10.  What is the Teacher’s Role in an Inquiry-Based Classroom?

Teachers in an inquiry-based science classroom demonstrate common behaviours, attitudes, and skills when compared to teachers in traditional classroom settings. Several of these include (adapted from Llewellyn, 2005 and Chiarotto, L. 2011):

  • Acting as a facilitator, mediator, initiator, and coach, while modeling, scaffolding, and supporting the stages of inquiry while gradually releasing responsibility as students gain knowledge, skill ,and confidence;
  • Stimulating and nurturing student curiosity, wonder, interest, empathy, and risk-taking with their thinking; 
  • Focusing on broad key concepts rather than Specific Expectations;
  • Asking questions and posing problems that require higher-level and critical thinking skills;
  • Engaging students in posing relevant questions and problems;
  • Maintaining a wonder wall of questions;
  • Assessing students’ prior knowledge at the beginning of the lesson or unit;
  • Using students’ prior knowledge as a basis to introduce new concepts;
  • Making learning relevant and meaningful to the student;
  • Using inquiries and investigations to anchor new information to previously acquired knowledge;
  • Using questions to initiate classroom discussions;
  • Rephrasing student questions and responses to help students answer their own questions;
  • Asking follow-up questions to student answers;
  • Refraining from divulging answers;
  • Looking for teachable moments that arise from problems of understanding;
  • Encouraging students to design and carry out their own investigations;
  • Co-learning with students;
  • Focusing the lesson on engaging and meaningful problem-solving situations;
  • Limiting the use of lecturing and direct instruction to appropriate occasions;
  • Allowing students to demonstrate what they know in multiple ways;
  • Using instructional classroom time effectively and efficiently by using the entire class time for instructional purposes;
  • Integrating science content with process skills, problem-solving strategies, and other subjects;
  • Planning lessons with the constructivist teaching strategy 5E Learning Cycle : engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration or extension, and evaluation (Coe, 2001);
  • Moderating classroom discussions so all students can share their view points;
  • Assessing student performance (process and product) in a variety of ways;
  • Monitoring student progress continuously on a daily basis;
  • Maintaining appropriate classroom management by providing expectations and structure;
  • Displaying student work, concept maps, and graphic organizers;
  • Arranging student desks in small groups or U-shape to encourage discussion and collaboration;
  • Providing computer and textbook resources, materials, and supplies for in-class use;
  • Providing areas to store projects and extended investigations.




SOURCE:  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, p136-137




1.  Chiarotto, L. (2011). Natural Curiosity: A Resource for Teachers – Building Children’s Understanding of the World Through Environmental Inquiry. Oshawa, ON: Maracle Press Ltd.

Retrieved from   http://www.naturalcuriosity.ca/pdf/NaturalCuriosityManual.pdf


2.  Coe, M. A. (2001). The 5E Learning Cycle Model.

Retrieved October 2013 from http://faculty.mwsu.edu/west/maryann.coe/coe/inquire/inquiry.htm


3.  Llewellyn, D. (2005). Teaching High School Science Through Inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.


4.  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.