Inquiry Learning

Final Reflection on Inquiry Learning

As I look back at my own journey throughout this semester I think I have only just begun to realize the full potential of inquiry learning and its place in 21st century learning. Compared to my initial posts, my first reflection, and the journey I have been on I think I have come a long way in my understanding of inquiry learning but also admit that there is still a long way for me to go. I hope to continue to grow in this area as a teacher and help others to understand the value in incorporating inquiry learning.

In my very new position as a Junior School Teacher Librarian, I have so far been struggling with the incorporation of inquiry learning. I believe this to be for two reasons:

  1. I am learning the ropes of a new job and all that comes with managing a library.
  2. I am finding some resistance to incorporating inquiry learning from the other teachers and therefore collaboration between myself and the classroom teachers has been strained.

With time and persistence however, I hope to be able to incorporate more inquiry learning strategies into my practice, and encourage the other staff at the school do to so as well. I feel that the teaching staff is currently frightened that I am aiming to increase their workload, rather than reduce it through collaborative planning and incorporating multiple teaching strands into one unit. I hope to be able to show them the benefits of inquiry learning through my own practices and support.

I have become particularly fond of Kulhthau’s Information Search Process (ISP) and plan to use it in my quest to bring inquiry learning to my school. I hope that the steps set forth in the ISP help me to put together a systematic approach to incorporate inquiry learning and present it to the teaching staff. I truly believe that for me to encourage and support the staff in their first inquiry learning adventure, I need to have a firmer grasp of the strategies and advantages.

As this now marks the end of my time in LCN616, my guided inquiry learning experience is at an end. I will now need to undertake my own personal, student-directed inquiry to further my understanding of inquiry learning and best practice strategies. Although this is a little daunting to me, I am excited to see what I can discover, learn, and reflect upon.

Inquiry Learning

Design

I shall now be discussing a recently designed ILA that is considered to be best practice. This unit has been achieved through careful planning and inclusion of the theories and concepts I have been studying this semester. The ILA is called Aboriginal History and Immigration and is designed for year 6 students. The creation of this unit has been achieved through collaboration with my colleagues at my school, and will be taught during first semester, 2016. The unit will span a total of 10 weeks and will answer the following key inquiry questions:

  • How did Australian society change throughout the twentieth century?
  • How did significant events throughout history impact on Indigenous Australians?
  • Who were the people who influenced changes in Indigenous rights? Why were they influential?
  • Who were the people who came to Australia? Why did they come?
  • What contribution have significant individuals and groups made to the development of Australian society?

These key inquiry questions form the basis for the design of the unit, however they are not the only questions to be answered. It is our hope that throughout the unit, students will experience numerous opportunities to explore and evaluate history, as well as opportunities to express themselves.

Firstly, a quick look at how this unit will address important areas of the Australian Curriculum – specifically the Essential Learnings:

A snapshot taken directly from the unit plan, complete with links to the Australian Curriculum Essential Learnings: English, Mathematics, Science.
A snapshot taken directly from the unit plan, complete with links to the Australian Curriculum Essential Learnings: English, Mathematics, Science.

Listed below is the progression of the unit in terms of weeks, not lesson plans. This is due to the fact that if this is to be a true ILA then flexibility in lesson planning should be encouraged. Some classes will need to spend more time on some topics than others.

WEEKLY PLAN

Week 1:
Tuning in tasks – an opportunity to introduce and discuss content; focus on statement to be used throughout entire unit, specifically the Aboriginal history theme.
Teacher directed information hunt – provide students with a list of topics relevant to unit, in pairs they need to research and record notes surrounding topics
Video – end week by viewing a video on Aboriginal Civil Rights Movement

Week 2:
‘The Freedom Ride’ (1965) – video on Discovering Democracy; class discussion and class brainstorming
Scenario response turned into a play – Scenario: “our class has been banned from using the local swimming pool because we are ‘different’ from other people. We can’t change this situation; the pool manager says the decision is final.”
Reflection – spend a lesson reflecting on scenario and feelings towards the issue

Week 3:
‘The Wave Hill Walk Off’ (1965-1967) – in small groups, students to investigate and define the issues. Regroup as a class and discuss, define issues more clearly.
Read petition to Lord Casey – discuss and then students write their own petition.
Listen to Gough Whitlam/Vincent Lingari speeches – students discuss in small groups the ramifications, future concerns, issues, and write some inquiry questions.

