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Enquiry Based Learning. Debbie Reel & Helen Davies Newman University College, Birmingham. Aims. Why EBL at Newman University College?. ‘Enquiry-Based Learning inspires students to learn for themselves, bringing a real research-orientated approach to the subject.’

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enquiry based learning

Enquiry Based Learning

Debbie Reel & Helen Davies

Newman University College, Birmingham

why ebl at newman university college
Why EBL at Newman University College?

‘Enquiry-Based Learning inspires students to learn for themselves, bringing a real research-orientated approach to the subject.’


the research aims
The research aims
  • to determine the impact that EBL on the self efficacy of early years post Graduate students;
  • to evaluate whether the EBL process, encouraged sufficient development of knowledge and skills that would equip the student tackling the complex problems they might encounter in the real work place.
ebl module
EBL module

Extend critical knowledge and understanding in relation to teaching and learning in the Early Years

Promote an advanced level of enquiry of the pedagogical issues encountered in teaching and learning in the Early Years

Increase students depth in understanding of key issues related to key focus areas of enquiry

Enable students to formulate their own routes in learning as they research, evaluate and synthesise

proposal brief
Proposal brief

As part of the commitment to ensuring that high quality practice is achieved in all early years settings NUC is developing a series of documentaries which explores and examines current practice for 3-5 year olds. The aim of the documentaries is to raise standards and encourage practitioners to reflect on their practice and consider the underlying basis for such practice. Each documentary will examine an area of early years practice and will explore the challenges, issues and dilemmas faced by practitioners. A supporting leaflet will accompany the documentary with a description of the content and include reference to key research and publications. The documentary and the leaflet are aimed at practitioners new to teaching or new to the Foundation Stage. Both the documentary and the leaflet will be scholarly and informed.

documentary proposals
Documentary proposals

Students submitted a documentary proposal (300-500 words) that demonstrated a sound understanding of the chosen topic and indicated how they intended to examine their chosen area from different points of view with reference to relevant reading and research.

  • 10-15 minutes
  • produced using Windows Movie Maker.
  • saved in .wmv format
  • supporting leaflet
our research with the student in the driving seat
Our research with the student in the driving seat
  • Measured the impact of an increased level of student autonomy on 7 key areas:
  • motivation;
  • planning;
  • support;
  • theory;
  • time;
  • writing;
  • overall self efficacy.
sample questions from self efficacy
Sample questions from self efficacy
  • How confident are you in your ability to motivate yourself to complete the task?
  • How confident are you in your ability to set yourself realistic goals?
  • How confident are you in your ability to plan for the required audience?
  • How confident are you in your ability to understand the subject area?
  • How confident are you in your ability to critically analyse your own performance?
  • How confident are you in your ability to communicate the subject area to others?
academic intellectual and professional skills
Academic, intellectual and professional skills
  • EBL process aimed to develop research skills as students engaged in and followed their own lines of enquiry
  • EBL also aimed to encourage students to evaluate, hypothesise and synthesise rather than simply applying knowledge
  • The process demanded high levels of interpersonal, team work and communicative skills.
what was our role
What was our role?

Debbie and Helen


Technical advice and support

Could add a photo of students in computer room.

  • Facilitators
  • Meeting with groups regularly
  • Early years content
we considered ourselves to be a starting point
We considered ourselves to be a starting point:
  • Multi - agency work
  • Birth to Three
  • Children’s Centres
  • Assessment and Observation…
the first round
The first round
  • Met with much resistance
  • Was this due to our naivety and assumptions of the ‘passive’ student?
  • Was this due to the organic nature of the EBL process?
  • Was it due to the final product which did cause the students to deter from the process itself?
  • Was it due to the commitments of full time study on an extremely demanding course?
subsequent rounds of ebl
Subsequent rounds of EBL
  • Both the first and second round of research demonstrated that levels self efficacy improved
  • EYNF application tender………..
  • Improvements were more significant in the 2nd round than the first. However, motivation and support (group) still rank the lowest in terms of shifts in self efficacy
  • We have just completed our 3rd round of EBL.
  • Cronbach’s alpha scores – good reliability
  • Pre and Post design questionnaires
  • T test – there were significant differences!
where next
Where next?

Motivation and Support

  • Compulsory tutorials;
  • Mid point presentations – 5% assessed;
  • Grouping earlier;
  • Start the module in September run for longer – more sessions – shorter;
  • Change the weighting of the assessment.
why has the ebl module grown in success
Why has the EBL module grown in success?
  • Facilitating the process
  • Our research is better informed
  • ICT support stronger
  • Setting the scene
  • Time allows students to be more creative in their research areas – they are following lines of enquiry based on interests.

Successful implementation of EBL processes require a level of consciousness of the challenges to change on the part of the tutor and students.

‘… a lot of unlearning and letting go has to be done by both students and tutors before there is a genuine alignment of assessment with the principles and practices of EBL.’

(Macdonald 2005)


CEEBL (2008) Centre for Excellence in Enquiry-Based Learning. University of Manchester. [online]. Available at http://www.campus.manchester.ac.uk/ceebl/ (accessed 16 September 2008).

Lane, A., Devonport, T. Milton, K., & Williams, L. (2003) Self Efficacy and Dissertation Performance Among Sport Students Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education Vol 2, No 2

Gough, G. (2008) Encouraging groups to take responsibility for learning: First steps in EBL [online]. Available at http://www.campus.manchester.ac.uk/ceebl/resources/general/gough_EngCETLsymp2008.pdf (accessed 28th March 2008)

Khan, P. and O’Rourke, K. (2004) Guide to Curriculum Design: Enquiry-Based Learning. University of Manchester. [on line]. Available at http://www.campus.manchester.ac.uk/ceebl/resources/general/kahn_2004.pdf (accessed May 2010).

MacDonald, R. (2005 ) Assessment Strategies for Enquiry and Problem-Based Learning [online]. Available at http://www.aishe.org/readings/2005-2/chapter9.pdf (accessed May 2010)