How We Teach Research Skills To Primary Students At OWIS

Rónán Donohoe
Published on
January 31, 2022

Research is one of the five approaches to learning skills in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP). The ability to research is a critical skill that students in private primary schools in Singapore must learn before entering higher grade levels in secondary school and university. 

Knowing how to research can help children solve problems and become functioning members of their communities. At OWIS, we teach research skills to our learners in our IB PYP Grades 1 to 5, so they have the tools they need to solve problems, think critically and become lifelong learners.

Importance of Research Skills for Primary Students at International Schools In Singapore

Having research skills helps children take control of their education and explore topics that they find interesting - regardless of whether those topics are currently being discussed in school. Children who are naturally curious can use their research skills to satiate their thirst for knowledge. The more they're able to explore topics on their own, the easier it becomes for them to develop a foundation of knowledge that will carry them into the future.

Learning to research is crucial in other ways. For example, children who learn to perform research independently also learn how to distinguish between good and bad data, ask questions that help them reach answers to their inquiries and solve their problems.

Once grown, they can carry their research skills into their years of higher study and employment. All sectors benefit from having professionals who can conduct proper research. Children who know how to conduct research grow into highly employable adults who can serve in a global economy. They're also more capable of succeeding in secondary school, which helps them become more attractive job candidates when looking for their first job.

Students who learn to research at their IB school in Singapore also learn to take notes, develop higher-level thinking and reasoning skills and how to communicate their ideas through writing. In short, students who learn how to conduct their research become better students, more poised to succeed in school.

What Are the Important Research Skills We Teach at OWIS?

At OWIS, the IB PYP is implemented in its true form, which means students enjoy both inquiry-led learning and opportunities for student agency. Research finds a role in both of these. For example, suppose a student mentions a festival day they celebrate in their home, and another student finds this detail interesting. The interested student can use this observation as a jumping-off point and will inquire about it further. They can use their research skills to attain more information about the festival day. Students learn to become critical thinkers just by observing new topics that they can apply to their research.

At OWIS, we teach the following essential research skills to our students:

  • Observation: Children between the ages of 4 to 11 years have the cognitive ability to make observations while they are playing, interacting with manipulatives or tactile materials, and in structured inquiry-based lessons as well. Research has found that primary school-aged learners have the ability to make effective, functional, social and exploratory comments, actions, and questions

    At OWIS, we teach students how to observe the world around them and also make important observations about texts. For instance, in a recent Unit of Inquiry about ancient civilisations, students in Grade 5 researched aspects of the daily lives of citizens in ancient Egypt. Using their iPads, they also explored various aspects about specific groups from society such as pharaohs, farmers and slaves which were then discussed. Finally, they created a hierarchy of society in that era. 
  • Investigation: Information is everywhere, and students must learn to sort through that information by asking probing questions. At OWIS, our teachers help students learn to ask these probing questions. They pose deep, open-ended questions to students to help them understand the value of such questioning. Teachers ask “why” and allow students to contemplate the answers. This helps students understand concepts rather than surface-level facts.
  • Veracity: Students at OWIS are taught about media literacy to understand the source of their information and distinguish between reputable and non-reputable sources. Being able to evaluate the reliability of a source can help a student arrive at the truth, even if it is hard to find.
  • Analysis: Once the information has been found, students must learn to analyse that information to gain a conceptual understanding. Teachers at OWIS guide children through this process. 
  • Recording the research: It's not enough to find the information; the data must be recorded for future use. The students at OWIS are taught to take proper notes and record their data. In primary grades, we see this output in the form of mind maps, illustrated timelines, presentations, project work and more. 

Students are taught to become better researchers through constant practice and by exploring diverse topics of interest to them.

The IB PYP culminates in Grade 5 with students preparing projects for the PYP exhibition to develop and showcase their academic skills. The exhibition is a showcase of the research skills students have developed throughout their primary years. See the results of our 2021 IB PYP Exhibition here.

Imparting Skills that Go Beyond School

Research skills are transferable into student's everyday life, interests and hobbies. By asking the right questions in class, our teachers help students see the connection between their school activities and activities outside school and show how research skills relate to everyday life.

OWIS teachers are IB-trained and able to create a learning environment that nurtures research and inquiry. Want to learn more about life at OWIS? Join a virtual tour today!


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About Author

Rónán Donohoe

Grade 4 Teacher

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