At its most fundamental, inquiry-based learning is about engaging students' curiosity in the world and the ideas that surround them. As scientists and mathematicians, they observe and pose questions about situations; if their questions are too complex, they may try to simplify or model the situation; they may then try to answer their questions by collecting and analyzing data, making representations, and by making connections with what they already know. They try to interpret their findings, check that they are accurate and sensible and then share their findings with others.
This process is often missing in the school classroom. There, the teacher usually points out what must be observed, she provides the questions, demonstrates the methods to be used and checks the results. Students are merely asked to follow the instructions.
In this module, teachers will be encouraged to experience what it feels like to think like a mathematician or scientist, and reflect on the role shifts that are necessary for students to share this experience in the classroom. Teachers are shown phenomena and situations and are invited to pose and pursue their own questions. This experience is then transferred to the classroom.
About this Module
This module has been compiled for PRIMAS from professional development materials developed by the Shell Centre team at the Centre for Research in Mathematics Education, University of Nottingham. These materials were originally written for two projects:
- Bowland Maths is a project aimed at developing the key processes involved in mathematical problem solving, using a range of realistic and fantasy scenarios. This was funded by the Bowland Charitable Trust.
- Improving Learning in Mathematics is a project aimed at developing the understanding of mathematical concepts. This was originally funded by the Department for Education and Skills Standards Unit.
Download the print materials (links on the left) and read the main Module Guide.
Use the tabs at the top of the screen to browse the software and video which accompanies this module. (Requires Adobe Flash Player).
If you need to install the software on students' machines, without the PD material, use the links on the bottom left to choose the appropriate version.