Week 4:
Researching – students to research 2 Indigenous persons who contributed to Indigenous rights, create profiles for these persons in whatever forms students prefer (discuss with teacher first)
Assessment item 1 – students to create a timeline and display it in anyway

Week 5:
Tuning in – revisit statement used in first round of tuning in lessons, introduce new direction for remaining weeks; focus now on migration.
Guided Inquiry – teacher to lead discussion surrounding migration to Australia, class to create inquiry questions, students will then research and answer class inquiry questions and create new inquiry questions once research is completed
Push/Pull Theory – briefly touch on this theory, have students create their own examples.

Week 6 and 7:
Investigation – students will begin to investigate the reasons for immigration, particularly to Australia; headings for investigation include: Cuts to skilled workers, European migrant contributions, Asian and African migrant contributions
Assessment item 2 – students to create interview questions and conduct interview with a migrant at some point over the 2 weeks.

Week 8 and 9:
Comparing stories – students will investigate and compare 2 different migration stories; can be from given examples or own choice. Students will display their findings in whatever way they deem appropriate
Assessment item 3 – students present their findings to the class

Week 10:
Reflection – reintroduce tuning in statement, reflect on change of perception, compare notes from previous discussions
Questioning – what other questions do we now have? Did we answer all our others?

INTEGRATED THEORIES AND CONCEPTS

Guided Inquiry:
The lesson plan and assessment items for this unit will enable students to move from Guided Inquiry (GI) to student directed inquiry. Kuhlthau’s GI is designed to complement 21st century learning, and provides a progression of skill development through careful planning to create “engaging experiences [which] make inquiry meaningful, interesting and relevant” (Kuhlthau, 2012, p.14). The initial weeks are planned so as to assist students in grasping the concept of inquiry, thus there is a significant amount of scaffolding and structuring. This support is slowly removed throughout the continuing weeks, however it is possible to continue to provide it for students that require differentiated learning experiences.

Initial lessons will be treated as “tuning in” lessons, thus providing teachers with an opportunity to introduce the curriculum content. This tuning in allows students to explore any prior knowledge and ideas surrounding the topic. It also gives teachers an opportunity to pose initial inquiry questions, and begin a questioning culture for the unit. In terms of this unit, the overarching statement that shall be continuously referred to is:

“Unless you are an Indigenous Australian, you are either an immigrant, or the descendant of an immigrant.”

Students will be asked to create mind maps on their devices in order to establish an understanding of the students’ prior knowledge regarding this topic, and to encourage questions and discussion. Each time this statement is referred to throughout the unit, students will continue to check their notes, as well as adding to them as they go. The value in this is that students can map and track their learning and understanding visually (Harper, 2012. p.49) throughout the unit.

Questioning Frameworks:
In terms of continuing with a questioning culture, or framework in the unit, students will be expected to raise questions prior to researching, as well as reevaluating their questions both during and after their research. The unit will start out with the “big questions” and will move into questions that are more history related, known as “disciplinary questions.” It is also really important that students are able to create and answer “critical questions.” We hope to achieve this by teaching students to evaluate the reliability and validity of the sources that they use when conducting their research.

Blooms Taxonomy:
In order to achieve the higher order thinking skill outlined in the revised Blooms Taxonomy, the unit will encourage students to:

  • Build on what they already know and understand
  • Apply their knowledge when creating timelines and profiles
  • Analyse the information they have to then produce questions that are significant and relevant and assist them to write their interview questions
  • Evaluate the two different migration stories to discover similarities or differences
  • Create an informative yet imaginative representation of the two migration stories

It is our hope that by following the above mentioned steps, each student should have achieved higher order thinking, and should be able to participate effectively in an end of unit reflection.

GeSTE Windows:
For the unit to achieve a progression from the Generic GeSTE Window, into the Transformative and Expressive GeSTE Windows, it is necessary to ensure that students are given ample opportunities to express themselves and their opinions surrounding any topic that is covered within the unit. For example, the ability for students to discuss and reflect on the reasons for migration to Australia, including reasons relevant to today, allows students to explore their feelings toward this contemporary issue, as well as how their own lives have been effected by migration.

