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Inquiry-Based Learning – Literature Review

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Literature Review

Suthers, D.D., Toth, E.E. & Weiner, A. (1997). An integrated approach to implementing

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collaborative inquiry in the classroom. CSCL Proceedings, December.

In their article, Suthers, Toth and Weiner (1997) provide a detailed overview of the major benefits and pitfalls of computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL). The impact of technology on the quality of the learning processes is re-evaluated through the prism of inquiry-based collaborative environments. Researchers perform a detailed analysis of the newly designed CSCL approach that comprises a networked software system, activity plans, web-based materials and self- and peer-assessment instruments.

Suthers, Toth and Weiner (1997) seek the means and justification for the shift of the learning initiative to students.

The researchers are correct in that technology has the potential to completely transform the quality of educational processes. Suthers, Toth and Weiner (1997) imply that technology may serve a reliable basis for the development and implementation of inquiry-based learning approaches in classroom. Properly designed software may provide students with a chance to use shared workspace as the source and the means of collaborative inquiry.

Finally, advanced technology can become the key to better quality of teamwork and group work at all levels of student learning activity.

Suthers, Toth and Weiner (1997) use a balanced approach to the research of technology’s role in inquiry-based learning: they are confident that the use of technology in classroom is impossible without being supported by a well-developed set of manual curriculum materials. The researchers suggest that in less technology-rich environments students must be able to use these materials as a reliable support in their inquiry progress. Moreover, as the teacher’s role shifts toward that of a facilitator, students require sound knowledge of criteria for achieving excellence in studies; that is why in inquiry-based learning environments technology is impossible without performance-based assessment rubrics that would guide student self-assessment and would substantially facilitate teachers’ assessment of student works.

Unfortunately, the scope of analysis is limited to assessing the benefits of the Belvedere software, which may not fit into other collaborative frameworks. Simultaneously, Suthers, Toth and Weiner (1997) are very detailed in their observations of the teachers’ and students’ roles in inquiry-based environments. In this context, their research design is similar to that utilized by Little (2008), who investigates the roles of developers, individuals, and project professionals as the basis for in-depth analysis of links between technology and inquiry-based learning. Little (2008) supports their claims, suggesting that teamwork is the central element of collaborative learning in academic contexts. Suthers, Toth, and Weiner’s (1997) research would have been complete, if they had evaluated ethical considerations in regard to technology use in class (especially, when it comes to using shared workspace and networked support). Despite these inconsistencies, the article can be used to evaluate the benefits of technological IBL as opposed to conventional textbook ways of teaching.

Little, S. (2008). Inquiry-based learning and technology – supporting institutional TEL within

one pedagogical context. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39 (3): 422-432.

Sabine Little (2008) provides a detailed insight into the impact, which technology may have on inquiry-based learning. The need for Little’s research stems from the development and implementation of the strategically new pedagogical framework in England and Northern Ireland in 2005. Little (2008) adopts a practitioner-centered research approach that can be useful for the evaluation of Learning Development and Research Associate (LDRA) within the limits of networked learning. With the aim to evaluate the role which LDRA plays in the development of inquiry-based approaches, the author seeks to evaluate the role of LDRA within a particular institution, implying that the results of her research will later be expanded onto other academic environments. Little (2008) suggests that LDRA offer quality broker support and link different academic units into one collaborative network. The formation of inquiry-based environments takes place through “connections which are further made as part of the workshops and meeting opportunities” (Little, 2008). Through reflective blogs and well-developed networking opportunities, LDRA links staff and technology into one single integrated inquiry-based framework, which is gradually transformed into the central element of curriculum change. Ultimately, Little (2008) views technology (particularly, Web 2.0 technology) as the instrument that facilitates discussion, co-creation, and co-ownership of curriculum materials; as a result, technology helps transfer valuable knowledge and expertise into a new system of inquiry-based initiatives, which subsequently form positive expectations in regard to student learning outcomes.

