What is inquiry?

A definition of inquiry that represents the need of a variety of subject areas was developed by the Exploratorium Institute for Inquiry (1996): “Inquiry is an approach to learning that involves a process of exploring the natural or material world, that leads to asking questions and making discoveries in the search for new understandings.”

Four levels of student inquiry exist, ranging from low-level confirmation/verification exercises to high-level open inquiry. High levels of inquiry are sometimes achieved in classrooms when students are aware of and apply a spiral path of inquiry.

What is a Web Inquiry Project (WIP)?

A WIP is a lesson plan format promoting student inquiry. Central to a WIP is the use of uninterpreted data/information that can be found online -- that is, students attempt to answer inquiry-oriented questions by seeking and manipulating online resources. WIPs are designed to be viewed and used by teachers, however the Hook is often viewed by students as well. Keep in mind though, the more information given to students, the less inquiry-oriented the activity will be.

To learn more about the mechanics of WIPs, please go to the Overview page.

When do I use Web Inquiry Projects (WIPs)?

A teacher can use a WIP if they want to promote guided or open inquiry. They serve as roadmaps for teachers who wish to lead students through an authentic inquiry experience. WIPs help teachers in many ways. WIPs

  • get students interested in a topic,
  • provide examples of good inquiry-oriented questions,
  • describe sound methods for answering these questions,
  • and they describe ways students can convincingly present their findings.

A WIP does not run itself -- that is, a teacher cannot take her class to a computer lab and expect her students to follow the steps of a WIP and walk out of the lab an hour later having completed an inquiry-oriented activity. A WIP is used almost solely by the teacher to scaffold students inquiries. The Hook is the only component given directly to the students.

When do I use WebQuests?

Well written WebQuests promote structured inquiry. In providing up front the web resources needed to complete a predefined task using predefined procedures, students' time is used wisely.

WebQuests are used directly by students. Well-written WebQuests lead students through a scaffolded inquiry experience. Often students can complete a WebQuest with very little assistance from a teacher, because the Task, Resources, and Procedure are given.

How do I add my Web Inquiry Project to your database?

Go to the Templates page and follow the instructions there.