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Inquiry Learning – a summation

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I end this blog in the way I began with a wordle that sums up my knowledge of Inquiry Learning and as you can see this one has a lot more words than the first.

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REFLECTION ON GIVING AND RECIEVEING FEEDBACK #2

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The experience of giving and receiving feedback has been somewhat different the second time around for two reasons. Firstly we are all at different stages of completion with Kym having finished her posts and Heidee still working through the data analysis stage. Secondly, now that we have all received formal feedback from our lecturer we have a greater understanding of where our strengths and weaknesses are and are more confident to ask our group members for feedback on specific areas.

As with Blog Stage 1, giving and receiving feedback from my peers whilst working on this subject was a valuable way to feel less disconnected. I was able to take a step back from my own work and focus on what others were doing. This allowed me to confirm that I was on the right track and the opportunity to review other group member’s blogs was a great experience in becoming more aware of shortcomings in my own writing and presentation of ideas. I was particularly impressed with Heidee’s writing style as she seemed to be writing with an awareness of an audience wider than just that of other students doing this subject. Acronyms she used were explained, and in her posts prior knowledge was not assumed. After reading her blog I tried to ‘clean up’ my blog posts so that if someone read one in isolation they would not need to read the whole blog to know what I was talking about. I also included references at the end of each post for the same reason.

Kym had been disappointed with her mark from blog stage 1 and with this in mind I tried to give her very direct feedback if I thought she was missing something important from her posts. I still phrased this in a positive way (which is an ingrained teacher thing that is difficult not to do) but would directly ask: What about this? Have you considered this? There were some posts that I couldn’t find and she was going to check her blog to make sure they were visible and clearly labelled. Kym’s feedback to me usually ended with a question or point that would give me cause for reflection and begin a conversational thread which was great as I enjoy the interactive aspect of a blog. My main form of feedback to Kym and Heidee this time was in the form of editing their work. As their writing was of a high standard I felt like I had little to contribute in terms of ideas so I proofed their work to pick up on typos, spelling and grammatical errors. This was relatively quick and easy for me to do being an English teacher and both of them were appreciative of my efforts.

The formal feedback I received from Mandy on my video pointed out that more information on recommendations would be valuable and I was able to ensure that I gave that extra consideration when writing up that post in Blog Stage 2. The opportunity to review other students work and receive feedback on mine was particularly valuable as it gave opportunity for reflection which is essential for me to construct knowledge and meaning and improve my writing and presentation skills.

FEEDBACK REFLECTION #1

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As an external student it is not difficult to feel somewhat detached from University life. As you sit working away on your computer at home you become cocooned in your own thoughts and experiences. Giving and receiving feedback from my peers whilst working on this subject was a valuable way to feel less disconnected. I was able to take a step back from my own work and focus on what others were doing. This allowed me to confirm that I was on the right track and the opportunity to review other group member’s blogs was a great experience in becoming more aware of shortcomings in my own writing and presentation of ideas. The informal feedback process that I engaged in with my group members , emailing each other and discussing concerns and questions, was particularly useful to become aware that I was not the only one experiencing some of the affective feelings discussed by Kuhlthau et al. in the Information Search Process (1997, p.19). During the Exploration stage we were all experiencing feelings of confusion, frustration and doubt and the realisation that my feelings were not unique made me feel less overwhelmed by them.

As previously discussed in my analysis of inquiry models, my experiences mostly paralleled The Alberta Inquiry Model (Alberta. 2004, ch.2, p.10). Reviewing the process is at the core of this model and is essential at every step. The opportunity to review other students work and receive feedback on mine particularly fits in with the ‘Information Processing and Information Sharing’ section of this model. In the Information Sharing stage 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 when I published my blog posts and received feedback, from there I was again able to review and consider whether changes were needed before the final findings were presented.

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

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

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

SYNTHESIZING THE INFORMATION

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INQUIRY LEARNING IN THE SCIENCE CLASSROOM AND THE ROLE OF THE TEACHER-LIBRARIAN.

