Inquiry Based Learning in the Study Entry Phase

FideS – What’s it all about?

“Fides” is the Latin word for confidence. And this is the normative background of our project: We have confidence in a) students, their interests, and their abilities to engage in research and in b) the dynamics that are created when students engage in research right at the beginning of their student life cycle.

FideS aims to develop

  1. a set of description for different types of inquiry based learning in the student entry phase
    (When we talk about the study entry phase, we mean the two first semesters, i.e. the first year of the student’s time spent at university.)
  2. an understanding about the impact and effects of inquiry based learning in the student entry phase
  3. an understanding of the relation between digital media and inquiry based learning
  4. an epistemological approach to differences in inquiry based learning with regard to scientific disciplines
  5. a pedagogical framework for development and implementation of inquiry based learning
  6. recommendations and instructional materials for the implementation of inquiry based learning
  7. a validation procedure with national and international experts on the findings.

Project background

In 2012, the German government announced a national initiative for the qualitative improvement of higher education teaching (Qualitätspakt Lehre). Over 180 institutions were funded. Among them were development projects focusing on inquiry based learning. Our sample derived from these projects guided by a broad theoretical approach towards inquiry based learning (see below). FideS is funded as an accompanying research project to the Qualitätspakt Lehre from 2015 until 2018 and is organized as a compound of three German universities:

Research design

Data of 19 cases were identified using several methods (content analysis of websites and public documents, cooperation with other projects and the snowball principle). The projects we investigate are all focusing on the implementation of inquiry based learning scenarios in the study entry phase of higher education. They cut across nearly all disciplines (teacher education, social sciences and humanities, engineering).

Firstly, we examine documents that describe the project’s activities through content analysis of the material. Secondly, we conduct in-depth interviews with project coordinators, who plan and carry out inquiry based learning projects. The main topics of the interviews are:

  • the structure and procedure of the project,
  • reasons for the initiation of the project and
  • its development over time as well as observed learning outcomes and impacts on students.

To enable further assertions on the effects of inquiry based learning, we do not make our own longitudinal survey, but rely on evaluative data that have been collected in the projects. These materials, we will re-analyze and aggregate in a secondary study.