INQUIRY MODELS AND MY OWN INQUIRY PROCESS

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Inquiry learning has constructivist theories of education at its core. The concept of constructivism can be traced back to Socrates directing questions to his students. In the twentieth century Piaget and Dewey with their theories of childhood development paved the way for constructivism with new perspectives being added by Vygotsky, Bruner and Ausubel
(Matsuoka 2004, n.p.). The main activity in a constructivist classroom is solving problems. Students use inquiry methods to ask questions, investigate a topic, and use a variety of resources to find solutions and answers. As students explore the topic, they draw conclusions, and as exploration continues, they revisit those conclusions. Exploration of questions leads to more questions. The wide variety of Inquiry-Learning models available today hold constructivism as the underpinning philosophy.

Trevor Bond, (2010), on his website provides an overview and background on twenty-three different models of Inquiry-Learning, including his own known as SAUCE. There is an enormous amount of information available on Inquiry-Learning and most of the models have areas that overlap. However, for my own personal inquiry journey, and in particular my ISP process, the model that best fits is, The Alberta Inquiry Model (AIM), (Figure 1). This process model is theory-based and grounded in research from the fields of education and library and information studies (LIS). From education, comes learning theory and from LIS, information seeking behaviour theory (Oberg. 1999, para 5).

The similarity with Kuhlthau’s Model of the Information Search Process, (Kuhlthau et al. 1997 p, 19) is the understanding of the complexity of learning from information and the consideration of both the affective and cognitive domains. It was this dual consideration that mirrored my ISP process, as was discussed in the last blog post. The main differences between the two models however are the emphasis on reflection and the non-linear experience in the AIM.

The graphic design of the AIM has reflecting on/ reviewing the process at its core and this is an essential part of every stage of the process. The other stages all fit around this central piece, illustrated as part of a puzzle and all the puzzle pieces are equally essential to completing the overall picture. This reflects my ISP experience, it was nonlinear and recursive and the continual reflection was essential for me to facilitate deep understanding. Reviewing the Process is a critical element for helping students to understand research as a learning process and to develop their metacognitive abilities, for both ‘thinking about thinking’ and for ‘thinking about feeling’ (Alberta 2004, para. 8).

The Alberta Inquiry Model

Figure 1. The Alberta Inquiry Model (Alberta. 2004, ch.2, p.10).

The Focus on Research: A Process Approach, (Figure 2) is an instructional model of this process,  it was developed because of teacher and teacher-librarian demand and my ISP is analysed further under each of the stages. Note that for the purpose of this analysis I have added a third column to the table that lists the affective domain.

The Focus on Research: A Process Approach

STAGES

SKILLS

Planning
  • Establish Topic
  • Identify Information Sources
  • Identify Audience and Presentation Format
  • Establish Evaluation Criteria
  • Review Process
Information Retrieval
  • Locate Resources
  • Collect Resources
  • Review Process
Information Processing
  • Choose Relevant Information
  • Evaluate Information
  • Organize and Record Information
  • Make Connections and Inferences
  • Create Product
  • Revise and Edit
  • Review Process
Information Sharing
  • Present Findings
  • Demonstrate Appropriate Audience Behavior
  • Review Process
Evaluation
  • Evaluate Product
  • Evaluate Research Procedures and Skills
  • Review Process

Figure 2. Focus on Research: A Process Approach (Oberg, 1999, n.p.)

STAGES

SKILLS

AFFECTIVE

Planning
  • Establish Topic
  • Identify Information Sources
  • Identify Audience and Presentation Format
  • Establish Evaluation Criteria
  • Review Process
  • engaged
  • interested
  • curious
  • positive

In the Planning stage, students are given the opportunity to get an image of the whole research process; this was the case in CLN650 with detailed outlines for the unit, weekly overviews and links to past projects. Oberg, ( 1999, para. 11.) emphasises this getting a sense of the project as a whole supports student success. Engaging students in the planning stage is crucial. My engagement came in the form of selecting my ILA, so even though the parameters for the assignment were already laid out I was able to select content that interested me, was relevant to my experience and connected me to the world outside this subject. At this stage of the process I experienced all of the emotions listed in the affective column and the review process here involved reflective analysis in the form of questionnaire 1, and discussions on Facebook and in weekly tutorials.

STAGES

SKILLS

AFFECTIVE

Information Retrieval
  • Locate Resources
  • Collect Resources
  • Review Process
  • (information overload)—anger
  • frustration
  • fatigue
  • irritability, (leg jiggling or swearing

The information Retrieval stage is where students locate the information needed. The knowledge of information tools and systems and of search strategies are essential and again we were given the tools necessary to adequately do this in the form of demonstration, ‘how to’ videos and guidance in tutorials. My practising with these is documented in the ‘searching’, sections of my blog. Concept mapping was useful to me here to narrow down my search terms and begin to focus on what information I wanted to retrieve. Again the affective component was extremely true to my experience, (it was as if someone had been spying on me to see the frustration and swearing). This was definitely caused from”information overload” (Oberg, 1999, Para. 12.) from both researching Inquiry-Learning and coming to terms with using new technology. The review process again involved discussions and solutions on Facebook and emails back and forth to my other team members. This went hand in hand with retrospective analysis of the information I had retrieved.

