Designing and Teaching an Inquiry 444 Seminar Approaches and Strategies Presented by Discovery Program Advisory Committee and Center for Teaching Excellence January 12, 2006
Today’s Agenda • The 444 proposal and approval process--an administrative overview • The experience of others--a conversation with 444 faculty and faculty-to-be • Course design and teaching approaches--characteristics of the INQ seminar
The INQ 444 syllabus The 444 syllabus is just like any other good syllabus--only more so. • It’s a map • It’s a contract • It reflects a “learner-centered philosophy” • It’s an invitation and introduction to Discovery
The Role of the syllabus • From Ken Jones (2000) Creating a Learning Centered Syllabus • We must make sure that our students see the syllabus as a central part of the course. At the very least, this means a careful discussion on the first day. Hammer home whatever it is that you see as the central goals for the course. If one of your goals is to make it a student-centered environment, then go out of your way to explain their role in the class and emphasize the learner’s responsibility for his/her own education. You can also engage them in the conversation by using an individual writing/small group process to surface what they see as the key components of the best class they have taken in the past. With a little luck, they will come up with the attributes of the class you have designed. • Some faculty ask students to write brief reaction paper on the syllabus in which they explain how they see their role in the class, and raise questions or fears they have. Others ask the students to review the syllabus and then use a brief content-oriented quiz on the second day to push them take it seriously. • My sense is that if we really want them to hear and to understand, we need to keep coming back to the syllabus as the course goes on. When you give them a new assignment or ask them to do something in class, be transparent: explain the link between the stated learning goals and the class structure/assignments. (This can be especially helpful if you are asking them to do something they would rather not do. Structuring it this way can make you seem like someone who has a particular goal in mind that is in their long term best interest, rather than simply being mean and insensitive.) • http://www.csbsju.edu/les/pastevents/syllabi.htm
Sample Learner-centered Syllabi http://udel.edu/~lieux/ntdt321/syllabus321.html http://www.udel.edu/physics/bduch/ http://www.usc.edu/programs/cet/private/pdfs/syllabus_nov05.pdf
Characteristics of an Inquiry 444 Seminar 1. The instructor encourages the development of multiple perspectives and involves students in a number of different approaches to the question, problem, or subject of the course. 2. The instructor works to draw students into the process of scholarly investigation; the instructor does not assume that the communication of information is the primary point of the course. 3. The course syllabus provides a road map that guides the process of increasingly informed inquiry; the reading assignments are selected to facilitate the process. Your syllabus should make it clear how an inquiry-based approach will be integrated into the course. Please be as specific as you can at this point about writing assignments and other assessment measures and include a copy of your syllabus. 4. The instructor works individually with students to identify obstacles to the student’s development as an active learner and competent communicator. 5. The course allows students to develop the ability to formulate good questions, and students learn to evaluate their questions and methods. 6. Students learn to identify and collect appropriate evidence; present results systematically, formulate conclusions, and evaluate the importance of their conclusions. http://www.unh.edu/academic-affairs/discovery/444-guidelines.html
Most Inquiry courses will focus on a particular issue or topic and use multiple intellectual frameworks for analysis, providing students with opportunities to link and compare a variety of approaches to a particular problem. Inquiry courses, that is, either should be interdisciplinary or should use multiple perspectives for examining the same questions.
1. Multiple Perspectives Resources: http://nicholnl.wcp.muohio.edu/SrWkshp/InterdiscOne.html http://www.apa.org/monitor/may99/basics.html http://www.faculty.de.gcsu.edu/~dvess/ids/courseportfolios/2310/design.htm#interdisciplinarity
2. The instructor does not assume that the communication of information is the primary point of the course; rather, the instructor works to draw students into the process of scholarly investigation. Systematic inquiry is fundamental to every field and discipline. Inquiry courses emphasize questions, perhaps presented as “working hypotheses” that then lead students to and through the process of gathering information to refine their working hypotheses. Regularly, students have the opportunity to test out their hypotheses and share perspectives with peers and the faculty member. The process of the course is characterized by discussion and debate.
