Question & inquiry

 

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I like the first definition of “question” given by Merriam-Webster : “an interrogative expression often used to test knowledge”. I like it because it describes well the most frequent use of questions in the classroom. At least when I was a student.  I also like the first definition of “inquiry” by Merriam-Webster:  “examination into facts and principles, research”.  Questions and inquiries have one thing in common: they are both requests for information. They differ in the kind of question they are and how you arrive at the answer.  “What time is it?” is a question.  “Where were you born?” is another.  Let’s call these “simple questions”, only because they can be answered directly. An inquiry is a question that you can answer only by asking more questions. In inquiry-based learning, we train students to address a big and hard question by asking smaller questions. Then, we teach them to put their small answers together to help arrive at a conclusion that addresses the big question. We can help our students get there by offering some such questions, or explicitly asking them to come up with some.  One thing is for sure; the conclusions drawn from an inquiry cannot be obtained via a simple look-up in an encyclopedia or other resource.

 

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