Inquiry Based Learning
In the School of Law, we aim to provide our students with a learning experience that is shaped by strong linkages between teaching and research.
This experience includes:
- being taught by inspirational teachers who are leading researchers in the subject;
- studying a curriculum that is informed by current research topics;
- having opportunities to gain and practice research skills; and
- learning by carrying out inquiry and research, and by participating in knowledge-building in their academic and professional areas.
Inquiry-based learning (IBL) is an important element of the 'research-led' learning experience. 'IBL' describes a cluster of strongly student-centred approaches to learning and teaching that are driven by inquiry or research. Students conduct small or large-scale inquiries that enable them to engage actively with the concepts and questions of their discipline, often in collaboration with each other. Learning takes place through an emergent process of exploration and discovery.
In IBL, students:
- Learn through a process of inquiry, often co-operatively with peers and using digital technologies and information
- Apply principles and practices of academic or professional inquiry, scholarship or research,
- Engage with questions and problems that often are open-ended,
- Explore a knowledge-base actively, critically and creatively,
- Participate in building new meaning and knowledge,
- Develop ‘process’ knowledge and skills in inquiry methods and in other areas including information literacy, critical thinking, reflection and group-work,
- Gain opportunities to share their results of their inquiries with each other and with wider audiences.
IBL is an empowering, engaging approach with benefits for subject learning as well as for the development of a wide range of skills in areas including initiative, critical judgment, openness, creativity and independence of mind. Often, inquiry tasks are used to engage students with real-world problems in applied subject areas, exploring the relation between theory and practice. Students may be encouraged to share the results of their inquiries with each other and wider audiences, including through peer-reviewed publication where appropriate.
Specific examples of how we have used IBL in the School of Law can be found here:
Several of our staff have received awards and funding for their innovative teaching methods including Dr Paul Cardwell, Professor Tamara Hervey and Dr Claire McGourlay.