“Inquiry” has been a central goal of science education for decades and is the hallmark for current science education reform efforts (Quigley ,Marshall, Deaton & Cook, 2011; Abd-el-Khalick et al. 2004; Bell, Smetana, & Binns, 2005). According to Abd-el-Khalick (2004, p. 398) “good science teaching and learning has come to be distinctly and increasingly associated with the term inquiry.” However, educators, practitioners and researchers recognise there are many challenges to authentic inquiry teaching. Effective inquiry-based learning requires a team of professionals to design implement and assess student learning (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari , 2007). One solution to help meet this challenge within a school context is collaboration, particularly between a teacher and teacher-librarian with a common vision.

Contained within current research, (Donham, 2010; Abd-el-Khalick et al., 2004; Zion et al. 2007) is much discussion and debate as to what authentic inquiry learning constitutes and how one would recognise it in a classroom. Part of the confusion stems from the broad spectrum of activities that can be interpreted as inquiry based. These can range from structured and guided inquiry (teacher directed) to open inquiry (student directed). The degree of complexity in an inquiry activity also varies, depending on the level of openness and the cognitive demands required. Rezba, Auldridge, and Rhea, (as cited in Bell et al. 2005, p.33) provide a succinct example of the different levels of inquiry that can be experienced within a science classroom in Table 1.

Figure 3. Levels of inquiry in an effervescent antacid tablet activity. Reprinted with permission from Rezba, Auldridge, and Rhea (1999).

Inquiry
level

Description and examples

1

Confirmation—Students confirm a principle through an activity in which the results are known in advance.
“In this investigation you will confirm that the rate of a chemical reaction increases as the temperature of the reacting materials increases. You will use effervescent antacid tablets to verify this principle. Using the following procedure, record the results as indicated, and answer the questions at the end of the activity.”

2

Structured inquiry—Students investigate a teacher-presented question through a prescribed procedure.
“In this investigation you will determine the relationship between temperature and the reaction rate of effervescent antacid tablets and water. You will use effervescent antacid tablets and water of varying temperatures. Using the following procedure, record the results as indicated, and answer the questions at the end of the activity.”

3

Guided inquiry—Students investigate a teacher-presented question using student designed/selected procedures.
“Design an investigation to answer the question: What effect will water temperature have on the rate at which an effervescent antacid tablet will react? Develop each component of the investigation including a hypothesis, procedures, data analysis, and conclusions. Implement your procedure only when it has been approved by your teacher.”

4

Open inquiry—Students investigate topic-related questions that are student formulated through student designed/selected procedures.
“Design an investigation to explore and research a chemistry topic related to the concepts we have been studying during the current unit on chemical reactions. Implement your procedure only when it has been approved by your teacher.”

Table 1: Levels of Inquiry (Bell et al. 2005, p.33)

Inquiry learning has also become confused with tasks that are merely ‘fact finding’. Gordon (1999) (as cited in Donham 2008, p.1) characterized this problem as “no-inquiry-learning” and stated that reporting has masqueraded as researching for so long that the terms are used interchangeably. However, Inquiry as defined by Kuhlthau et al.(2007,2) is an;

“Approach to learning whereby students find and use a variety of sources of information and ideas to increase their understanding of a problem or issue. It espouses investigation, exploration, search, quest, research, pursuit and study. It challenges students to connect their world to the curriculum.”

There are many parallels between Kuhlthau’s definition of inquiry and the description from the National Research Council 2000 (as cited in Quigley 2011, p.55) when it sets out the essential features of what the learner will do when inquiring within a scientific framework, including:

  • Engaging with a scientific question,
  • Participating in design of procedures
  • Giving priority to evidence
  • Formulating explanations
  • Connecting explanations to scientific knowledge, and,
  • Communicating and justifying explanations

It is obvious why science educators claim inquiry as essential to their curriculum, the concern amongst researchers however is that most teachers lack a practical framework of inquiry to inform their instruction ( Bell et al. 2005, 30). Research has consistently indicated that what is enacted in classrooms is mostly incommensurate with visions of inquiry put forth in reform documents, ; (Abd-el-Khalick et al., 2004, 398)and teacher understanding of inquiry, including its many pedagogical and curricular nuances, is still problematic (Quigley et al. 2011,55).

