When you are working toward educating a trusted and hard-working team, it is important to consider how your teaching approach may or may not succeed depending on their individual learning preferences. One strategy that is valuable to incorporate into a traditional education program is the inquiry method. Teams will feel more valued and invested in if they are given the opportunity to solve problems with actionable plans (that will be actually implemented) and grow together from the experience. Here are a few tips to incorporate this inquiry-based learning into your more traditional educational methods.
What is Inquiry-based Learning?
Inquiry is, of course, the act of asking questions, of being curious, of testing hypotheses and learning from the results. It has been relied upon by the scientific community for hundreds of years with great success and many technological breakthroughs. Inquiry-based learning starts by asking questions. An instructor may present a problem or scenario and request students to consider possible solutions. Once they do, instructors push them to explore the results of the proposed solution through further questions. This is a very involved teaching style where the student is lead to come to their final conclusions on their own, rather than simply presenting them with the answer. The value in this approach is in the critical thinking skills that are tested and rewarded throughout the learning process.
Inquiry and Traditional Learning Together
Traditional learning stems mostly from listening, watching, or reading about a subject or process. The experience of others or the instructor, is taken at face value and seen as the only answer to specific questions. Inquiry allows students to, in a way, teach themselves. They are brought into the problem and expected to think through to a solution. Inquiry implies trust on behalf of the teacher: trust that the students possess skills and experiences that are also relevant to the situation and trust that they are likely to have powerful insight to finding a solution, or answer. This is all done through questioning.
While some would say that traditional teaching methods might discourage the inquiry process, the two are in fact highly complementary. Encouraging your team to ask questions, to think through their perspectives, delve into insights, to offer up solutions, and to explore the results is an excellent way to empower their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Simply asking a team to memorize certain information will produce the same result time after time, but adding in an element of inquiry will provide opportunities for individuals to think deeply about real issues concerning them. This will hopefully encourage them to develop the problem solving skills that will bring great value to the company for years to come.