FINAL REFLECTIONS ON DESIGN OF ILA

My colleagues and I hope that this unit will provide students with an opportunity to further explore their learning in a self-directed manner. By moving from Guided Inquiry into student-directed inquiry, we hope to give the students the knowledge and skills they need to successfully navigate the assessment items and create authentic learning experiences. We are excited to see how students respond to the opportunities to exercise their creativity and reflect upon their learning.

REFERENCES

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century. Westport,CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Harper, J., O’Brien, K. (2012). Student-Driven Learning: Small, Medium, and Big Steps to Engage and Empower Students. Markham, Canada: Pembroke Publishers Limited.

Inquiry Learning

Analysis

I shall now be analyzing the unit of work according to the following theories and concepts. For the purpose of this analysis, I shall be focusing on using:

  • Blooms Taxonomy
  • GeSTE Windows
  • Level of inquiry

Firstly, a quick reminder of the key inquiry questions that this unit is designed to answer:

  1. Why and how did Australia become a nation?
  2. How did Australian society change throughout the twentieth century?
  3. Who were the people who came to Australia? Why did they come?
  4. What contribution have significant individuals and groups made to the development of Australian society?

The unit progresses from teacher directed guided inquiry to student directed inquiry learning, resulting in 4 assessment items designed to demonstrate student understanding.

For clarity, I have included a quick timeline of the unit in lesson plan form:
Lesson 1:
Setting the Scene – Review Australia Day
Lesson 2:
Continuing on with Australia Day themes – includes a brief introduction to Reconciliation, respect, and understanding towards the Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people.
Lesson 3:
Nationalities in Australia – focusing on reasons for migration
Lesson 4:
Looking at the original inhabitants of Australia
Lesson 5:
The impact of the Gold Rush on Australia
Lesson 6:
Introducing Federation – locating it on the timeline according to what they’ve already discussed
Lesson 7:
Positives and Negatives of Federation
Lesson 8:
Famous people in Australian history – specifically those in politics around Federation
Lesson 9:
Major events that occurred across the states during the time of Federation

BLOOMS TAXONOMY

Image from: Andrea Hernandez's Flikr. CC BY-SA 2.0
Image from: Andrea Hernandez’s Flikr.
CC BY-SA 2.0

The unit clearly works its way through the stages of Blooms Taxonomy. Each stage is listed below, with the list of activities or outcomes that relate to each section of Blooms Taxonomy. As the different stages of Blooms Taxonomy is covered throughout the 9 lessons, the above lesson plan should clarify the order in which activities and outcomes are achieved.

Remembering: Students work their way through a series of activities designed to have them reflect on Australia Day. They also discuss the type of sources used throughout activities. Students keep a word bank in their notebooks

Understanding: Students reflect on what it means to be an Australian citizen. They also analyse and discuss the National Anthem. Students write expositions justifying the importance of Australia Day and whether or not it should remain a public holiday. They will discuss the importance of Federation.

Applying: Students will begin to investigate the nationalities represented in their class. They will research the influence that different cultures have had on Australian culture. Students will investigate the reasons for Federation.

Analyzing: Students will investigate the reasons for migrating to Australia, including comparing and contrasting living conditions. They will research the meaning of privilege in both a personal and national level. Students will discuss the reasons for Federation, including those who were for and against it.

Evaluating: Students will begin to make connections between the original inhabitants of Australia and the Gold Rush. They will evaluate migration trends to Australia during this time, and its impact on Australian colonies and original inhabitants. Students will also evaluate the restrictions placed on people wanting to migrant to Australia and the impact this had on their lives. They will also evaluate whether Federation was deemed to be for the common good or not, including why they think unity was so important to Australians at that time.

Creating: Students will organize themselves into groups to create a poster that demonstrates their top 5 reasons as to whether Federation was a positive or negative thing. They will also create a PowerPoint individually to accompany the poster. Students will also create questions designed to interview migrants to Australia. They will write a narrative based on the responses to their interview questions.

As can be clearly seen, each phase and lesson of the unit progresses through Blooms Taxonomy. The students were regularly able to achieve higher levels of thinking through the consistent use of activities that encouraged application, analysis, evaluation and creation.

