Inquiry Approaches in Primary
Studies of Society and Environment
Key Learning Area
Occasional paper prepared for the
Queensland School Curriculum Council
Education, Training And Curriculum Services
1. The value of using inquiry approaches
2. Inquiry models
3. Strategies that assist inquiry
4. Sample unit plans
5. Trying it out
1. The Value of Using Inquiry Approaches
Inquiry learning is fundamental to the key learning area of Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE). It emphasises process as well as product, moving away from the acquisition of facts to the development of understandings about concepts and generalisations. Inquiry learning develops students’ investigative and thinking skills and contributes to their ability to participate effectively in society. It can also contribute to enhancing self-esteem by encouraging students to take responsibility for their own learning.
The Years 1 to 10 Studies of Society and Environment Syllabus states that “learning is most effective when students use investigative, participatory strategies”. When these strategies are organised into a structured sequence, the result is even more worthwhile. Starting with the prior knowledge and experience of students, these inquiries follow a general sequence of phases which include:
framing and focusing questions;
locating, organising and analysing evidence;
evaluating, synthesising and reporting conclusions;
possibly taking action of some sort;
reconsidering consequences and outcomes of each of the above phases.
This sequence outlines a broad inquiry process, which is reflected in the inquiry models on the following pages. The Years 1 to 10 Studies of Society and Environment Syllabus also states that “…students learn through reflective inquiry which allows [them] to revisit familiar contexts to develop more sophisticated understandings”. This...