STAGES

SKILLS

AFFECTIVE

Information Processing
  • Choose Relevant Information
  • Evaluate Information
  • Organize and Record Information
  • Make Connections and Inferences
  • Create Product
  • Revise and Edit
  • Review Process
  • anger
  • frustration
  • irritability
  • engaged
  • interested
  • curious
  • positive

Information Processing is really a two-phase stage that combines both the processing and creating stages from Figure 1. After selecting and recording pertinent information, the students create a research product by organizing and synthesizing their information in a unique and personal way (Oberg, 1999, Para. 13.).For me this was in the form of blog entries, particularly the essay that synthesized all the information. There were feelings of frustration at the beginning of this stage as I was still dealing with information overload and needed to further narrow my focus. Part of the review process was personal reflection on the purpose of this subject for me and discussion and feedback from my lecturer. At the end of this stage I moved back toward the feelings of positivity.

STAGES

SKILLS

AFFECTIVE

Information Sharing
  • Present Findings
  • Demonstrate Appropriate Audience Behavior
  • Review Process
  • Positive
  • Satisfaction or
  • disappointment

In the Information Sharing stage, the students present the research product in a way that is meaningful for a particular audience. There is also opportunity for the students to consider the role of the audience members in enhancing the sharing experience (Oberg, 1999, Para. 14.).This occurred with the posting of blog entries and with the valuable use of peer feedback and review. Also, part of my personal review process during this stage was to review other group members blogs which was a great experience in becoming more aware of shortcomings in my own writing and presentation of ideas. In the affective domain I felt relief that I was able to produce something coherent form the research and that the process was over for the moment!

STAGES

SKILLS

AFFECTIVE

Evaluation
  • Evaluate Product
  • Evaluate Research Procedures and Skills
  • Review Process
  • emotional literacy
  • understanding

In the Evaluation stage, the emphasis is on involving the students in the assessment of the process as well as the product of the research (Oberg, 1999, Para. 15.). The main part of my personal review process was Questionnaire 2. By this stage I was relieved to have Blog stage 1 complete and wasn’t really interested in any more reflection but the questionnaire was useful for me to examine where I had started in terms of my knowledge and how much I had progressed. I had markedly increased my emotional literacy particularly in terms of the ISP and had come to understand better my own metacognitive process.

The Alberta Inquiry Model emphasizes the affective as well as cognitive aspects of Inquiry-Learning. Information seeking is a complex process and students need to be helped to recognize as natural the waves of optimism and frustration that accompany complex learning (Kuhlthau, 1993). As a teacher-librarian I have discovered from experiencing this process myself that students need to be aware of and have coping strategies to address such phenomena as library anxiety and information overload. In my future practise I will try to help students recognise these feelings as normal parts of learning, to understand them, and to regulate them. Students who understand that their feelings are not unique but shared by others are less likely to be overwhelmed by them.

REFERENCES

Alberta.(2004). Alberta Learning. Learning and Teaching Resources Branch.

Focus on inquiry: a teacher’s guide to implementing inquiry-based learning.

Focus on Inquiry Chapter 2 p. 9 Alberta Learning, Alberta, Canada 2004 Retrieved September 8, 2012 from http://education.alberta.ca/media/313361/focusoninquiry.pdf

Bond, T (2010.) SAUCE: An Inquiry Learning Approach. Retrieved

    September 13, 2012 from http://ictnz.com/index.htm

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. And Caspari, A. (2007) Guided Inquiry: learning in the 21st century     school. Westport: Greenwood. Retrieved September 8 from     http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/index.html

Matsuoka, B.M. (Exec. Prod.)(2004). Concept to Classroom: A series of

Workshops. Constructivism as A Paradigm for teaching and Learning. Educational Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved September 13, 2012 from http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/constructivism/index.html

Oberg, D. (1999). Teaching the research process – for discovery and personal growth.

In 65th International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Council and General Conference Bangkok, Thailand, August 20 – August 28, 1999 Retrieved September 8, 2012 from
http://archive.ifla.org/IV/ifla65/papers/078-119e.htm

    

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3 responses »

  1. I need a model that allows me to go back and forth between stages and I had initially discounted Alberta’s model until I read your thorough description. I can see how reflecting at every stage allows you to then go back, for example create-reflect- retrieve-create.
    I also particularly like your reference to being able to recognise those feelings of discomfort as normal. I agree this can then break down those barriers of feeling alone when teenagers realise many others feel the same way. When I spoke to my ILA class I mentioned this feeling and the need to push through it. I have also applied this concept/process to a marathon runner in training. Before they taper off they are running up to 100km in a week and many feel ‘over it’, ‘can’t wait for it to be over’…these feelings are normal and maximum growth and ‘clarity’ will be achieved if they can persevere through this stage. Now I just need to push through my own exercise regime!

    Do you find yourself reflecting and going back through the stages often, or was your ILA process straightforward?

  2. Pingback: Reflection on Feedback « inquirylearningkb

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