Inquiry-based Learning (IBL)


An essential characteristic of the tasks presented focus on inquiry-based learning (IBL) as a means of learning mathematics. IBL is an active learning approach to teaching and learning mathematics whereby students actively construct mathematical knowledge from the situations presented to them. There is thus more emphasis on ‘how learners come to know’ and less on ‘what learners know’. IBL is a teaching method that involves students in sense-making activities that resemble the work of mathematicians. When students are presented with tasks ‘they need to put into play their prior knowledge and a wide range of processes like, simplifying and structuring complex problems, observing systematically, measuring, classifying, creating definitions, quantifying, inferring, predicting, hypothesizing, controlling variables, experimenting, visualizing, discovering relationships and connections, and communicating’ (see PRIMAS website – link provided below). Hence, tasks require students to solve problems, design experiments, work on investigations, provide multiple solution strategies, conjecture, explore, explain, create and communicate mathematics. Students are more involved in the construction of knowledge through their active involvement. The more interested and engaged students are, the easier it will be for them to construct mathematical meanings.


Inquiry-based learning can also be done through teacher exposition by provoking students to think and question ideas presented. This perspective values teaching by asking rather than telling and learning is driven by open questions (see PRIMAS website for examples). When teachers focus on presenting evidence and information while encouraging student questioning, the classroom discourse may become a powerful means to promote students inquiry and thus more effective learning.

PRIMAS Website link:

Suggested Reading:

A short pdf document explaining what IBL is, what it means, why use IBL and tips on how teachers can learn to teach through IBL

Yet, as the following slide affirms, implementing IBL may be challenging for teachers because of the way mathematics is structured within our syllabi.

IBL may be ChallengingThe IMS approach attempts to address this aspect.

Follow these youtube links for videos on Inquiry-Based Learning

Video 1

In this video, Professor Jo Boaler works with secondary school students at the University of Sussex demonstrating and explaining how Inquiry-Based Learning can serve as an effective pedagogy for the teaching of mathematics.

Video 2

Creativity in Mathematics explores the world of Inquiry-Based Learning and seeks to identify the reasons behind its celebrated success. More than twenty-five influential teachers, top researchers, inventors, and leaders of industry attest to the life changing rewards that began for them in a classroom taught by IBL and the Moore Method.

Recent Posts

  1. Leave a reply