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Kahn and O’Rouke’s work Understanding Enquiry-based learning was quite helpful in outlining the reasons behind why inquiry learning is engaging for students. While it was looking at University students rather than High School, Kahn and O’Rouke gave useful, practical exercises which are based on other academic work and previous experiences. They also cited student opinion to support their argument about the positive differences inquiry based practices made to their learning environment.
The TEDx talk by Russ Fisher-Ives is a useful relevant source to the concept of how inquiry learning creates student engagement as it looks at the 5 inquiry skills that students need for learning and how they retain student interest. Fisher-Ives talks about how inquiry learning can be achieved by teachers by making three small changes – identify the 5 skills, make these transformative for students and ask students to tell their own stories. Fisher-Ives repeatedly talks about letting students ‘tell their own stories’ a concept that resonated with me as this personal aspect is the part of more traditional learning that students often say is the most interesting. Fisher-Ives is a bombastic speaker, but his argument is sound, informed and informative.
Thomas’ work, while primarily a review of the literature that surrounds inquiry and project-based learning, is a well-written and interesting resource for teachers. Thomas takes an in depth look at the literature and research surrounding the implementation and effectiveness of inquiry based learning. Although this work is primarily concerned with the effectiveness of inquiry learning rather than the engagement, it still examines whether the research regarding inquiry learning is engaging. The only issue with this source is that it was published in in 2000, which means that it does not take into account more recent literature, however, the standard to which Thomas analyses the literature along with the problems that he finds in how the results of inquiry learning are recorded and analysed (things such as self-reporting and the halo effect which are known problems in social science research) are still useful when examining later literature. I also found that Thomas was frequently referenced by other academic work which makes his work relevant despite it's publishing date.
Murray and Summerlee's succinct and well-written article on the impact of enquiry-based learning on student engagement and performance is highly relevant to understanding how inquiry based learning can engage students in a secondary school context, despite the fact that their research was conducted in at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. This is because, while Murray and Summerlee's research was conducted amongst first year university students, their results point to the fact that it was the students who were engaged in learning together - effectively a learning community - who showed superior academic performance when compared to students learning alone. This is a theory that I haven't found in my other sources but makes sense from my own teaching practice. It is also a theory that can equally apply to secondary students who are working as a group or class on an inquiry learning based project. Therefore this source is, perhaps surprisingly, relevant to examining inquiry learning in a secondary school.
Gever Tulley's TEDx Talk is a very interesting look into the practical elements of inquiry learning. Although he never calls what his school practices inquiry learning, or project based learning, the activities that he describes and the philosophy that underpins them is almost identical. This speech was fascinating and quite moving as it showed the real life benefits of the student-centred approach the inquiry learning takes. I was particularly drawn to two statements made by Tulley in his speech that; "if you create a meaningful experience, learning will follow" and that at his school they are "trying to get the children to see the world as a place of learning". The idea that learning should be a tangible, on-going practice and engages students resonated with me in my own inquiry into how inquiry learning engages students.
Filippatou, and Kaldi’s study of the effect of project based or inquiry learning on primary school aged children with mild learning disabilities might not seem to be a relevant source. However, their study, in which 24 students with mild learning disabilities took part in an 8 week unit on sea mammals is relevant to understanding whether inquiry learning is engaging in the classroom even when it is a high school environment rather than a primary one. This is because Filippatou and Kaldi’s study took data from pre and post tests as well as surveys and student reflections. What the researchers found was that, while the inquiry learning had, surprisingly, little effect on the student’s ability to retain data, which was, as they noted, not surprising given they have poor working memory, it did engage them. The fact that most of the students felt engaged in the learning process and where more likely to change their behaviour in future based on this experience in terms of actively taking part in the inquiry process, is highly relevant as this active participation is a key element of engagement regardless of the environment in which it takes place and also that students who struggle in primary school also go on to struggle in secondary education in similar ways. Finding a way of engaging students in primary school and transferring this method to high school can, hypothetically, only have a positive impact on student learning.
