In this US study, a deficit was found to exist in the interest and willingness of students to learn high school history. The review looked at the teaching methods and outcomes of 3 middle school teachers across the US through the use of questionnaires, interviews and observations. Not surprisingly, the authors research into teaching methods of history fond that most teaches tendered to stay with more traditional forms of teaching, however, there was a shift beginning towards more student centred pedagogy. There are two constructivist theories being adapted to history classrooms -radical constructivism, based Piaget's model and social constructivism, based on Vygotsky's social learning theory. The outcomes found that constructivist theory, in either form, coupled with inquiry based learning, was a best practise benchmark.
This is a short TEDx presentation by Russ Fisher-Ives, a US high school maths and science teacher with a background in geology. Here is gives an example of the use of 5 inquiry learning skills, namely, asking of testable questions, investigation of data, connecting the topic to the learning, discussion and reflection. Fisher-Ives argues that these 5 elements shouldn't been viewed separately, as is often taught, but viewed as a network. While he acknowledges there may be some need for high stakes testing, inquiry learning gives ownership of the topic to the students which helps them to engage more and become more active learners.
A research study was done on students teachers to measure their outcomes comparing traditional teaching methods against inquiry based learning. In their first year, student teachers were taught in teacher centred learning involving lectures and tutorials. The second year was an intensive inquiry based learning research project. The results found students felt more interested in the second year describing excitement, successful collaboration and feelings of accomplishment, more so then the first year, although there was more work involved on the students part.
A study based within a science context looks at the use of technologies used in conjunction with inquiry based learning. The paper points out a difficulty in implementing inquiry learning is that their is no benchmarks and therefore also no convenient 'step' to implement in a classroom timeline. The outcome of the research was more to implement guided inquiry by facilitating different setting and tool for student to undertake their own inquiries. The outcomes also developed five learning activities: orienting and asking questions, hypothesis generation and design, planning and investigation, analysis and interpretation, and conclusion and evaluation.
Inquiry, and inquiry learning are not new. As the author points out, in library circles at least, it has been around for decades. However, in recent years, there has been a new found interest in inquiry learning and methodologies. The author illustrates that, unlike Bloom Taxonomy that steams research from a pre determined question, inquiry emphasises a student centred, constructivist approach. The article sites the need for a uniformed approach to inquiry learning and requires a collaborative culture. School libraries are in a unique position to help facilitate a move towards more inquiry based learning. The main stumbling block toward inquiry learning is letting go of the traditional teaching controls and be willing to adventure a little into the unknown.
Project based learning is very similar to inquiry based learning in that they are both student centred. In the article, Habok and Nagy argue that traditional teaching methods and standardised testing is failing to meet the demands of the 21st century. They also contend that traditional methods do not cater to the variety of learning needs of students. The authors do acknowledge that to implement quality project based learning, there is a lot of work and effort that needs to go into it. The learning a more guided, but students have more autonomy and more involvement in the process. Through the use of a questionnaire, both elementary and secondary teachers were asked about their teaching methods. They found that although project based learning was the most favoured approach, it was not as commonly implemented. In secondary school teachers in particular, there was a fear of 'loosing control' and so keep adherence to the text book.
Chapter 32 of this text is 'Teaching for Transformation: Drama and Language Arts Education' written by Brian Edmiston. Here he advocations for teachers and students to become collaboratives researchers in networks of collaborative inquiry. He cites the works of Dorothy Heathcote drama needs to be ensemble inquiry based learning rather then individualised and that teachers need to work off the positive energy that students bring. Edmiston points out that drama is, by nature, a collaborative art form. This includes the teacher. Drama teachers are facilitators for creativity and are as much team members as team leaders.
Sir Ken Robinson, education and creativity expert, gives his insights into the way education is taught today. Although the content is based on American education, much of what he says can be see in the way education is also taught in Australia. Of particular relevance is that he points out that the arts, more then any other subject, is disadvantaged by standardised testing. The animation of the talk gives a brilliant visual illustration of education programs of the past and why this stagnated form of teaching isn't always working today. We questions whether schools are setting students up for failure by not looking at new an innovative ways to improve student outcomes.