The indications here for me as a future teacher-librarian are many. The most important role for me in the inquiry learning process is to be a catalyst for change. To realise that change is a process that takes time and persistence (Olson and Loucks-Horsley, 2000, 157)and that teachers need to be supported through this process both on both an organizational and individual level. Authentic inquiry is an innovation in most classrooms and fortunately, an extensive body of knowledge is available in the form of research papers, books , video clips and kits that provide instructional guides, resources and personal vignettes about both the benefits of inquiry learning and how to introduce it in science classrooms.

REFERENCES

Abd-El-Khalick, F., BouJaoude, S., Duschl, R., Lederman, N. G., Mamlok-Naaman, R.,

Hofstein, A., Niaz, M., Treagust, D. and Tuan, H.-l. (2004), Inquiry in scence education: International perspectives. Sci. Ed., 88: 397–419. Retrieved August 12, 2012 from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/sce.10118/pdf

Bell, R., Smetana, L.,Binns, I. (2005)Simplifying Inquiry Instruction. The Science Teacher. 72 (7) Retrieved August              15, 2012 from http://www.nsta.org/publications/news/story.aspx?id=50983

Donham, J (2010) Deep Learning Through Concept- Based Inquiry. School Library Monthly 27 (1) Retrieved                 September 5, 2012 from http://www.schoollibrarymonthly.com/articles/Donham2010-v27n1p8.html

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. And Caspari, A. (2007) Guided Inquiry: learning in the 21st century school. Westport: Greenwood

Olson, S and Loucks-Horsley, S . (Ed.) (2008) Inquiry and the National Science Education

Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning; Committee on the Development of an Addendum to the National Science Education Standards on Scientific Inquiry; National Research Council. Retrieved September2, 2012 from http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~jossem/REF/59.pdf

Quigley, C. , Marshall, J.Deaton, C.Cook, M, & Padilla, M.(2011) Challenges to

Inquiry Teaching and Suggestions for How to Meet Them Science Educator; 20 (1) 55-61 Retrieved August 12, 2012 from http://www.eric.ed.gov.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=EJ940939 

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

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My literature search has resulted in me focusing on three main areas.

  • Projects specifically involving the design and building of a pushcart (my ILA project)
  • Inquiry learning in science or design technology in primary schools
  • The role of the teacher-librarian in assisting with inquiry learning projects.

My bibliography combines resources from each of these three focus areas.

Abd-El-Khalick, F., BouJaoude, S., Duschl, R., Lederman, N. G., Mamlok-Naaman, R.,

Hofstein, A., Niaz, M., Treagust, D. and Tuan, H.-l. (2004), Inquiry in science education: International perspectives. Sci. Ed., 88: 397–419.

This set of papers from an international symposium discuses issues directly relating to inquiry learning within science. It looks at issues in the light of inquiry both as means (i.e., inquiry as an instructional approach) and as ends (i.e., inquiry as a learning outcome). Although it is disscusses secondary science classrooms I thought it would be give an excellent over arching view of inquiry-learning from a variety of countries. As a teacher-librarian I was particularly interested in the section: ” Images of the enactment of inquiry in the curriculum, curricular materials, classroom instruction, and assessment practices” as I thought this would be useful for making recommendations for future practice when analysing my ILA.

Beattie, G. & Ryan, F (1994) Technology, Transport ,Energy And The Environment …

Today and Tomorrow. Into The Future:-an integrated technology, science and environmental education kit. The Victorian Country Education Project.

Despite the age of this kit I thought it contained useful information relating to the teaching of inquiry based projects. Particularly interesting was the initial framing up approach to a topic that was the same as our questionnaire for CLN650 and that which we did with our ILA:- What do you already know, What would you like to know etc. There are also well set out activities that are specific and appropriately worded for primary school level that could be a model for teachers to use and support what I will include as part of my recommendations for future practice in the analysis of my ILA.

