Inquiry based learning is the result of educators throughout

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Inquiry based learning is the result of educators throughout

     Inquiry Learning 1

    Multi-Curricular Inquiry-Based Learning

    Carl Chambers

    Education 0500: Adolescent Learning and Development

    Professor H. Hartman

    November 21, 2002

Carl Chambers November 21, 2002

    City College of the City University of New York EDUC 0500 Fall 2002

     Inquiry Learning 2

“It is not enough to merely gather information. If the individual is to understand it and learn from it, there is an

    essential, interpretive task.”

    Jerome Bruner, Psychologist

Section I: What is Inquiry learning and how is it implemented?

    Inquiry-based learning is a natural human activity in which the learner obtains meaning from experience. Traditionally, inquiry has been most readily associated with the sciences, yet it has been employed in many other fields of study as well (Martinello 1998). John-Steiner (1985) showed how creative people in the arts and sciences recall their ways of thinking. Whether implicit or implied, specific or general, all inquiries are driven by questions, issues, and wonderings. Over the past century, it has been implemented as a useful and definite approach to teaching and learning. It is an approach to learning that involves a process of exploring the

    natural, empirical, and material world, which leads to asking many questions, making discoveries, and rigorously testing them in the search for new understanding (Foundations, 2001). Using the

    tools and methods of scientists, artists, problem solvers, and citizens in society, students in an Inquiry driven classroom gain both a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them. The idea of inquiry learning itself must be subject to critical examination (Inquiry at

    University of Illinois, 2001).

    What does Inquiry-based learning look like? Inquiry based learning should incorporate a process of formulating appropriate research questions, organizing the search data, analyzing and evaluating the data found, communicating the results in a coherent presentation. The procedure an inquiry lesson follows should mirror that which experts in the subject area would pursue for Carl Chambers November 21, 2002

    City College of the City University of New York EDUC 0500 Fall 2002

     Inquiry Learning 3

    the same assignment (Foundations 2001). There are four necessary elements of successful

    inquiry according to the American Association of School Librarians (1999):

     Inquiry-based Learning asks relevant questions that come from the higher levels of

    Bloom’s Taxonomy, which are comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis. Although,

    these are only different types of possible meta-cognition, when the questions teachers ask

    are classified, they become even more significant as the teacher moulds the learning

    environment and expectations (Bloom 1957).

     Inquiry-based Learning involves questions that are interesting and motivating to students.

    Real life forever poses problems newer and more complex problems. By guiding

    students through those same scenarios we allow them to learn to solve problems in a

    supported environment with the help of their peers and their teacher.

     Inquiry-based Learning utilizes a wide variety of resources so students can gather

    information and form opinions. Because, the Internet is not the safe place we would like

    it to be, teachers have the responsibility of keeping their students away from offensive

    material and safe from others users. We can do this by selecting the sites ahead of time.

    Reviewing the links on those pages and providing a “hotlist” of sites that students are

    allowed to look for information.

     Teachers play the role as guide or facilitator. The teacher uses their expertise to guide the

    inquiry lesson. The teacher is constantly evaluating the progress of the students and the

    direction the inquiry process is taking. (American Association of School Librarians 1999,


     Inquiry-based learning is sometimes presented in terms of an inquiry cycle This is a

    model for how people engage in inquiry, such as those proposed for the process of Carl Chambers November 21, 2002

    City College of the City University of New York EDUC 0500 Fall 2002

     Inquiry Learning 4

    writing or Dewey's (1933) for thinking. Most versions of inquiry learning see a

    continuing cycle or spiral of inquiry (Bruner, 1965), one version that is shown in the

    diagram on the next page.

* This image was taken from (Inquiry at University of Illinois, 2001).

    There is caution against interpreting steps in the cycle as all being necessary or in any necessary rigid order. In fact, inquiry learning is not as much characterized by a series of steps for learning, than it is by situated learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991). This is a phrase describing

    how learning happens as a function of the activity, context and culture in which it occurs, rather than through abstract and decontextualized presentations (Inquiry at University of Illinois, 2001).

    The inquiry process is driven by one’s own curiosity, wonder, interest, or passion to

    understand an observation or solve a problem. The process begins when the learner notices

    something that intrigues, surprises, or stimulates a question; something that is new, or may not make sense in relationship to the learner’s previous experience or current understanding. Therefore, questions are at the heart of inquiry. According to D.P. Wolf (1987), there are five major types of questions: inference questions, interpretation questions, transfer questions, and questions about hypothesis: these questions are outlined by Wolf (1987) below: Carl Chambers November 21, 2002

    City College of the City University of New York EDUC 0500 Fall 2002

     Inquiry Learning 5

     Inference Questions: These questions ask students to go beyond the immediately

    available information (Bruner 1957). To push beyond the factual in this way makes the

    students find clues, examine them, and discuss and analyze which inferences are justified.

