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Student inquiry

What is inquiry learning?

Inquiry Learning is an active, student-centered pedagogy that enables children to experience the process of knowledge creation. 

Lipson, 2017

Students drive learning

An inquiry based approach is driven by students' curiosity about the world around them. It encourages connection, co-operation, and collaboration by allowing students to pose and solve problems together and with their communities in shared, authentic learning experiences.

The inquiry process: ask questions, investigate, process and analyse, share findings, refelect and evaluate

A model of the inquiry process

The meaning of "knowing" has shifted from being able to remember and repeat information to being able to find and use it.

National Research Council, 2007

A teacher's role and approach to inquiry learning

Kath Murdoch shares her thoughts on the strategies used by teachers in inquiry-based classrooms. Questioning and scaffolding learning is key in an inquiry approach. She emphasises the importance of teachers knowing where they want to take students within the curriculum but bringing the students interests into the inquiry.

Hillcrest School teacher, Miel MacLean and students share how learning experiences, in a student-led inquiry into Māori kites, were enriched through using technologies and publishing via a collaborative wiki.

Key resource

LEARNZ virtual field trips are free, supported inquiry based e-learning experiences that take students and teachers to places throughout New Zealand and beyond, where they link with experts to investigate and explore their world.

These snapshots of learning outline how technologies are used to support student inquiry.

MimioStudio Notebook

Students at Ashburton Netherby School used digital technologies to support an inquiry focused approach to learning.

Tags: Social sciences, Student inquiry, Multimedia – graphics/animation, Presentation, Lower primary, Primary

Hāpara Teacher Dashboard and Google Apps

Houghton Valley School trialled Hāpara Teacher Dashboard and Google Apps with their senior classes over 12 months, with a vision for improving literacy learning outcomes.

Tags: English, Student inquiry, Teacher inquiry, G Suite, Learning management systems (LMS), Primary, Upper primary

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School stories demonstrate teachers using technologies to provide personalised, authentic learning experiences relating to student inquiry.

Filter by: Primary Secondary

The Impact Project

Impact project

Miranda Makin, DP Albany Senior High School, describes how technologies have enabled students engaged in the Impact Project to take their learning beyond the school and engage with experts to find information and share their learning.

Passion projects

Passion projects

At St Hilda's Collegiate, every Year 9 student is mentored with someone from the local community and they work throughout the year on their Passion project

The Portal Unity Project

The Portal Unity Project

Year 13 student Daniel Cowpertwait describes a "mod" he has developed for an online game Portal.

Tauranga Moana Cluster

Kids Rewired – a student conference

Teacher Shelley Blakey and e-learning facilitator Sandy Bornholdt describe the inquiry process they went through with the students to develop this successful conference run by students for students.

Using digital stories to improve student literacy

Using digital stories to improve student literacy

School teacher Natasha Jacobs and students from her Year 5/6 class explain how they create a storywheel that is then digitised and supported with audio narration. 

Student led inquiry supported by e-learning tools

Student led inquiry supported by e-learning tools

A student-led inquiry into Māori kites at Hillcrest School.

Beginning to use ICTs to enhance learning

Beginning to use ICTs to enhance learning

Teacher Liz Dench and a student, from Hillcrest High School, discuss accessing how using technologies expands learning.

Students inquire into innovative learning environments

Students inquire into innovative learning environments

Team leader, Caroline Marris and year 7-8 students explain how they worked together to design their innovative learning environment.

Student holding a boardgame.

The game design process

Teacher, Chris Johnston outlines the NoTosh model design thinking model he used with his students during their game design inquiry. The inquiry enabled a cross-curricular learning approach including maths, English, and technology.


Design production education area of Rāroa Normal Intermediate School

Stephen Eames explains how the physical learning spaces contribute to success at Rāroa Normal Intermediate School.

Staff talking.

Professional development at Rāroa Normal Intermediate School

Stephen Eames shares how teachers are supported to collaborate at Rāroa Normal Intermediate School.

Teacher with student and parent.

Building relationships to motivate students

Dave Gillies shares approaches used at Rāroa Intermediate Normal School to get to know their learners.

Students skateboarding.

Designing learning built on student interests

Dave Gillies shares how teachers connected student interest in skateboarding to the curriculum.

Learning space.

Design production teaching: Collaborating with classroom teachers to integrate learning

Chris Bailey explains how working alongside other teachers and students creates opportunities for integrated learning.

Student at computer.

The design production learning space at Rāroa Normal Intermediate School

Chris Bailey shares how a dedicated learning space for design production helps students to collaborate on a variety of activities.

3D software on computer screen.

Using technology in authentic contexts to engage at-risk learners

Chris Bailey and Dave Gillies share how they build rapport with students and make learning enjoyable for them.

Parent using reporting app.

Connecting with parents and whānau using real-time reporting

Caroline Moore, parent, shares how real-time reporting deepens the connections between home, school, and learner.

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Key resource

Inquiry based learning
In this EDtalk Jan-Marie Kellow talks about how inquiry based learning provides an excellent context for developing students’ thinking skills.

NZCER logo

Student inquiry and curriculum integration (Part A)
the first of two articles about student inquiry and curriculum integration. The aim is to help educators consider the ideas about learning that underpin different integrated and inquiry approaches and their fit with ideas in The New Zealand Curriculum.

What is Inquiry?
Information, research results, and resources about inquiry learning compiled by Jan-Marie Kellow during her time as a Ministry of Education e-learning fellow and updated from her ongoing work.