Health Sciences

What is IBL?

Inquiry based learning (IBL) is a student centred learning approach that promotes critical thinking and analysis, and problem solving skills. One of the best known student centred learning approaches is Problem Based Learning or PBL, IBL shares many of the attributes of PBL. However where PBL is a structured problem orientated approach IBL is more flexible and capable of adapting more easily to a variety of contexts (Feletti, 1993, Wozniak et al, 2005).

IBL begins not with a problem but with a question and enables students to experience creation of knowledge stimulated by inquiry, students become actively involved and in turn take responsibility for their own learning.


IBL model

Learning by inquiry

Group work is a key feature of IBL, together students critically reflect and collaborate to develop questions, investigate information, construct knowledge, and share understandings of information presented during resource sessions and tutorials.

IBL tutorials use scenarios based on real life cases and are facilitated by experienced clinicians, assisting students to develop skills and professional knowledge. The IBL facilitator role is to guide, organise, help, initiate and mediate the tutorial session, placing the responsibility for learning with the students.


  • Feletti, G. (1993). Inquiry Based and Problem Based Learning: How similar are these approaches to nursing and medical education. Higher Education Research and Development. 12 (2) 143-156
  • Wozniak, H. Mahony, M.J., Everingham, F., Poulos, A., & Reid, B. (2005). Inquiry Based Learning in the health sciences: Countering the limitations of 'Problem Based' Learning. Focus on Health Professional Education: A multidisciplinary journal. 7 (2) 18-30.