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Enquiry based learning

An introduction to enquiry based learning

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Peter Kahn
20 July 2009

The term enquiry based learning (EBL) has been introduced in recent years as an umbrella term to describe approaches to learning driven by a process of enquiry. Learning organised in this way offers academics the flexibility to help students develop a wide range of abilities, whilst still engaging students in learning.

EBL is characterised by engagement with a complex problem or scenario that is sufficiently open-ended to allow a variety of responses from students, and by students directing the lines of enquiry and the selection of methods. It requires students to draw on existing knowledge and identify their learning needs. The aim is to stimulate student curiosity and encourage them to seek out new evidence.

There is evident overlap here with problem based learning, in which the handling of a problem defines and drives the whole learning experience of the students. But EBL also covers a broader spectrum of approaches, including small-scale investigations and project work. Aspects of research and professional practice can also provide a good basis for student enquiry.  

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