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Inquiry-Based Learning

The word inquiry is used in everyday conversations to refer to the process of answering a question or of seeking needed information. In education, inquiry refers to the way in which people ask and answer questions within an academic subject when conducting research. Inquiry-based learning is a multidimensional term that refers to three related educational processes. Inquiry-based learning includes (1) how people learn to conduct research in subject-specific educational programs (e.g., science programs, history programs), (2) a common teaching technique used by informal educators to teach hands-on programs, and (3) a professional development approach used by museum and other out-of-school educators who want to advance their teaching skills. This entry looks at the processes that occur in each of these three dimensions of inquiry-based learning.

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