Literature review: The role of the teacher in inquiry-based education

Marjolein Dobber, Rosanne Zwart, Marijn Tanis, Bert van Oers

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Inquiry-based education receives much attention in educational practice and theory, since it provides pupils and teachers with opportunities to actively engage in collaboratively answering questions. However, not only do many teachers find this approach demanding, it also remains unclear what they should do to foster this type of education in their classrooms. Our research question was: Which teaching strategies are used by K-12 teachers when promoting inquiry-based education in their classrooms and what are the reported outcomes?

After searching for empirical studies on this topic, we examined 186 studies investigating different ways in which teachers can promote inquiry-based education. Analyses revealed varying teaching strategies, differing with regard to direction (teacher directed, student directed and mixed) and different perspectives of regulation (meta-cognitive, conceptual, and social regulation). Results show that important teacher strategies in metacognitive regulation are: focussing on thinking skills, developing a culture of inquiry, supporting inquiry discourse, and promoting nature of science; in conceptual regulation: providing information on the research topic and focussing on conceptual understanding; and in social regulation: bridging the gap between high and low achievers, organizing student learning in groups and focussing on collaboration processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-214
Number of pages21
JournalEducational Research Review
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • Inquiry-based education
  • K-12
  • Literature review
  • Role of the teacher

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