Final Reflection

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The Past and the Present

Having reached the end of this inquiry into inquiry learning, I am feeling quite satisfied, and proud of what I have accomplished and how far I have progressed, as expected at the presentation and assessment stages, according to Kuhlthau, Maniotes and Caspari (2007, p.19).  I also feel proud of my blog, and relieved that I have been able to communicate my learning in a clear and effective manner, after feeling overwhelmed and confused earlier in the process.

I learned, first-hand, about the importance of immersion in a topic, before trying to find a focus; and also the importance of locating quality sources early in the ISP.  The location of these sources takes skill, strategy, evaluation, and time – understanding this will help to ensure I plan for effective facilitation of this stage with future classes.  I also now better understand the value and benefits of collaboration to co-construct new meaning.  Although our blogs were completed individually, there were many opportunities for collaboration with fellow Masters students at different stages along the journey, including during tutorials, and via Facebook – I really did feel like part of a community of learners.  I now feel empowered to use my new understandings about guided inquiry in future collaborative planning with teachers at my school.

At the start of this inquiry, my initial reflection took the form of 3 questions:

  • Does inquiry learning need to occur within a whole school approach in order to work effectively?

From my experience and exploration, I would suggest that inquiry learning does work best when implemented as part of a whole school approach, which would include flexible timetabling, promotion of inquiry learning, and appropriate professional development for teachers.  However, with teacher training, and careful thought, planning, and scaffolding, successful inquiry learning is still possible within a more traditional school environment.

  • Do weaker students need extra guidance and/or structure, or do they succeed by working at their own level, optimising their strengths and/or collaborating?

As pointed out by FitzGerald (2011) and others, all students require some guidance and structure when carrying out an inquiry.  As inquiries are individualised and open-ended, the ISP focuses on students’ own interests and strengths, while students work collaboratively to co-construct new understandings and develop their own skills in information literacy.  Learning through an inquiry process means that all  students benefit as they locate, evaluate, share and use information in a community of learners.

  • What kind of learning spaces best facilitate inquiry learning?

Learning can take place anywhere anytime.  Students can learn in the physical environment, whether at school or on field trips, and students can learn in the online environment.  Schools and teachers need to facilitate optimum learning opportunities in both environments.  At school, a major consideration is the provision of collaborative learning spaces, as well as a variety of learning spaces and furniture, which suit different learner preferences, moods and tasks.  Educators also need to provide online learning spaces, where students and teachers can collaborate outside class time, share ideas, ask questions, access resources, and learn from each other.  This could take the form of Facebook groups, class blogs, shared Evernote folders, and a wide variety of other online tools.

The Future

Buoyed by my new understandings about guided inquiry, I (as teacher librarian) recently approached one of the program leaders in History at my school, about collaboratively planning a guided inquiry for one program of study for next year.  The teacher was very supportive and amenable to the idea.  I am now in the early stages of planning this guided inquiry, in collaboration with the History teacher, and the Digital Literacy specialist.  I am very excited about this project, and look forward to sharing and using the information I have co-constructed through my inquiry into inquiry.

References

Fitzgerald, L. (2011). The twin purposes of Guided Inquiry: Guiding student inquiry and evidence based practice. Scan, 30(1), 26-41.

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

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. banjodog2013
    Nov 11, 2013 @ 12:43:40

    You have done a great job with your blog and it is wonderful to see how it affirms your practice and intent for the future. Your work throughout is clear and well structured. Like you I found that the learning journey I undertook through this subject, refocused my approach. I am better able to empathise with my student’s frustration level and it has reminded me to intervene more quickly. Whilst we want independent learners we need to guide them towards their autonomy.
    Thank you for such rich contributions to the group. You certainly made my passage through the course feel more manageable and supported.

    Reply

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