Inquiry-based learning can be put into practice using a strategyThe strategy helps educators/teachers to change and improve tasks and their way of teaching in such a way that learning improves. The strategy is based on several theories:

  1. Higher order thinking skills
  2. Bloom’s Taxonomy as defined by Bloom & Krathwohl (2002)
  3. 21st Century Skills as described by OECD (2009, 2012)
  4. Two projects by Dr. Sugata Mitra: A whole in the wall, and The Da Vinci project
  5. Lecture by Prof. Eric Mazur: Turning Lectures into Learning.

The strategy is a modification of RTTI, a widely used strategy and in-service-training for teachers in Dutch schools. The taxonomy of learning activities linked to tasks is also implemented in large educational publishing companies in The Netherlands. Here it is used in the design and development of text books for mathematics and science, as well as for language and history.

Important is that we adher to the notion that the ultimate goals in education are:

(1) students acquire knowledge and skills that are long lasting. This is called Retention;

(2) students are able to apply knowledge and skills in new situations, in combination with other skills, across disciplines, and in daily life. This is called Transfer.

The strategy uses four levels of knowledge:

  • Factual knowledge  – definitions, facts, symbols, rules. What is …..
  • Procedural knowledge  – algorithms, formulas, rules, laws, procedures. What … ? How do you …
  • Conceptual knowledge  – strategies, representations. When …. ?
  • Higher knowledge  – problem solving, creation, argumentation. Why …? What if ….?

The mastering of these levels of knowledge depends on the learning activities teachers offer.
Therefore the strategy also uses four different levels of learning activities:

learning basisfiguur
Levels of learning activities

The strategy works towards teachers that are able to make or change tasks so that students learn at all levels of knowledge and work with all levels of learning activities. This way the students get the opportunity to reach the ultimate goals: rentention of knowledge, and transfer (deep learning)

Retention and Transfer pyramids
Retention and Transfer pyramids

In order to reach retention the students must have worked at three levels of learning activity. Yet, most students require all four levels of learning activity in order to get to the level of transfer.

The four levels of knowledge and the four levels of learning activities can be combined in a schema or grid. This enables you to identify the nature of tasks within the curriculum. This plotting excercise will give you insight in where and how the students spend most of their time and energy on. Afterwards this knowledge wll enable you to change tasks in such a way that you cover the whole spectrum of knowledge and learning activities.

Schema for identification, analysis and inventory of tasks


Tasks at the level of Conceptual – and Higher knowledge combined with the learning activities Apply and Integrate will be used in DaVinci2020. However, the strategy does not guarantee that the tasks are practical and hands-on. More examples of tasks where conceptual and higher knowledge are key, can be found on in «Tankespørsmål» (=inquiry-based learning activities).

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