Kath Murdoch shares some thoughts on the the qualities of and strategies used by teachers in inquiry-based classrooms.
Australian education consultant, Kath Murdoch is an inquiry learning expert. Here she shares 10 practices for an inquiry teacher.
An introduction to Guided Inquiry Design (GID)
This 2016 literature review by Buchanan, Harlan, Bruce and Edwards, provides a thorough summary of research into inquiry learning frameworks and their impact on students. It delves into quantitative and qualitative research studies that reveal positive academic effects with relation to student learning, skill development, and knowledge, especially in Information literacy. Perhaps most importantly, it discusses affective impacts on students, especially in relation to engagement, motivation, self-efficacy, and attitudes to learning. The review highlights the lack of research into student experience of Inquiry learning and argues for further qualitative research in the area. One useful (and exciting!) inclusion in the paper is the description of the authors' expert searching techniques, including the key words they used for their re-search.
This scope and sequence of Inquiry skills mapped to the Australian Curriculum is a very useful tool for planning as a teacher and/or teacher librarian. It is both thorough and easy-to-follow and goes some way to compensating for the lack of structure and clarity around how to approach teaching inquiry skills within the Australian Curriculum. It has been developed using the framework of Guided Inquiry Design by Kuhlthau, Maniotes and Caspari; leaders in the field of inquiry learning.
This article, by Lee Fitzgerald, gives a brief overview of how the Australian Curriculum approaches inquiry learning and goes on to provide easy-to-understand information related to the planning and delivery of guided inquiry units. It essentially provides teachers with a planning scaffold to guide their approach to facilitating a guided inquiry unit with students. One section entitled, What might a Guided Inquiry task look like? is particularly useful for teachers who are not as experienced with the pedagogical approach. I believe it is an invaluable resource and am looking forward to having a go at using it to guide my students' inquiry learning experiences.
This study by Ireland, Watters, Brownlee and Lupton (2012) explored Australian primary school teacher’s conceptions of teaching in ways that foster inquiry-based learning in the science curriculum. It is quite a lengthy article, but for those interested in exploring other teacher's conceptions of what inquiry teaching 'looks' like in primary school science lessons, it is well worth the read. It could be a particularly useful tool to guide teacher reflection of their own teaching practices and how they may fit into the three categories proposed herein: 1. Experience-centered; 2. Problem-centered; and 3. Question-centered. The background and methodology section is particularly interesting for those interested in learning more about qualitative research methods, namely, phenomenography.
This Chapter by Mandy Lupton provides a clear and concise overview of Inquiry Learning, especially appropriate for those who have limited knowledge in the area. It argues that "Inquiry Learning provides a coherent and purposeful pedagogical and curriculum framework for the development of information literacy." (pg. 30). It provides a useful table (Table 2.1) comparing various information seeking models and how they align with each other. This is a particularly useful in an educational climate where different schools use different models and teachers are often transient. From a practical perspective, this chapter shares an overview of teaching strategies and techniques which provide an excellent basis for enabling best practice, particularly the section on questioning frameworks. It includes a suggestion of how to approach designing curricula that encompass inquiry learning and information literacy, namely: the generic, situated, transformative and expressive windows. It concludes with a discussion of some of the challenges associated with implementing inquiry learning.
This article addresses (and counters) the work of Kirschner, Sweller and Clark, a group of academics who consistently publish arguments against what they refer to as 'minimal instruction', of which they state inquiry learning is a part. Hmelo-Silver, Duncan and Chinn (2007) present a well-rounded argument as to why Kirschner's work is based on false assumptions and misconstrued notions of what inquiry learning is. It is included in this curated collection in order to reveal the differing views of some academics and highlight some of the challenges teachers may face.
This article is a quick and easy read provided by Mindshift, the 'educational arm' of KQED News, an American online news company. The 10 tips suggested by experienced US educator, Diana Laufenberg, gives readers an insight into the ethos of inquiry learning. It is an informal article giving suggestions and advice on how educators can approach taking on the principles of guided inquiry in their own classrooms. For those teachers wanting to know 'How', this article is a good starting point.
This blog by Queensland University of Technology academic, Mandy Lupton, is made up of what she calls "ideas & musings". It is filled with interesting and informative information about inquiry learning and information literacy. It is a little more academic (but still very easy to read) than one would expect from the casual byline, which is perfect for those after rigorous information, rather than opinion. She discusses her own research into the 'GeSTe Windows' in detail in a series of blogs, which is a very helpful tool to use in developing a deeper understanding of the scope of inquiry-based approaches.
This 2014 article from Mindshift (educational news website), provides an easy-to-read report about the positive effect of problem-based learning (a 'flavour of inquiry learning) on the outcomes of students. The article reports on the results of a study of 3000 Year 6 students in the area of Science and provides a direct hyperlink to the original research paper. It is an encouraging report which helps justify the use of inquiry-based pedagogies in primary school classrooms.
Stephanie Lund's doctoral dissertation is a description of an action research project. It provides a useful case study of what inquiry learning 'looks like' in a Year 3 classroom. It provides examples of student engagement and motivation influenced by the project-based learning unit. A particularly valuable section is where it describes the challenges students' face when being facilitated through inquiry learning processes, including group and partner interactions. It was interesting and encouraging to read that Lund believes, that "most student learning occurred during this time" (pg. 67). This analysis is beneficial to those wanting to learn more about inquiry learning and its implementation, as it sets up realistic expectations of the difficulties that may be involved in helping students' come to deeper understandings through participating in project-based learning.
This study of year 6, 7 and 8 students by Kuhn, Black and Kaplan is a slightly 'heavier' read, but makes valid and important points. A lightbulb moment for me: "We argue here that the arguments supporting its [inquiry learning] merits rests on a critical assumption. The assumption is that students possess the cognitive skills that enable them to engage in these activities in a way that is profitable..."(pg. 3). It makes it clear that using an Inquiry learning approach is not going to be smooth sailing and that students will not necessarily be ready, developmentally to participate to the extent that is intended. This article goes some way to addressing questions about what skills are necessary for students to participate in inquiry learning successfully. It concludes that the value of inquiry learning as an educational framework, "lies in its focusing attention on the forms of question asking and answering that are central to scientific thinking" (pg. 28). A connection I made was to Mandy Lupton's (2007) paper about Information Literacy in Inquiry learning; like the reasoning skills required for Scientific inquiry, information literacy is an essential component of the use of information gained through inquiry. As educators, it is important to consider the skills students need to 'do' inquiry and that they may not be quite ready for some of them.
This Australian research paper describes the results of a study of 9 primary schools in Brisbane. It involved targeted professional development for teachers and then studied the effect on student achievement. All students were taught using the same 'Inquiry Science Units', with one groups' teachers also receiving professional development related to developing a Community of Inquiry (COI). The students in the classes implementing the COI, demonstrated a significantly higher frequency of higher-order thinking questions and other inquiry behaviours. For teachers who believe that inquiry learning is just about resources or what text book you use and for those who think it is really just the 'same work in different packaging', this is a particularly valuable paper to help change those perceptions.
This is the 'meeting place' for the Australian Guided Inquiry Community. Theory and practice of Guided Inquiry, especially as it relates to the Australian Curriculum is shared here. Members are encouraged to share units of work with the community. [licensed for non-commercial use only]