About the project

Project Title: Shifting Educational Practices with Inquiry-Based Learning: Aspiring To Meet The Educational Needs of Today’s Learner

A 3-years Teaching Scholars Award by the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning




My experiences have drawn me to pursue IBL as part of my research agenda in social work education. Students are engaged in their learning through a self-directed, question-driven search for understanding that affords the opportunity to explore a subject and develop central questions through their exploration. I have observed the ways in which IBL can engage students in their learning in a far deeper way than traditional teaching approaches, and I am inspired to risk and trust the process to support students to achieve the reported benefits. Yet, I know the uncertainty inherent in IBL and the fear and discomfort that can arise for first-time IBL instructors. Formalized training and institutional support can contribute to an instructor’s level of comfort implementing IBL practice. Of particular note, even instructors who have struggled with IBL implementation still reported seeing the value of the approach for student skill development. This Project intends to support faculty willing to risk and engage in IBL by providing professional development through information, resources, modeling, and consultation.

The Project

Understanding the social nature of experiential learning practices, this Project will both implement IBL in dedicated undergraduate courses through a scaffolding approach of structured, guided inquiry and open inquiry, and at the same time, offer professional development by way of in-person workshops, lunch & learns, modeling and in-person consultation to faculty new to IBL. The combined faculty and student experience with IBL provides a wealth of information to inform future pedagogical practices.

I believe that students can thrive within a supported educational context such as with the use of IBL. There is a growing body of evidence that IBL results in positive student outcomes such as increased student engagement, critical thinking, increased student confidence, and improved problem-solving skills. Skill acquisition such as interviewing, active listening, writing, communication, and working independently have been attributed to the use of IBL as pedagogy. Other studies have found increases in collaboration skills, research skills, reflective practice, and improved information/technology literacy.

Goals of the Project

  1. Contribute to the gaps in the literature including IBL empirical research in higher education, and IBL in social work education by pursuing the relationship between scaffolded IBL (structured, guided, open) in social work curriculum and social work student engagement in their learning.
  2. Provide an experiential approach to learning IBL for faculty so that they might feel supported in the successful integration of IBL within their own classrooms.
  3. Increase the number of faculty new to IBL successfully utilizing the pedagogy at the University of Calgary.
  4. Increase the level of support and resources available to faculty considering the use of IBL in their program. Support will include face-to-face consultations: planning, adapting syllabi, implementation, and challenges. Resources include an IBL instructor handbook, handouts, and videos to support the educational development of faculty who are new to IBL.

Upcoming Lunch & Learn


Inquiry Based Learning Series

Dr. Beth Archer-Kuhn is presenting a series of “lunch and learn” Zoom sessions on Inquiry Based Learning, for faculty members and sessional instructors. These sessions are open to all interested teachers, so please share in your networks.

Each online session runs from noon - 1 p.m.



Coming Soon