Inquiry-based Learning

By Adriana Hunstad

The Enhancing Undergraduate Learners’ Experience program at the University of Calgary strives to help students receive the most gratifying undergraduate experience. This fall, it will introduce the Michelangelo project to help new students understand inquiry–based learning.

"The Michelangelo project is a required U of C 101 session which will introduce new students to the skills of multidisciplinary inquiry-based learning," said eule Communications Coordinator Jennifer Myers. "The project is the first step towards implementing a comprehensive action plan for integrative inquiry-based learning into all undergraduate degree programs at all levels of study from first year through to fourth."

The name of the project came from Michelangelo Buonarroti, who was an architect, poet, artist and sculpture. His work, in which he used these different forms of art, exemplified multidisciplinary inquiry.

Traditionally, university education was based on content teaching. Some disciplines on campus are farther ahead with inquiry based learning, though eule wants to encourage the rest of the faculties to integrate this learning process in their courses.

"We are using U of C 101 as a stepping stone to this project," said Assistant to the vp Academic and Geography professor Steven Franklin. "Students will experience and reflect on what inquiry based learning is and what it will look like in the next four years. It will give students a notion of how university is integrative inquiry based."

Inquiry-based learning deals with asking good questions, finding good answers in a scholarly way, and being able to communicate it effectively.

Myers considers the project a rigorous form of learning, but very engaging. She hopes that inquiry based learning will enable students to work with other faculties on a common project, by sharing ideas to make the finest outcome. Another goal is encouraging students to think more creatively and critically, learn effective oral and written communication abilities, be able to effectively analyze problems, and gain interpretive and assessment skills.

Myers and Inquiry-Based Learning Associate Rick Vanderlee will teach this course, making it a fun, interactive session.

"Inquiry is more of a philosophy, a way of learning," said Vanderlee. "The Michelangelo Project is an institutional way to incorporate inquiry-based learning."

The project will be used within the three main phases of a degree. The Cornerstone phase begins at the U of C 101 session. This explorative stage sets all the groundwork for a student’s program. The Engagement phase occurs after the first year, where the project aids and supports further engaging and methodical inquiry-based learning in other courses. The final Capstone phase occurs in the last year of study when students integrate their learning into multidisciplinary scholastic practice.

Meyers said non-frosh students can get information about inquiry-based learning from their current faculties or through the EULE website at