GeSTE WINDOWS
First, a quick explanation of GeSTE Windows. GeSTE refers to information literacy that can be divided into the following categories:

  • Generic
  • Situated
  • Transformative
  • Expressive

It is my opinion, that the majority unit is currently placed within the Generic Window. This is due to the fact that information is:

  • External and objectified – students are not expected to create knowledge, but rather discover and take note of information.
  • Used to evaluate, manage and organize – students are required to locate appropriate information and organize it into the required assessment format
  • Learned by practicing search skills – students are given guidelines on how to locate information
  • Taught by search strategies and citing and referencing – as well as being taught how to locate the information, students are taught how to cite and reference, thus teaching them how to begin to examine the validity of a source.

Although the unit teaches students valuable search and referencing skills, it does not encourage all students to delve deeper into their learning. The assessment task requiring students to interview a migrant and reproduce their story as a narrative does allow the students to delve briefly into the Expressive Window. However, the opportunity is brief and not always achievable to all students without significant scaffolding.

LEVELS OF INQUIRY

There are many different forms and levels of inquiry. In terms of this unit, it is clear that the level of inquiry used is guided inquiry, moving into student-directed inquiry.

The unit is initially set out with 4 key inquiry questions to be answered throughout the designed learning experiences and assessment tasks. These questions are answered through carefully structured lessons and discussions. The students are then required to pose their own inquiry questions regarding the lesson topics, and undertake research to answer these questions. This occurs regularly throughout the unit, thus giving students ample opportunity to practice their inquiry skills. By placing limitations on the topics the students are required to research, the students are able to develop their questioning skills.

RECOMMENDATIONS

It is my opinion that the progression of lessons throughout this unit is a little disjointed and confusing to navigate. I would alter the order to create a more chronological progression of information, thus providing students with an opportunity to continue to build on their knowledge, as opposed to introducing events and ideologies with each new era, in a confusing order.

In terms of moving from the Generic Window to the Transformative Window, I think that students should be encouraged to question and challenge the status quo. As a unit that touches on migration to Australia, I think the ability to discuss current events regarding migration was a missed opportunity. In terms of information used to empower people, I believe that an in depth investigation into how migrating to Australia can provide people with a sense of safety and privilege is something that students would greatly benefit from. Not only would they discover how migration can transform someone’s life, but it would also project them into the Expressive Window. By learning through this window they can express themselves and discover their own privilege, rights, and fortune, as well as feeling a sense of connection.

Inquiry Learning

ILA Description

An ILA is an Independent Learning Activity that is designed to allow students an opportunity to explore their learning independently. The ILA I shall be focusing on for Module 2 is a year 6 history unit that spans 10 weeks and is called Australia as a Nation.

WHAT
The unit is based on the Australian history curriculum and is designed to do the following:

The year 6 curriculum moves from colonial Australia to the development of Australia as a nation, particularly after 1900. Students explore the factors that led to Federation and experiences of democracy and citizenship over time. Students understand the significance of Australia’s British heritage, the Westminster system, and other models that influenced the development of Australia’s system of government. Students learn about the way of life of people who migrated to Australia and their contributions to Australia’s economic and social development (ACARA, 2014)

The content provided throughout the unit is designed to help students develop their historical understanding through the use of sources, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, and significance (ACARA, 2014)

The aim of the unit is to develop students’ Historical Knowledge and Understanding and Historical Skills. These strands are achieved through the implementation of inquiry questions, particularly when using and interpreting sources.

The unit is designed to encourage students to answer the following key inquiry questions:

  1. Why and how did Australia become a nation?
  2. How did Australian society change throughout the twentieth century?
  3. Who were the people who came to Australia? Why did they come?
  4. What contribution have significant individuals and groups made to the development of Australian society?

WHO
The unit is designed for year 6 students and builds upon the Historical Knowledge, Understanding and Skills developed across the year 5 curriculum. To ensure that new students are at the same stage of development, teachers will begin the unit with a KWL chart to determine levels of understanding.