While I am sceptical of Hattie’s statistics surrounding what impacts on learning and student engagement in the classroom, I was quite surprised by this video. The premise of this video is Hattie explaining why the reasons behind why inquiry learning has such a low effect size ( 0.31) when it is an approach to learning that seems to engage students and teachers. Hattie’s response that it is not the inquiry learning itself that has an effect size that is low, but the time in which teachers introduce it into the classroom. I found his answer, that students need to know the basics before they can inquire deeper, very useful in extending my understanding of my questions about inquiry learning and engaging students. This is because while it seems a rather obvious conclusion to draw, it’s something that is often overlooked. Teachers often want to know the results rather than having to deliberately think through the steps that getting that result will take or consider whether it is the right time for that next step. If the steps are taken out of order then the impact will not be as great and students will not be as engaged. My only other issue with this source is that it is quite short at just over two minutes. I will now endeavour to find a longer Hattie source that examines inquiry learning in more detail.
Full title - Standardized Test Outcomes for Students Engaged in Inquiry-Based Science Curricula in the Context of Urban Reform
This study examines the effect of the participation by an American Year 7 and Year 8 cohort in a inquiry based science unit in regards to their later state standardised testing. The cohort’s results were measured against other districts to see if there was any discernible improvement. The study showed that participating in the inquiry based units succeeded in reducing the gender gap in achievement.
While this study may not initially seem that useful to understanding how inquiry learning fosters engagement in secondary schools, the improvement seen by students and teachers is linked, by the researchers, to the engagement that inquiry learning creates and the fact that this engagement narrows and closes the gender-gap that African American boys often experience when it comes to results. Although this is based in the American education system, it is still relevant to Australia as with the increase of high-stakes testing such as NAPLAN.
This article concerns the intrinsic link between teacher motivation in inquiry learning and student motivation and perception of the task and environment. In a well-constructed and researched essay, Cheng and Ma put forward a convincing argument that without motivated and engaged teachers, inquiry learning will struggle to engage students.
This article presented an interesting view of the ways in which teachers still motivate students despite the fact that inquiry learning is seen as student centred rather than teacher centred learning. They also discuss issues around negative perceptions of inquiry learning in students and explain that with time and practice these negative perceptions can be overcome. This article is highly relevant and exceedingly interesting to those who are interested in whether inquiry learning will engage students.
Please note: This article is behind a paywall.
Using Hypermedia and Multimedia to Promote Project-Based Learning of At-Risk High School Students - Tracy Carr and Asha K. Jitendra
Carr and Jitendra's work is a single case study conducted on a small class of high school students in America who had been identified as potential high school drop outs. The work details the project based learning that students undertook and outlines the success that the students had. While is document is very interesting it does not really analyse the reasons behind the student's success and re-engagement at school except to say that it was based on the fact that students could now see that they could succeed.
While I found the article very interesting and was quite intrigued by the 8Ws approach that was undertaken by the class, I was hoping that there would be more analysis of the reasons behind the change in student behaviour which I have found in other articles.
Stephanie Lund's study on student engagement through project-based learning was both fascinating and highly relevant to understanding student engagement in inquiry learning, despite the fact her study was focused on Grade 3 rather than senior secondary.
Lund's study on a class of Grade 3 students showed the wider impact of inquiry learning on student lives and engagement both inside and outside of the classroom as she notes an increase in intrinsic motivation in students as they began to apply what they were doing in class to their home lives as well as other subjects (p69).
Although this is a primary based study rather than a secondary one, Lund's work comes to much the same conclusions as other studies based in a secondary school classroom - namely that student participation increases in inquiry classrooms and students become personally invested in their own learning.
Please note: This article is behind a paywall
Cooper's study on how the context of inquiry or project based learning impacts on student motivations was a fascinating, albeit very long ready. Cooper's study is highly detailed and well researched in its analysis of why and how the context of inquiry project influences student motivation. This is very interesting as I hadn't thought about the context in which students undertake a project based learning experience as being as relevant to their motivation and engagement as this study would lead me to believe.
Please note: This article is behind a paywall.
Lindow's adorably named thesis is a well-researched and relevant resource when examining the impact of inquiry and project based learning on high performing students. Theses very interesting to my own line of inquiry as I had predominantly been examining the impact on disengaged learners as most teachers think of high performing students as already motivated and engaged. Lindow reveals that students who are often seen as high-engaged often lack engagement on either an affective or cognitive level (p3) which can be resolved through pursuing inquiry based learning. This has extended my own understanding of my question as it now encompasses more of the student body.
Please note: This article is behind a paywall.