Content Area
Inquiry-based learning -- McGraw Hill ANZ

Research paper: Why Inquiry-based Approaches Harm Students’ Learning

Why Inquiry-based Approaches Harm Students’ Learning is the title of a paper published this month by University of NSW Emeritus Professor John Sweller. In this paper, Sweller shows that there is a relationship between the "increased emphasis on inquiry learning over explicit instruction" and reduced academic performance (Sweller, 2021). 

Using Cognitive Load Theory, Sweller illustrates how inquiry-based learning has failed. 


"As far as can be seen, inquiry learning neither teaches us how to inquire nor helps us acquire other knowledge deemed important in the curriculum."

(Sweller, 2021, pg. 8) 


Noel Pearson, founder of Good to Great Schools, was quick to evaluate Sweller’s paper. In a recent article published in the SMH titled Schools paper ends teaching debate once and for always, Pearson states that this is "one of the most important papers on the subject of student learning". This is because Sweller provides further research to indicate that more progress can be achieved when explicit instruction is favoured over inquiry-based learning (Pearson, 12:00AM August 14, 2021).  


Read more about Good to Great Schools work with explicit instruction.

Learn more about our Direct Instruction programs here or contact your Education Consultant. 

23 August 2021