HOW
The design of the unit is as follows. Students will:

  1. Undergo initial introductory lessons to determine the level of student understand and prior learning.
  2. Work collaboratively to develop inquiry questions relevant to the task.
  3. Independently research answers to the collaborative inquiry questions, prepare their information during class time, and reference according to school guideline.
  4. Select a significant individual that played an important role in the lead up to Federation and describe the effect this person had on society at this time – to be written as a narrative (Assessment item 1).
  5. Create a list of inquiry questions to help investigate the reasons for migration to Australia in the 20th century and some of the effects on society.
  6. Create a series of questions designed to interview a migrant to Australia and learn about their migration story.
  7. Develop the information gained from the interview and produce a narrative of their story (Assessment item 2).
  8. Collaborate in groups to design a poster that states whether the Federation was a positive or negative decision (Assessment item 3).
  9. Create a PowerPoint presentation that shows the five most significant events, features, or people that shaped Australia as a nation, and ranks them from 1 to 5 – to be presented to the class, importance placed on student reasoning (Assessment item 4).

NOTE: sections taken directly from the unit document are altered slightly for ease of understanding, and to de-identify the school. The bare bones of the unit are described briefly, as are the assessment items.

REFERENCES
ACARA. (2014). F-6 /7 HASS. F-10 Curriculum. Accessed 30/10/2015. Available from: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/humanities-and-social-sciences/hass/curriculum/f-10?layout=1#page=2&yl-6

Inquiry Learning

Reflective Thoughts

Having now finished researching my initial questions,  I have a better understanding of inquiry learning. However, true to inquiry learning style, I now have more questions then when I started! Before I discuss my new questions, I will outline my information search and examine it according Carol Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP).

ISP reflection:
Initiation:
I was unsure what to expect before undertaking this assignment. I had apprehensive thoughts about how successful my search techniques would be. I was also worried by the sheer amount of information available to me, and whether or not I’d be able to sort through it all.

Selection:
The topic, inquiry learning, was selected for me. However, the specifics of the searches were left up to me and I was starting to feel more optimistic towards the task. The initial questions I soon developed were certainly good starting points.

Exploration:
Engaging with the numerous resources available regarding my search topics overwhelmed me again. I was sure I’d never find information that was relevant and reliable. However, I continued to explore, and things certainly became clearer once I had a better understanding of how to apply expert searching techniques.

Formulation:
After some exploration, I was able to begin to formulate answers to my questions. The information I stumbled across soon become more and more relevant, and I was starting to feel like my searches had more purpose and direction.

Collection:
I soon set about collecting my resources in one place, in this case Pinterest, to allow me to refer to them as frequently as needed. I found myself spiraling down further and further into resources that were appropriate for my research, thus providing more and more useful information.

Presentation:
I presented my collected information in the form of a response to one of my questions. I selected the most interesting question to me, however I know that I could have answered all 3 if time (and word count) permitted.

Commentary on my journey:
Throughout my journey, I have discovered that the information surrounding inquiry learning is vast and vague. By having my initial questions, I was able to sift through the numerous resources available to me, often refining my search multiple times before locating the exact information I needed. I learned how to use expert searching techniques effectively, and the value of using databases that provide access to academic pieces of writing.

Although I have enjoyed using Google Scholar, A+ Education, ProQuest Education, and Social Media to find information, I have no doubt that I shall continue to return to Google as my starting point. The amazing number of results that include a combination of academic and non-academic resources make it an invaluable search tool and hard to go past.

New questions:
The new questions I have regarding inquiry learning are numerous, however I have listed the 3 that I believe to be my next best starting point:

  1. Does inquiry learning significantly differ between primary students, secondary students, tertiary students, and mature aged students?
  2. How much of an impact does ICT have on inquiry learning and is it absolutely necessary to incorporate it? Are there any negative side effects to incorporating ICTs, if so, what are they?
  3. Is it best to incorporate different learning disciplines to create authentic units of inquiry? If so, how can we collaborate effectively to achieve this, while still meeting the needs as outlined by the Australian Curriculum?

Final words:
I have thoroughly enjoyed this process, and believe that inquiry learning is only becoming more popular in teaching circles, and will, with a little luck, become the most popular way of teaching in the near future. I will certainly be endeavoring to include as much inquiry into my students’ learning experiences as possible.

Inquiry Learning

Response to a question

The question:

In what way do our emotions either support or hinder student learning experiences, and how can we harness them during inquiry learning?

The rationale behind this question stems from my desire to know more about whether emotions have a negative or positive effect upon student learning. During my time as a teacher, I have witnessed students under significant amounts of pressure in their learning and it got me thinking about how much of a negative impact emotions, such as stress and anxiety, can have upon student learning. I also wanted to investigate whether creating positive emotional experiences, such as accomplishment, creates or adds to positive learning experiences.

