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Inquiry learning and key competencies. Perfect match or problematic partners?. Rosemary Hipkins New Zealand Council for Educational Research. The spirit of change in NZC.

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inquiry learning and key competencies

Inquiry learning and key competencies

Perfect match or problematic partners?

Rosemary Hipkins

New Zealand Council for Educational Research

the spirit of change in nzc
The spirit of change in NZC
  • Learning how to learn – developing an identity as a ‘lifelong learner’ and a greater emphasis on developing student autonomy
  • School-based curriculum design is more explicit and linked to NAGs.
  • A more holistic approach – interconnected nature of knowledge
  • A more participatory view of learning

(just having knowledge is not enough – you need to be able to do things with your learning)

2007

cf. 1993

the potential match to inquiry 1
Learning to learn

School-based curriculum design

Interconnected nature of learning

A more participatory view of learning

Inquiry skills/disposition

Huge range of potential inquiry contexts

Fertile questions often span learning areas

Students active at all stages of inquiry process

The potential match to inquiry (1)
fertile questions prompt inquiry
“Fertile questions” prompt inquiry..
  • Problem solving where the solution is not already known
  • Actively questioning learning – traditional and less familiar types of questions
  • Contexts that make ‘real’ connections to learners’ lives (the outcomes/solutions genuinely matter)
  • Challenging and rich, deep topics/situations – there is much to be explored

(List based on Claxton, 2006, “fertile questions” = Harpaz, 2005)

broad parameters of inquiry learning
Broad parameters of inquiry learning

Students are actively involved in any or all of

  • Determining inquiry questions/directions
  • Finding and processing information
  • Shaping a response/report
  • Doing something with what they have found out
many types of inquiry
Many types of inquiry
  • Traditional information-based “research”
  • Many kinds of discipline-specific investigations (arts, sciences, social sciences, maths, technology, literature etc.)
  • Problem solving/ action competence projects (E4E, E4S, Health/PE etc)
problematic partners 1
Problematic partners (1)
  • Student-centered or co-constructed? (What is the role of the teacher?)
  • Grand production or horses for courses? (Does an extended time frame necessarily characterise “inquiry”?)
  • The “right” way or any way that works? (How is the process linked to purposes for inquiring?
the potential match 2
The potential match (2)

Lifelong learners (vision)

  • Literate and numerate
  • Critical and creative thinkers
  • Active seekers, users, and creators of knowledge
  • Informed decision makers

Key competencies

  • Using language, symbols and texts
  • Thinking
  • Participating and contributing
  • Managing self
  • Relating to others
slide10

Using content knowledge when making good personal decisions (P+C fore-grounded)

ARB item LW0542

How safe are your sunglasses?

Pupil reflex protects eyes from UV

Sunglasses shade eyes and so pupils dilate

If glasses are not good UV filters, more UV can then enter eye

Damage to the retina could be a consequence of wearing such glasses

Knowing the science: easy

Constructing the simple chain of reasoning: very difficult

Seeing the big picture: priceless

(NB Year 9/10 students)

slide11

Real issues don’t sit neatly in subject slots – but keeping a disciplinary focus still matters

the central alignment integration argument
The central alignment/integration argument

When students engage critically within each learning area in the curriculum, they have opportunities to develop the key competencies. By refocusing the way we currently teach, each learning area becomes a vehicle for developing key competencies, rather than the key competencies being another ‘add on’ to an already crowded curriculum.

Let’s be very clear:

KCs do not replace knowledge!

But they can powerfully transform what we can do with it!

which purposes for inquiry could be fore grounded
Which purposes for inquiry could be fore-grounded?
  • Developing inquiry skills
  • Learning to learn/fostering lifelong learning dispositions
  • Developing deeper understanding of a topic/ issue/ context/ concept/ system or etc
  • Learning about research as a process of knowledge building(the constructed and contested nature of knowledge)
problematic partners 2
Problematic partners (2)
  • Does the fore-grounded purpose impact on the role of the teacher?
  • What might evidence of learning look like when different purposes are fore-grounded?
  • How aware are students of the intended purpose(s)?
slide15

Learning how to find stuff fast on the Internet. You can find anything once you have learnt how to do it. Copy and paste. Copy and paste.

