as a process where students formulate investigative questions, obtain factual information from a variety of sources, and then build knowledge that ultimately reflects their answer to the original question.
The Inquiry Learning model takes advantage of students’ natural curiosity. It requires well-developed questioning skills. It helps students to develop strategies and processes for collecting and evaluating information (information literacy).
Embedded within the inquiry-based process are numerous process and thinking skills that make this type of learning a rich and meaningful experience for students. Students may engage in this process as individual learners, or in cooperative teams. Additionally, the process is pliable, permitting various permutations of the process to be used effectively with all types of learners.
The Cotswold Inquiry Model allows the teacher to cover the achievement objectives as prescribed in the New Zealand curriculum documents as well as developing skills, processes and Cotswold values essential for the creation of lifelong learners. The skills and strategies identified will be explicitly taught at each stage of the inquiry process.
The model has been designed to provide a clear structure for learning that also allows some flexibility, with students identifying where they are at and reflecting on progress made at each stage.
There are three stages in the process of developing the skills and strategies outlined below
- Stage 1 is predominantly teacher directed
- Stage 2 provides scaffolding for increasing independence
- Stage 3 allows students to use the skills and strategies independently