To answer the above question, I shall be discussing the role of emotions in terms of supporting students, and how emotions can have positive or negative effects on learning and whether they are particularly pertinent within inquiry learning environments.

My response:
Pekrun et al have recently conducted qualitative and quantitative research into the effect of positive and negative emotions on student learning experiences. Their findings suggest that negative and positive emotions are experienced during learning in equal proportions (2002, p.1). Therefore, it is essential to understand the positive and negative effects of emotions on learning.

It is suggested that in order for emotions to play a positive role in learning, students need to feel supported in their learning. They must be provided with a stable emotional climate (Van Duer, 2010, p.164) and should feel able to express their emotions, particularly when referring to their learning experiences (Van Duer, 2010, p.17). This ability to express emotions is significant as there is a strong correlation between cognitive and emotional experiences (Arends and Kilcher, 2010, p.36). Thus proving that a supportive learning environment that acknowledges the influence of emotions is paramount (Parrett and Budge, 2012, p.110) to experiencing positive, meaningful, and authentic learning.

Kuhlthau et al state that “recent brain research in neuroscience further supports [the] view of learning that the brain runs on emotions that drive thoughts and actions to seek meaning through patterns and connections” (2007, p.16). Furthermore, emotions are particularly pertinent in conjunction with inquiry learning, due to the nature of information exploration and engagement.

A large part of inquiry learning that I have experienced has involved the use of collaborative learning. Jarvela (2011, p.264) states that the potential for collaboration to create learning environments that promote motivation is significantly dependent upon manufacturing positive learning experiences through careful monitoring of emotions. This potential has been significantly underutilized within my teaching context, and is something that I shall

An example of the negative effects of emotions on learning is presented by Ardens and Kilcher, and uses the fight or flight syndrome as way of an explanation (2010, p.36). It is stated that the effects of stress can have a negative impact upon cognitive learning and understanding, thus suggesting that the emotions experienced during stressful situations are, in fact, a hindrance to learning.

It is therefore, quite clear that both positive and negative emotions can have significant impact upon student learning experiences (Skinner and Belmont, 1993, p.1). The impact that emotions has on inquiry learning is also clear, the more motivated a student is about their learning, and the less anxious, the more likely the student is to engage fully in the learning experience (Kuhlthau et al, 2007, p. 16).

References:
Arends, D., Kilcher, A. (2010). Teaching for student learning. London, UK: Routledge.

Fried, L. (2011). Teaching Teachers about Emotion Regulation in the Classroom. Australian Journal of Teacher Education. Volume 36, Issue 3, Article 7.

Jarvela, S. (2011). Social and emotional aspects of learning. Oxford, UK: Elsevier.

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L., Caspari, A. (2007). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Parrett, W., Budge, K. (2012). Turning high-poverty schools into high-performing schools. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Pekrun, R., Goetz, T., Titz, W., Perry, R. (2002). Academic Emotions in Students’ Self-Regulated Learning and Achievement: A Program of Qualitative and Quantitative Research, Educational Psychologist, 37:2, 91-105, DOI: 10.1207/S15326985EP3702_4

Van Duer, P. (2010). Assessing elementary school support for inquiry. Learning environments research. Volume 13, Issue 2, p. 159-172.

Inquiry Learning

A collection of resources

Pinterest Board: Inquiry Learning Curation

I have decided to use Pinterest to curate my research to answer my first, and most interesting (to me) question:

  1. In what way do our emotions either support or hinder student learning experiences, and how can we harness them during inquiry learning?

First things first, I needed to add the Pinterest “Pin it” as an extension to my webpage:Search 22

This was a relatively simple process, and made collecting resources considerably easy.

Inquiry Learning

Expert Searching – Social Media

Due to the nature of social media, I will limit my discussion of using it as tool for expert searching to just a couple searches per platform. The two social media platforms I will be using are Twitter and Pinterest. I have also decided to limit my search to basic terminology often used around inquiry learning. I will research some of the following terms, with and without double quotation marks were possible:

  • Inquiry learning
  • Inquiry learning + Primary Students

Twitter:
I was surprised at the quality of results returned when searching Twitter. Numerous results were returned that included:

  • New stories
  • Papers
  • Thoughts – both complaints and revelations

Search 17

I found the following results to be particularly interesting:Search 19

Search 18

Editing the search to include double quotation marks did not appear to change the search results. However, the addition of a # and removing the space, turning the search into #inquirylearning, yielded far more results. The use of hashtags appear to allow users to associate their posts with other like posts, thus making it considerably easy to locate information.