     Interpretation Questions: If inference questions demand that students fill in missing

    information, then propose that they understand the consequences of information and ideas.

     Transfer Questions: If inference and interpretation questions ask a student to go deeper,

    transfer questions provoke a kind of breadth of thinking, asking students to take their

    knowledge to new places.

     Questions about Hypotheses: Typically, questions about prediction and hypothesis are

    associated with the sciences, but they can also be employed when reading a novel. The

    students can ask questions about the text, predict outcomes, and for hypotheses about

    their reading.

     Reflective Questions: When teachers ask reflective questions, they are insisting that

    students ask themselves: “How do I know I know?” “What does this leave me not

    knowing?” “What things do I assume rather than examine?” (Wolf 1987).

    Sadker & Sadker (1985) suggest that the teacher must ask active questions to keep the inquiry lesson on task, and not be satisfied with the typical “uh-huh” response that students often

    give when quizzed. As the teacher acts as the facilitator, to the observer, there is an impression of a kind of mutually constructed improvisation unfolding (Mehan 1978, 1979). In this improvisation teachers keep questions alive through long stretches of time, coming back to them days, even weeks, after they have first been asked (Wolf 1987)

    The next step is for the student to take action, through continued observing, raising new questions, making predictions, testing hypotheses, and creating theories and communicating Carl Chambers November 21, 2002

    City College of the City University of New York EDUC 0500 Fall 2002

     Inquiry Learning 6

    conceptual models. The learner must find his or her own pathway through this process. It is

    rarely a linear progression, but rather more of a back-and-forth, or cyclical, series of events (Inquiry at University of Illinois, 2001).

    As the process unfolds, more observations and questions emerge, giving occasion for deeper interaction with the phenomena, and greater potential for a further development of understanding. Along the way, the inquirer collects and records data, making representations of results and explanations, and drawing upon other resources such as books, videos, and the expertise or insights of others. According to Callison (1999), there are four types or levels of inquiry, which are as follows:

     CONTROLLED- The teacher chooses the topic and the school and it’s library have

    enough resources to give all students the opportunity for success. This is when the

    students receive the basic skills and exercises.

     GUIDED- students work on research, usually in groups, and all students are expected to

    create the similar final products and/or reports that included similar content.

     MODELED- Students become the “apprentice” as the teacher and media specialist

    become the coach. The student has more freedom in topic selection, method, and process.

    Ideally, the teacher and media specialist model and engage in research alongside students.

     FREE- Free inquiry is when the student is on his/her own. The student is responsible for

    everything: selecting the topic, key issues, and questions to choosing the appropriate and

    unique product for an avenue to presentation and reporting. Free Inquiry is ideal for an

    independent study. Students are able to see multiple sides of an issue. Students who

    have been developing inquirers in earlier years should achieve Free Inquiry by senior

    year (Callison 1999).

    Carl Chambers November 21, 2002

    City College of the City University of New York EDUC 0500 Fall 2002

     Inquiry Learning 7

    Making meaning from the experience requires reflection, conversations, comparisons of

    findings with others, interpretation of data and observations, and the application of new conceptions to other contexts. All of this new information serves to help the learner construct a new mental framework of the world. Effective classrooms rely on many different ways of teaching science. Inquiry learning has proven to be a powerful tool in the classroom and in keeping wonder and curiosity alive in students.

    Section II: Why is Inquiry Useful, What are the Problems, and what does the research


    Many sources of information are available regarding putting inquiry-based teaching and learning into practice. Often though the father of modern inquiry-based instruction, Dewey (1916) felt that “teachers have access to a valuable set of instruments namely powerful ideas developed within the disciplines. The ideas are specific enough to illuminate the particular and general enough move beyond it”. Piaget's cognitive constructivism theory and Vygotsky's social

    constructivism theory have significant relevance to modern inquiry-based teaching theory as well. Piaget (1970) believes that children learn through personal interactions with physical events and objects in their daily lives. Piaget felt the classroom setting should provide many opportunities and practical activities that challenge a learner's prior conceptions and encourage them to reorganize their personal beliefs and theories. For Inquiry learning to succeed, it is essential for students to investigate their environment and eventually work out problems for themselves. Vygotsky (1978) believed children learn through interactions and dialogues when engaged in socially mediated activities. Although Vygotsky felt a major social interaction should be between Carl Chambers November 21, 2002

    City College of the City University of New York EDUC 0500 Fall 2002

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    an expert and the student, the teacher is there to nurture the buds, and help the students find answers for themselves.

