A project involving countries from all over Europe faces the challenge of developing a common terminology and a common understanding of its basic ideas. Although the roots of IBST as the main approach to improving science teaching and learning in S-TEAM lead back to the early 20th century (Minner. Levy & Century, 2009), the seminars showed that no common definition currently exists at a European level. In many of the participating countries appropriate translations of the term in the national language were not found. In S-TEAM the following definition of IBST given by Linn, Davis and Bell (2004) was chosen as a common basis for discussion:
[Inquiry is] the intentional process of diagnosing problems, critiquing experiments, and distinguishing alternatives, planning investigations, researching conjectures, searching for information, constructing models, debating with peers and forming coherent arguments.
The S-TEAM proposal described inquiry-based science teaching as being characterised by activities that engage students in:
- authentic and problem based learning activities where there may not be a correct answer
- a certain amount of experimental procedures, experiments and "hands on" activities, including searching for information
- self regulated learning sequences where student autonomy is emphasised
discursive argumentation and communication with peers ("talking science")