Although few results were academic, it was certainly interesting to discover how popular inquiry learning was throughout different countries, and to read people’s opinions on whether or not it is the way of the future.

Pinterest:
Pinterest is a great tool for collecting and presenting information. After a quick initial search, I discovered that Pinterest had already set up selection tools to allow me to add different search topics.Search 20

I found the results returned to be relevant to my searches, however I noticed that the academic quality of the results were lacking. These results were more orientated towards quick ideas, DIYs, and posters. Nonetheless, it was still interesting to trawl through the information provided, and see different opinions on how to incorporate inquiry learning into the classroom.Search 21

Inquiry Learning

Expert Searching – ProQuest Education

I was at first, a little astonished by the number of databases offered by ProQuest. Obviously for the purpose of this blog I shall be using the Education database, however I am intrigued to return at a later date to explore the other databases.

To demonstrate expert searching techniques using ProQuest Education, I shall be researching the third and final question of my initial questions:

How can we create meaningful learning experiences that can be connected directly with students’ life experiences?

In order to ensure continuity between my previous searches and this one, I shall once again be completing a series of basic searches using the simple search option, recording the number of results, commenting on the usefulness of the search, and rating it between 1 (lowest) and 10 (highest).

Phrase Results Commentary Rating
Inquiry learning 157,639 A large number of results covering a variety of topics, most prominent being ICT and tertiary education oriented. 4
“Inquiry learning” 3,053 By introducing the double quotation marks, the search immediately returned only titles with “inquiry learning” in them. This was the first of all the searches I have completed for the double quotation marks to make a significant change to the title of the results. Results were still orientated towards ICT and older students. 5
“Meaningful learning” 9,164 All results were about creating meaningful learning experiences within the classroom. Each result was more orientated towards high school students. The results were a helpful initial search into the effect of meaningful learning. 5
“Inquiry learning” “meaningful learning” 343 Each results appeared to be focused primarily on inquiry learning, however each mentioned meaningful learning within each body of text provided. A few results were particularly helpful results in understanding the connection between inquiry and meaningful learning. 7
“Student learning” 93,595 The majority of results returned for this search were directly related to assessment to gauge student learning and understanding. Small numbers of results discussed the influence of ICT on student learning. 6
“Student learning” “meaningful learning” “inquiry learning” 246 I was surprised to receive results when using three phrases. Each result mentioned at least a combination of the two phrases. A significant amount of results were orientated towards high school students, and were related to specific learning disciplines rather than whole curriculum. 7

I have so far found ProQuest to be quite a useful search tool. By introducing Boolean Operators into the search, I was able to narrow my searches down significantly. It would appear that ProQuest, just like Google, does not need the addition of AND when typing in two separate phrases. It appears that ProQuest also treats the space as an AND. For example:

“Inquiry learning” “meaningful learning” = 343 results

“Inquiry learning” AND “meaningful learning” = 343 results, most of which appear to be similar to the previous search.

To further investigate the capabilities of ProQuest Education, I shall complete a series of slightly more complex searches using the advanced search options.

Straight away I noticed some things about the advanced search options. The inclusion of the ability to search peer reviewed texts only particularly excited me. The option to select publication dates, as well as the option to ask a librarian for help all point to a database that is designed for ease of use and maximum return of results for each search.Search 13

Search 1: The following search allowed me to narrow down my results to primary based results, and to publications within the last 10 years. The results were particularly helpful in researching the initial question, providing insight into the correlation between inquiry learning and meaningful learning within the classroom.Search 14

Search 2: In this search I specifically told the database NOT “teachers.” I first tried doing this by using -teachers, however I received a number of result that included teachers in them. I therefore wondered if certain Boolean Operators did not work within ProQuest, of if I had done something wrong. I also ensured that the search would only return peer reviewed results that have been published within the past 10 years. Despite the small number of returns, I was pleased with the quality of the result.Search 15

It is clear to me that the sheer number of resources available to ProQuest Education ensures that it is able to produce results, despite deliberate limitations to the search. I have found the search functions provided by the advanced search, coupled with the side bar to be the easiest platform to narrow searches so far.

