Inquiry is essential to AVID, College Readiness and Science.
One of the things I find most frustrating from my kids is their inability to question. Their questions tend to be vague or low-level. One of AVID's essentials is using Costa's levels of questioning and helping students understand level 2 and 3 questions, so they can ask them as well as answer them.
I always tell my kids that they can identify the level of question depending on where the answer is found.
-Level one questions are answered entirely by the content provided. Level 1 questions are answered by skimming through the content and do not require any analysis, critical thinking, and may not even require any content knowledge. I have found that the study guides that come with the book are all level 1 questions. Students can complete the entire assignment correctly, and still have little understanding of the content.
-Level 2 questions are found in the text, but not directly. The information is implied. You have to read between the lines or apply the information that is written.
-Level 3 questions are more difficult to handle, because there may not be a "right" answer. Level 3 questions require the individual to use content information to determine the results of a more open-ended question. Basically, the only place you can look for the answer is in your head.
Looking at the AP tests, the questions are all level 2 and 3. College bound students will need to be prepared to deal with these higher level questions in high school. Since it takes time to develop solid analytical skills, it is essential they begin developing critical thinking skills at the middle level.
Inquiry is used in a variety of AVID activities. Most obviously is the left side of Cornell Notes. Another place it is useful is in having students analyze data. Rather than providing them with all the questions when they are handed a graph and say "answer these questions", try giving them the data to analyze and have them analyze the data and create a level 1,2 and 3 question about the data. Then, they need to answer the questions. After a think, pair, share, they will probably have a better grasp of the data than if they had just answered a list of fact based questions.
Probably the most obvious use of inquiry is in the scientific method, since it is founded on inquiry. However, many of the standard labs done in class "demonstrate" a topic, have standard results, and do not involve inquiry. We looked at AVIDizing our labs, turning them into inquiry-based labs. I have been doing this for the last few years, since i discovered HBLs. The idea is to take the lab and open it up to inquiry. Allow the students to create the lab design (within some parameters). Teachers then facilitate their learning. The students are more empowered, since they designed the lab, and will understand the concept better because they discovered it.