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Inquiry-Based Learning

Critical thinking skills can be advanced through inquiry- and problem-based learning as the basis for instruction. Learning how to choose projects that pique students’ curiosity and inspire them to seek solutions is the first step for this area of teaching; their need to solve a problem will be the starting point for exploration. Providing an authentic stimulus is key. We will review criteria that can be used to determine strong vs. inferior stimuli.


Another important element in nurturing critical thinking is to create learning teams that are balanced, required the participation of all members, and find a blend of cooperation and questioning that leads the team forward. Finally, the challenge of evaluating the team efforts can be aided by the use of rubrics that look at results in both a formative manner as well as the final summary. Rubrics for the team members, too, can enhance the sense of responsibility and foster the use of teamwork. Participants will work in cross-disciplinary teams to simulate student problem-solving using an inquiry-based approach.


Key Points

  • Human knowledge is built by individual people solving problems; students engaged in inquiry-based learning gain important thinking skills on their way to discovering an answer.

  • Teachers play an important ongoing role in this style of classroom instruction, because once the wheels are in motion, the teachers need to understand when to step back and let errors have their way for a while and when to encourage and when to step in more boldly. Facilitating, shepherding, observing, and the occasional intrusion may all be parts of teaching in this style.




1.5 – 3 hours




Dr. Christine Mason, Suzan Mullane, Reem Labib


Christine Y. Mason, Ph.D., is Founder and Executive Director of the of Center for Educational Improvement. She is a nationally recognized expert in the area of educational reform, principal leadership and mentoring, and heart centered learning. She has 17 years’ experience as a yoga and meditation teacher. Mason has authored more than 100 books and articles, and given over 500 national, international, regional and local presentations. Her Ph.D. is from The University of Ohio.




Suzan Mullane has over 20 years teaching experience, Pre-K-12. Ms. Mullane is an Adjunct Professor of Education at the University of Alaska in Anchorage, has been a school counselor and helped to develop and coordinate Anchorage’s STEM initiative. She is an expert in autism, gifted education and Special Education and has conducted numerous teacher workshops on those topics as well as at-risk youth, teacher mentoring, and STEM. In 2011 she received the North Star Service Recognition Award for her work with at-risk youth in Anchorage.




Reem Labib, M. Ed., is an education consultant focused on school improvement and school reform efforts both in the United States and the Middle East. She has participated as a team member in school quality reviews for seven years, evaluating schools serving students in grades PreK-12. Labib holds a bachelor’s in psychology from The George Washington University and a master’s in education specializing in curriculum and instruction with a focus on multicultural education from George Mason University.

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