When I studied at university recently in History we were expected to devise guided inquiry sequences for units of work throughout the curriculum. The model suggested was IGASAR, Initiate, Gather, Analyse, Synthesize, Apply, Reflect. I development a plan that went over a four week teaching period. It was alot of work but you realise how engaging it could be, how it can be tweaked and added to over time, and the information fluency skills as well as content students would learn using this method. This has to lead to better Grades. Brown discusses building either holistic and/or analytical rubrics which can assess the process and also content, or Striplings article that uses 3 types of assessment, Diagnostic, Formative (gradually teaching students to do for themselves) and Summative at different times throughout the process. She also mentions that assessment of information fluency needs to be integrated into the assessment of content learned. Inquiry that is linked to outcomes and ‘students know how to’ will benefit students as they are more likely to remember something that they researched rather than notes taken,(or not) during a lesson where they are passive recipients of information.
As a community theatre facilitator one of the process theatre events we produced (Raven Youth Productions) was called “Eat The Mud” a performance about learning to think for yourself as opposed to being spoon fed. It was entirely produced by youth aged 13-26 with support from a small group of facilitators. The sense of pride and ownership the performers felt after the first public performance was amazing, they were so pleased that they could create something meaningful that was theatrical well produced and that they had something they could contribute to their community is so rewarding to be a part of.
I think that inquiry based learning is the same, when you can help to place the student at the centre of the learning process why would you continue to force feed students information and expect them to be interested or remember what they have learnt? So many people don’t seem to get that students will learn more from this approach, they will be engaged if it is designed well and they are given some say in how they will present the work or chose from a list of question regarding specific topics. That no it isn’t any and more difficult to mark. I have seen some great plans at a number of schools (some in senior drama others in Yr 7 GATS) in my few years of casual teaching in high schools and the students are pumped!
From my experience at university and also now having completed 2 terms of assessing quality teaching, as part of the National Partnerships Program there is a strong push towards emphasising inquiry learning and also linking information skills across faculties. It seems as if the National curriculum will also emphasise integrating information literacy across the curriculum. I have been surprised that inquiry learning wasn’t used more extensively at school and believe that it fits in with the ideals of the Quality Teaching framework.
Having the chance to work collaboratively with teachers designing inquiry sequences would be engaging, creative and make you go home with a smile on your face!
Brown, Carol, A., (2008). Building rubrics: A step-by-step process, Library Media Connection, January 2008.
Stripling, B. (2007). Assessing information fluency: gathering evidence of student learning. School library Media Activities Monthly, 23(8), 25-29.