In history and physics it is more like getting facts. In English it is translating what you have found into your own words and stuff.

History taught me how to use focusing questions to scan through resources. It was useful but I only use this tactic in history.

How some students see traditional “research” inquiry

learning about history as a discipline
Learning about history as a discipline

To research like a “real historian” requires:

  • Learning to choose and evaluate sources
  • Learning to compare and contextualise multiple sources of information
  • Learning to corroborate information from different sources
  • Weaving a story based on the sources - learning to generalise (based on Wineburg, 1991)

What could support students to learn in this disciplinary frame? How might learning here differ from and/or compliment student-led inquiry approaches?

rethinking learning
Rethinking learning
  • What you already know determines what you can see (Davis, Sumara and Luce-Kapler, 2008)
  • If learning about “researching like a historian” is the focus, students should learn about the topic before they undertake inquiry activities (Stahl et. al. 1996)
  • If teachers want students to experience the differing perspectives of different sources, they may choose to locate these rather than relying on students to do so. Students still undertake an active inquiry after locating information has been done for them. (Wineburg, 1991)
what does deeper understanding look like
What does “deeper understanding” look like?

One of the hallmarks of teaching for understanding is to seek rich and multi-dimensional connections between school subject matter and students’ lives, and specifically with the initial concepts students form by their life experiences

Zohar, 2006

We would add that a related challenge is to stretch those connections, supporting students to experience less familiar ideas and contexts, and the diversity of ideas, peoples and cultures

a similar message adds the dimension of context
A similar message adds the dimension of context

Skills must be imparted in an authentic context in which learners/researchers experience them as essential for developing their understanding; dispositions must be cultivated through embodying them in ongoing behaviour, dealing with them in adequate opportunities, and experiencing intellectual activities that invite them

Harpaz, 2007

connecting questions help students build links
“Connecting questions” help students build links
  • Relating more general conceptual ideas to specific contexts
  • Making coherent links between topics and ideas within a discipline area
  • Developing multi-disciplinary links across learning areas
  • Building bridges between powerful conceptual learning and everyday life
the take home message
The “take home message”
  • Key competencies and inquiry can potentially act as a bridge between the aspirational framing of the front end of NZC and the learning areas.
  • But …teachers need to be very clear about the purposes for which they are using inquiry, and what they want their students to get out of it. If inquiry continues to be framed within traditional views of learning as “getting” disciplinary knowledge as expeditiously as possible, no “big picture” curriculum changes will actually be achieved.
references
References
  • Claxton, G. (2006). Expanding the capacity to learn: A new end for education? Paper presented at the British Education Research Association (BERA), Warwick, September 6. (Google this – it’s on the internet)
  • Davis, B., Sumara, D., & Luce-Kapler, R. (2008). Engaging minds: Changing teaching in complex times. Second Edition. New York and London: Routledge.
  • Hipkins, R. (2006). Learning to do research: Challenges for students and teachers. Wellington: NZCER Press.
  • Stahl, S., Hynd, C., Britton, B., McNish, M., & Bosquet, B. (1996). What happens when students read multiple source documents in history? Reading Research Quarterly, 31(4), 430-456.
  • Wineburg, S. (1991). Historical problem solving: A study of the cognitive processes used in the evaluation of documentary and pictorial evidence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(1), 73-87.
  • Zohar, A. (2006). Connected knowledge in science and mathematics education. International Journal of Science Education, 28(13), 1579-1599.
  • Harpaz, Y. (2007) Approaches to teaching thinking: Toward a conceptual mapping of the field. Teahcers College record, 109, 8, 1845-1874
  • Harpaz, Y. (2005). Teaching and learning in a community of thinking. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 20(2), 136-157.
  • Hipkins, R. (2006). Learning to do research: Challenges for students and teachers. Wellington: NZCER Press.
  • Stahl, S., Hynd, C., Britton, B., McNish, M., & Bosquet, B. (1996). What happens when students read multiple source documents in history? Reading Research Quarterly, 31(4), 430-456.
  • Wineburg, S. (1991). Historical problem solving: A study of the cognitive processes used in the evaluation of documentary and pictorial evidence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(1), 73-87.
  • Zohar, A. (2006). Connected knowledge in science and mathematics education. International Journal of Science Education, 28(13), 1579-1599.