Inquiry-based Learning (IBL) is a student-centered approach that involves formulating questions and constructing resolutions to those questions through experience, discussion, and reflection. IBL offers a rigorous approach to “learning by doing” that builds students’ self-efficacy through active collaboration and substantive academic discourse. At its core, IBL is more than just asking students compelling questions; it is about engaging students with content in a stimulating way. By piquing students’ curiosity, IBL embodies a growth mindset that pushes boundaries through shared responsibility, active collaboration, and reflective practice.

Three young adults working on a whiteboard

Through professional learning and coaching, RTI develops and support adept IBL teachers who consistently discover new ways to think about their content areas, trigger student enthusiasm, encourage student-driven inquiry, facilitate ancillary skill development, and foster conceptual expertise.

IBL can take many forms, including project-based, model-based, issues-based, design-based, challenge-based, and problem-based learning. Encompassing all approaches, RTI’s IBL Instructional Framework, used to guide the student learning process, is described in the figure below:

IBL Graphic

Project Examples

RTI partners with innovative schools, districts, states, and organizations to address education challenges. Here we highlight two of those partnerships.

East Cary Middle School

East Cary Middle School in Wake County, NC implemented a global integration magnet theme with a focus on IBL, including the integration of IBL strategies, integration of real-world problems, and alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One teacher commented that her students

Are better understanding the concepts that I’m teaching because they developed their understanding through the process of finding solutions to global problems. 

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

For Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, tailored IBL was integrated into thirty K-12 schools and leveraged strategies contributing to sustainability, enhanced student engagement and adoption of common planning tools and resources.

Students are more engaged, have more ownership over their learning, and the topics are more personal to them. 

Inquiry Based Learning Experts

Our Education Services team is led by former teachers, principals, administrators, policy experts, and strategists who have the practical experience to translate ideas into action.

Todd Campbell

Todd Campbell

Education Consultant

Center for Education Services

Todd Campbell has more than fifteen years of professional experience in K-12 education, working with teachers and administrators to build the essential...

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Expert in Teaching and Learning

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Expert in Instructional Design


Michelle Woods

Educational Consultant

Center for Education Services

With over 18 years experience in education, Michelle Woods is a recognized authority in Project-Based Learning (PBL) and Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL)...

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Expert in Project Based Learning

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Expert in Inquiry Based Learning


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