The MYP is all about inquiry-based learning but how much of it goes on in your diploma chemistry. ‘I don’t have enough time‘ is a commonly heard sentence in workshops. ‘I can only just cover the content in the time I had, let alone fit in something extra’.

Well, if you do it right, inquiry-based learning it should help you to gain a bit of time.

First of all, I am sure many readers teach DP chemistry but not necessarily MYP science, so what do we mean by inquiry-based learning?

Inquiry-based learning is a form of active learning that starts by posing questions, problems or scenarios – rather than simply presenting established facts or portraying a smooth path to knowledge1.

This means that you can use your ‘problems’ to teach some aspects of the course.

For example, some ‘unknown’ organic substances to teach some organic chemistry through chemical tests on these substances.

Or by investigating electrolysis by changing the type of electrolyte and concentration of electrolyte to come up with some rules for deciding which ions are discharged.

The important thing is that this is probably something that is not new to you, it is just a new way of teaching about it.

The advantages of inquiry-based learning is that students take responsibility for what and how they learn by building and developing skills.

Students will research their own areas of interest, utilise knowledge and apply it to real-world contexts and engage more as they take ownership of their learning.

It also allows students to work at a pace suited to their ability, allowing for differentiated learning to take place more easily.

Group work also helps students see other points of view and build skills such as communication and working with others.

However, there are also some things you need to think about as well (could we call these disadvantages?)

Potentially poorer performance on tests.

Student unpreparedness and teacher unpreparedness – you do need to think about what you are going to do and plan ahead.

The assessment can be time-consuming and the lab work can contain varying degrees of relevance and applicability.

However, in my opinion, the main advantage of inquiry-based learning is that it prepares the students well for the IA and also if they are interested in following an EE in chemistry.

The following YouTube clip may also give you some ideas:

Do you carry out inquiry-based learning in your school?

If so, what do you do and how do you do it? It would be great if you could share your ideas and thoughts with us all.