Search 16

Finally, the search function that had me most excited about ProQuest, was the ability to save searches. As someone who regularly researches like topics, the ability to save searches and access them again quickly seems very helpful.

Inquiry Learning

Expert Searching – A+ Education

I am now feeling a little deflated after my experience with Google Scholar. I didn’t realize that my quest for answers to my initial questions would be so involved. However, from what I have heard about A+ Education, I am quietly optimistic!

To demonstrate expert searching techniques using A+ Education, I have decided to research the second of my initial questions:

How can we move from teacher directed activities to student directed activities, while keeping in mind those students with differentiated learning needs?

In keeping with my previous posts, I have decided to complete a table with some basic searches on A+ Education. I hope to demonstrate the impact Boolean Operators have upon this particular database. I will be using the simple search function, recording the number of results, commenting on the validity of the results, and rating the search between 1 (lowest) and 10 (highest).

Phrase Results Commentary Rating
Inquiry learning 2,379 Already the smaller number of results from my initial search makes me feel optimistic. The results are generally orientated towards combining inquiry learning with ICTs, however there are a number of results that are relevant to student engagement. 5
“Inquiry learning” 276 A significantly smaller number of results to the previous search. Each result did not necessarily have “inquiry learning” in to the title, each result does appear to reference an inquiry learning example used within a classroom. Reference to ICT was still the main theme among the results. 5
“Differentiation” 470 This search returned multiple results that covered all aspects of differentiation within the classroom. From adapting teaching styles for students with learning difficulties, to providing for gifted and talent students, the results covered it all. I found this particularly encouraging. 6
“Inquiry learning” “differentiation” 0 There were no results returned for this search. This was most displeasing.

However, when the double quotation marks were removed the search returned 4 results. These results were orientated specifically towards gifted and talented students only.

0
“Student directed inquiry” 1 This search returned only 1 result. It was an article that examined the student teacher’s first practicum, and how incorporating inquiry learning into their first practicum might assist in equipping student teachers to increase their teaching skills. Although an interesting read, this result was in no way helpful to research. 1
“Student directed inquiry” “differentiation” 0 This search also provided no results. Even with the double quotation marks removed, the result still returned no results. 0

So far, it would seem that more generalized research phrases within the simple search option are more likely to generate the desired results.

The following 4 searches were completed using the advanced search option, with additional Boolean Operators where necessary.

Search 1: During this search I removed all double quotation marks, thus opening up the search as much as possible. The number of results returned, and the quality of the results, caused me to be pleasantly surprised. Furthermore, the results returned covered a variety of different topics surrounding inquiry learning, teacher directed and student directed learning.Search 9

Search 2: Although only 4 results were returned, the final result was particularly relevant to the search. It discussed moving from teacher directed to student centered learning, while keeping in mind students with differentiation needs. So far I am finding it very easy to direct the search using the advanced search functions.Search 10

Search 3: After completing a third search using the advanced search options, I began to wonder if by including the terms I didn’t want the search to find, I had opened up the results instead of limiting the search. I will conduct another search in a similar way to see if the results support this assumption. The results were very pleasing and particularly helpful in a primary context.
Search 11

Search 4: The final search from A+ Education that I would like to comment seems to have supported my assumption that removing some words in the search opens up the search to more possibilities. The search returned a total of 562 results; most of which seemed to be highly relevant and informative. The first result was particularly helpful as it investigates how to support primary teachers in moving from teacher directed to student directed learning through inquiry, using the learning discipline science as the point of reference.Search 12

Initially I was unsure as to how helpful A+ Education would be in my search for information to answer my question. The initial results from the simple search function were rather disheartening. However, when I investigated the advanced search option, and included words the search was to ignore, I was surprised at the turn around of results. Of all the searches I ran through A+ Education, my final search with the most restrictions returned the most results (apart from my very first search on inquiry learning, but this was expected).

I look forward to continuing exploring A+ Education when doing further research on this topic, or in other areas of my study. I find it to be a useful resource when searching Australian educational journals.