Inquiry-based learning


​​What is it?

Inquiry-based learning encourages curiosity, inspires creativity and places emphasis on the student's role in the learning process. Students engage through questions, problems or scenarios in an active way, rather than listening passively. They make meaning of what they are learning as they begin to understand how this new learning connects to real-world contexts.

Inquiry-based learning prioritises problems that require critical and creative thinking so students can develop their abilities to ask questions, design investigations, interpret evidence, form explanations and arguments, and communicate findings.


The use of an inquiry-based approach to learning and teaching aims to increase student engagement in deeper thinking and learning, foster creativity and student choice and provide opportunities for authentic learning.

Inquiry-based learning at Ironside State School

Ironside State School is committed to delivering innovative units of inquiry. Curiosity and creativity are nurtured as a means for exploring our everchanging world. We believe in developing students to be effective life-long learners who are successful, informed, motivated and productive members of the local and global community.

Through the Australian Curriculum learning areas of Humanities Social Sciences, Science, Technologies and The Arts, teachers collaboratively plan units of inquiry that provide opportunities for students to explore and build on their knowledge and understandings, and skills.

At Ironside, year level units of inquiry provide engaging learning experience that develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions for self-directed learning, social development and active and engaged citizenship.

Teachers focus on deepening students' learning through carefully designed experiences that are authentic and relevant, and in learning environments that are both stimulating and provocative.

Learning is fuelled by a question, a problem or a scenario. At Ironside, each unit of inquiry, guided by these questions, problems or scenarios, allows students to investigate a concept that connects across a number of learning areas; and within a year level the learning sequence may look slightly different depending on the students' interests and current knowledge and understandings.

Our students are encouraged to take personal responsibility and ownership of their learning. Therefore, throughout all units of inquiry, intentional teaching also focuses on the 'HOW' as well as the 'WHAT'.  Students develop the how of inquiry through their learning assets which are reflected in a set of skills and dispositions requiring students to be effective: Self-Managers, Collaborators, Thinkers, Researchers and Communicators. (Kath Murdoch 2015)

Students' metacognitive processes are developed through critical questioning, investigation, application, reflection and evaluation.

These processes are reflected through the phases of the inquiry cycle and are evidenced by students:

  • ​asking questions to build on prior knowledge
  • finding out information from sources to answer and develop further questions that lead to deep conceptual understandings
  • sorting out information by making connections between ideas, learning areas and experiences
  • communicating findings
  • developing reflective practices inclusive of: goal setting and feedback.​

Year level units of inquiry

Phases of inquiry

Learning assets

Last reviewed 04 May 2021
Last updated 04 May 2021