Donham, Jean.(2011) Assignments Worth Doing. School Library Monthly, 28 (2), 5-7 3

Donham examines how school librarians need to be vigilant in challenging students on a deep cognitive level. Even though it is not specifically about science it can be easily related to inquiry learning across all curriculum areas. Of particular interest was her emphasis on moving beyond “superficial fact-gathering” tasks which has been a topic of discussion amongst the CLN650 group in relation to ILAs. She discusses a guide to deep learning through inquiry whichschool librarians can use with teachers to design assignments and assessment criteria that I thought would be

Egret584 (2010) Best Practices; 2nd Grade Inquiry Based Science. Youtube video clip

            This video documents second grade students who are adept at applying higher level thinking skills to the scientific process. It is an excellent example of inquiry learning which includes examples of question types and questioning techniques; generating hypotheses; experimentation; recording observations and reporting results. These are all processes I observed students in my ILA completing and the comparison of the different approaches is valuable. It also demonstrates using students as experts, and collaboration which came up as points for consideration after the ILA students completed their first questionnaire. So, not only does it parallel aspects of my ILA it also addresses inquiry learning in the science classroom, a very valuable resource.

Kids’ Design Challenge (2012) http://www.kdc.nsw.edu.au/index.html

This resource is the web page for the Kids’ Design Challenge which runs the Technopush Project which is the topic for my ILA. It provides all the details necessary to be involved in the project including registration, tips, expert help and showcases from previous years. A detailed teaching plan is sent out once you have registered.

McLean, Ian (2011) Taking the plunge: guided inquiry, persuasion and the research river at

Penrith Public School. Scan; 30 (4), 26-35

McLean’s motivation in writing this article was to present his findings from a guided-inquiry collaborative journey at Penrith Public School. He had initially attended professional development sessions with Ross Todd and Lee FitzGerald in 2010 and was keen to implement more fully Carol Kuhlthau’s ‘Model for the information search process’ (ISP) at his school. This related directly to everything we had been reading and discussing with regards to inquiry learning. Also the content and context was Australian primary school specific relating to the K-6 syllabus. From a teacher-librarian perspective I was very interested to see how he had used the SLIM toolkit and a weblog and generally incorporated the use of ICTs into the inquiry learning process.

Milne, Ian (2010) A Sense of Wonder, Arising from Aesthetic Experiences, Should Be

the Starting Point for Inquiry in Primary Science Science Education International, 21 (2) 102-115


Milne in this article expresses his personal belief in the need for both students and teachers to operate from a point of wonder or awe when learning /teaching about science in primary school. What was pertinent to my research however was a table provided that introduces, “Creative Exploration” an inquiry based model for teaching and learning in primary science. He describes this as a co constructive inquiry learning approach. Although this probably requires further exploration I thought the distinction he made between “doing science and learning science” was pertinent to my ILA.

Prevost, E.J. (2010) Developing a culture of inquiry in elementary schools:

The role of the teacher-librarian.

Prevost’s masters’ dissertation provides an overview of Inquiry-Learning and outlines her personal journey towards it. It examines the inquiry process in elementary (primary) schools and the benefits to all the educational stakeholders. She also outlines what is required to develop a culture of inquiry-based learning and how best to collaborate with others. It is written in a reader friendly style and is very suitable to my aim of learning how to better assist others with inquiry-learning in their classrooms as it is almost like a ‘how to’ manual. The background story of her personal journey is also very appealing as aspects of it mirror my own.

Quigley, C. , Marshall, J.Deaton, C.Cook, M, & Padilla, M.(2011) Challenges to

Inquiry Teaching and Suggestions for How to Meet Them Science Educator; 20 (1) 55-61

This peer reviewed article claims inquiry has been a goal of science education for decades. Of particular interest to me was how it described four major challenges facing teachers as they implement inquiry based teaching:-“including measuring the quality of inquiry, using discourse to improve inquiry, pursuing the goal of teaching content through inquiry methods, and learning how to effectively manage an inquiry classroom.” The authors go on to provide an analysis of these issues and provide implementation strategies.