2. Scholarly Investigation vs. Information Transfer Resources: http://unh.edu/teaching-excellence/resources/Activelearning.htm http://www.mcmaster.ca/cll/inquiry/whats.unique.about.inquiry.htm http://www.indiana.edu/~voyager/inquiryproject.html http://web.princeton.edu/sites/mcgraw/Scholar_as_Teacher_Asking_Good_Questions_10.html
3. The instructor thinks carefully about when to assign readings and how to present the subject of the course. The syllabus provides a road map that guides the process of increasingly informed inquiry. Course readings and other sources of information will be used to help students understand the central questions and current state of knowledge in a given field of study. More importantly, readings will facilitate the process of inquiry and exploration. They should encourage students to think about what constitutes a good question and what type of information is needed to answer that question. The instructor should not direct students towards pre-conceived questions and answers – that is, the right questions and answers that the instructor was looking for all along – but the instructor should anticipate certain stages of the course, opportunities to stop, reflect, and work towards the next level of inquiry and understanding. The syllabus should both reflect and guide this process.
3. Readings as Model for Process of Inquiry Resources: http://www.ucc.vt.edu/stdysk/essays.html http://www.ncsu.edu/firstyearinquiry/faculty_info/faculty_info.htm#What http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Italian_Studies/dweb/pedagogy/article-review.shtml http://www.cct.umb.edu/698-04.doc
4. The instructor works individually with students to identify obstacles to the student's development as an active learner and competent communicator Inquiry courses maintain a 1/25 faculty-student ratio in order to allow for the individual attention that is central to this course. Since the goal of the course is to introduce students to methods of intellectual investigation that they will use throughout their university career, it is important to attend to individual weaknesses and learning styles. Regular and individualized faculty-student contact is a fundamental expectation of the course.
4. Individualized Instruction Resources: http://www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/Learning_Styles.html(Learning styles) http://www.flaguide.org/cat/cat.php (CATs) http://www.ncsu.edu/firstyearinquiry/resources/perry_model.htm (William Perry’s model) http://www.ncsu.edu/firstyearinquiry/faculty_info/faculty_info.htm#What http://www.uiowa.edu/~centeach/tgi/ (Teaching goals inventory)
5. The course allows students to develop the ability to formulate good questions, and students learn to evaluate their questions and methods. Research suggests that first-year students enter college searching for the “right answer.” Many feel that they have the ability to learn these right answers and that higher education is really just the process of giving back the “right answers” at the right time. Inquiry-based first-year courses fundamentally challenge this orientation by emphasizing the centrality of questions in the process of learning. Thus, professors may encounter resistance from students until students recognize the value of inquiry and feel that the course provides a safe environment as the basis of “their” inquiry. Asking “good questions” is an important intended learning objective. Students should learn that the answer to any given question can change depending on the method of inquiry used to address the question.
5. Formulating and evaluating questions Resources: http://sll.stanford.edu/projects/tomprof/newtomprof/postings/175.html http://lumen.georgetown.edu/projects/posterTool/index.cfm?fuseaction=poster.display&posterID=594 http://ed-web3.educ.msu.edu/digitaladvisor/ResearchFiles/ResearchQuestions.htm http://zimmer.csufresno.edu/~samw/evaluating_inquiry_questions.htm http://acept.la.asu.edu/courses/phs110/si/chapter1/main.html http://www.mcmaster.ca/cll/inquiry/good.inquiry.question.htm
6. Students learn to identify and collect appropriate evidence, present results systematically, formulate conclusions, and evaluate the importance of those conclusions The process of inquiry directs students to seek, consider, and use or reject information as they systematically consider “their questions” or “working hypotheses.” Determining what constitutes information to answer these questions becomes a critical component of the inquiry model. Some information will be gathered from published research. Other information will be generated as a result of directed inquiries such as interviews and field studies. Enhanced oral and written communication abilities are expected outcomes of inquiry. Students should be required to write and speak coherently as they describe the process of inquiry and the results of that process. Faculty are expected to introduce students to the appropriate methods for communicating research findings, and to guide students through the process of preparing their written and/or oral presentations. Throughout the course as well as at the end of the course, students must describe their inquiry and reflect upon the results associated with their intellectual journey.
6. Presenting evidence, results, conclusions, and evaluation Resources: http://www.cxc.pitt.edu/teaching.htm http://acept.la.asu.edu/courses/phs110/si/chapter1/main.html http://gethelp.library.upenn.edu/faculty/researchassignments.html http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca/Inquiry/presentationsmaking.htm http://unh.edu/writing/writunh/faculty.html