    It is essential that the students’ disposition to view objects and events in new and imaginative ways be modeled by the teacher, who must take care to avoid being the dispenser of knowledge on one hand, or a mere facilitator on the other (Prewat 1977). There are many benefits of the inquiry-based classroom that traditional pedagogy does not bring to the classroom (Anderson 1999). This is shown in the chart below:

Traditional-Reform Pedagogy Continuum VS Inquiry-Based Pedagogy

    Teacher Role: As dispenser of knowledge Teacher Role: As coach and facilitator * Transmits information * Communicates with groups

    * Communicates with individuals * Helps students process information * Directs student actions * Coaches student actions

    * Explains conceptual relationships * Facilitates student thinking

    * Teacher's knowledge is static * Models the learning process

    * Directed use of textbook, etc. * Flexible use of materials

    Student Role: As passive receiver Student Role: As self-directed learner * Records teacher's information * Processes information

    * Memorizes information * Interprets, explains, hypothesizes

    * Follows teacher directions * Designs own activities

    * Defers to teacher as authority * Shares authority for answers

    Student Work: Teacher-prescribed activities Student Work: Student-directed learning * Emphasizes worksheets * Directs own learning

    Carl Chambers November 21, 2002

    City College of the City University of New York EDUC 0500 Fall 2002

     Inquiry Learning 9

    * All students complete same tasks * Tasks vary among students

    * Teacher directs tasks * Designs and directs own tasks

    * Absence of items in New Orientation * Emphasizes reasoning, reading and writing

    for meaning, solving problems, building

    from existing cognitive structures, and

    explaining complex problems

    The above list was taken from (Anderson 1999).

    Inquiry based learning is the result of educators trying to make learning more meaningful to the learner. It is an ambitious attempt to make students’ education more transferable to situations beyond the specific context of lessons, and more conducive to lifelong learning. When viewed from a curricular perspective, it can be seen as a process that provides opportunities for learners to engage in the practices of their lives beyond the classroom. The inquiry process is situated, personal, action-based, social, and reflective. It is a critical process that questions received knowledge, social structures, and even its own processes. Therefore, inquiry invites continual questioning of what teaching and learning actually mean, what counts as knowledge, and what meaning or action follows from what is learned (Inquiry at University of Illinois 2001).

    There are many similarities between inquiry-based learning and other curricular philosophies and models, such as project-based learning, process instruction, learner-centered curriculum and integrated curriculum. It’s roots in the West date back to Socrates, and is evident in the works of Giambattista Vico, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Lev Semenovich Vygotsky, Jean Piaget, and John Dewey (Benson & Bruce 2001). Today, many classrooms throughout America provide little evidence of real student inquiry. Learning tasks are often entirely textbook-driven, concepts packaged in tiny bits, with little opportunity for students to delve into challenging Carl Chambers November 21, 2002

    City College of the City University of New York EDUC 0500 Fall 2002

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    materials or ideas. There are many reasons for this disparity between the philosophical ideal and the enacted curriculum (Bruce, Peyton, & Batson, 1993; Labaree, 1995). There is little support for either successful practice or the continuous learning that inquiry-based learning requires (Benson & Bruce 2001).

    Inquiry-based lessons should be an essential part of a curriculum, because throughout our lives, we continue to develop simple, common sense views of the world we live in. These ideas help us function on a daily basis. We often make sense of what we see and experience only on a practical level, but this doesn’t always coincide with a more sophisticated and empirical view of the world. The earth, for instance, looks flat from our perspective; the sun appears to move across the sky. There is no real reason to think otherwise, unless we are taught to see and understand differently beyond the obvious (Foundations, 2001).

    Learners today need to develop a wider and more profound view of the world, solving problems effectively, and comprehending the deeper meanings of events that occur around them. Students’ in an inquiry learning environment are encouraged to become real thinkers, puzzle through problems, see multiple ways of finding solutions, gather and weigh evidence, and apply and test scientific ideas It is important for students to have the opportunity to experience the joy of discovery and develop scientific attitudes such as perseverance, risk taking, curiosity, and inventiveness. These skills of inquiry can ultimately equip children with the ability to function effectively as adults, both at work and in the everyday world (Foundations 2001)

    Research on the developmental experiences of creative people and studies of children’s

    questioning behaviors hold some clues to how children become productive inquirers. Typically, the worlds most recognized creative individuals have enjoyed early sustained interactions with mentors about topics and questions of personal interest (John-Steiner 1985). Through “cognitive

    Carl Chambers November 21, 2002

    City College of the City University of New York EDUC 0500 Fall 2002

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