Vassila, H., King, J., & Foster, L. (2008) How can teacher librarians support technology

learning? Scan 27 (2), 15-18

This article ticks all the boxes for my requirements; it discusses specifically how science and technology is best taught within the NSW syllabuses and describes the methodology of project work that is used. This process of teaching fits in with inquiry-based learning models and the part that particularly caught my eye in the abstract was, “teacher librarians are valuable teaching partners to enhance technology learning… especially when students are exploring, defining, analysing and organising information for the project task.” The specific skills that a teacher-librarian can bring to the classroom are described and valued.

Yax, Kerrie (2012) Kerrie Yax’s followed topic posts. Scoop.it

This Scoop.it! website site is an amazing link to a large variety of resources, articles, lesson plans, webinars and tools that will prove useful not only for this course of study but also for my teaching practice. It covers such a wide variety of topics relevant to both inquiry-learning and science including:- Flipping and Expanding Bloom’s Taxonomy; 100 Coolest Science Experiments on YouTube; Mrs. Yax’s Science Websites; Curiosity in the classroom; Visual Interactive Blooms of web 2.0 tools; Project-based learning. And the list could continue. This is probably the most valuable resource I have found that I will continue to use into the future.

WEEK 2 TUTORIAL TASKS

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Task 1:

Searching Google and Google scholar for, -saving black mountain-, with and without inverted commas made an enormous difference. Well that’s an understatement. It was an amazing, gobsmacking difference!!

GOOGLE SEARCH.

My initial search without inverted commas yielded 19,700, 000 results whilst using inverted commas yielded 7,270 results. SO, this is a useful filtering system to cut down on the numbers BUT does anyone even look as far as the first 100 results. So what about the quality of the results?

 In the top ten results:-

  • the first two were exactly the same and there were a total of four the same in both searches
  • There was an ad at the top of the page when not using inverted commas and 6 results for Black Mountain Savings Bank. So not using inverted commas allows Google to search for any combination of the key words.
  • Using the inverted commas kept the words strictly in the typed order. Interestingly there were 5 results that related to critical literacy making it more relevant to the requirements of CLN650 and there were two past student blogs for this project that showed up.
  • SO… if I knew exactly what I was looking for I would definitely use inverted commas and leave them off if I was just doing a random or ‘fishing’ search.

GOOGLE SCHOLAR SEARCH.

I already had Google Scholar set to National library Australia and now I also set it reveal QUT holdings and refined some other areas in scholar preferences to suit my particular search purposes.

My initial search without inverted commas yielded 194,000 results whilst using inverted commas yielded 36 results. WOW are you kidding me, now even I could manage to scroll my way through 36 results without too much trouble. So…. the quality of the results?

 In the top ten results:-

  • the first one was exactly the same and there were a total of three the same in both searches
  • Again not using inverted commas allows Google to search for any combination of the key words which allows for some interesting results such as ‘Black-footed ferrets’ and ‘the souls of black folk’.
  • Using the inverted commas kept the words strictly in the typed order. I had used the settings to also include citations so articles with both the heading and citations showed up. INTERESTINGLY the other 9 results on the page cited the first article so some skimming through would be needed to see if new information and interpretations could be gleaned from these.

 THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOGLE AND GOOGLE SCHOLAR

  • Google accesses anything on the net whilst scholar provides access specifically to scholarly literature.

Google Scholar allows users to search for digital or physical copies of articles, whether online or in libraries.[6] It indexes “full-text journal articles, technical reports, preprints, theses, books, and other documents, including selected Web pages that are deemed to be ‘scholarly.'”[7].

  • Scholar also highlights whether the item is a [DOC], [PDF], [HTML], [BOOK], WHILST Google only highlights [PDF] and whether it is available as ‘full text’.
  • Scholar also gives you the option of advanced searches and allows you to sort by date.