The results of Little’s (2008) research offer several credible solutions to the current issues in technological inquiry-based learning. First, technology is viewed as the strategic change agent in the current development of curriculum approaches to the learning process. Second, technology expands the role of developers and designers: in the continuous process of inquiry-based curriculum implementation, these gradually turn into researchers, who maintain “dissemination of the learning and understanding that is gathered as part of a very specific role” (Little, 2008). This research provides a strong basis for investigating the role which technology plays in distributing staff obligations and responsibilities within the context of inquiry-based learning. However, Little (2008) fails to link her findings to the impact they may have on student learning outcomes in the short and long run.

For the researcher, Little’s (2008) work provides credible justification of IBL: “technology allows for creativity so that IBL may take place in ever new environments and forms, overcoming hurdles encountered by face-to-face teaching environments”. The positive side of the research is in that it provides a look from inside: as a result, possible complications and problem which may be associated with the implementation and use of inquiry-based approaches in classroom may be re-considered through the prism of technology use. In Little’s (2008) opinion, technology is the central element that drives change at the strategic level; ultimately, technology-enhance learning signifies a strategic pedagogical attempt to support the use of suitable technologies in learning.

Unfortunately, the author seems to omit important ethical issues that may arise in connection with the dissemination of information and the distribution of roles among various groups of project developers. Moreover, Little (2008) does not pay attention to the role of equal access to technology within one single inquiry-based framework. In distinction from Suthers, Toth, and Weiner (1997), Little (2008) looks at inquiry-based learning from a new angle. Instead of evaluating the growing impact of technology on inquiry as such, she performs a detailed exploration of the staff roles’ distribution within the continuous process of inquiry-based curriculum development. Despite several ethical inconsistencies, the results of her study can be effectively utilized in profound investigation of the quality of inquiry-based learning and its positive impact on student learning outcomes.

Pataray-Ching, J. (2006). Inquiring into a second language and the culture of school.

Language Arts, 83 (3): 248-257.

Patay-Ching (2006) looks at the importance of inquiry-based learning through the prism of its use in cultural language studies. Valuable experience of Vietnamese immigrants helps evaluate the positive impact which inquiry produces on children, who learn to speak English. Patay-Ching (2006) divides inquiry-based learning experience into the four major components: “inquiry into literacy at home; active analyses of others’ literacies; negotiation between Han’s interpretation of classroom events and her existing personal knowledge; and connections within and across pragmatic contexts”.  As a result, inquiry-based learning is expected to form the multiplicity of language learning opportunities without separating the child from the social and cultural contexts in which he (she) exists. In case of a Vietnamese child, inquiry is expected to provide her with the inner stimuli for personal and educational growth. By minimizing the tensions that usually arise at the intersection of different classroom and home pragmatic contexts, inquiry-based learning is expected to form the basis for developing and utilizing rich curriculum contents. The language will thus become the means of self-identification for the child, who might have been alien to the American cultural paradigms.

Patay-Ching (2006) touches a painful topic of cultural barriers to successful learning. The research is strong in the way it explores the issues within language-learning curricula and the ways inquiry resolves them. Unfortunately, Patay-Ching (2006) looks at inquiry-based learning as the only reliable methodology that is perfect in itself, failing to recognize that successful cross application of several methodologies may offer better opportunities for stable educational growth in a highly sophisticated area of language studies. Patay-Ching’s (2006) research is highly specialized. While Little (2008) and Suthers, Toth and Weiner (1997) recognize the relevance of technology in inquiry-based learning contexts, Patay-Ching (2006) obviously ignores the fact that the use of technology could potentially improve learners’ achievements in language classes. From an ethical viewpoint, Patay-Ching (2006) is rather incautious in her statements regarding the role women play in Vietnamese families; here, inquiry-based learning seems to contradict to the profound cultural and social traditions within small ethnic communities. Nevertheless, the results of her research can be successfully used to explore the impact which inquiry may produce on students’ understanding of foreign languages and their role in the development of foreign students’ cultural awareness.

Magnussen, L., Ishida, D. & Itano, J. (2000). The impact of the use of inquiry-based learning

as a teaching methodology on the development of critical thinking. Journal of Nursing Education, 39 (8): 360-364.

Magnussen, Ishida and Itano (2008) review the benefits of inquiry-based learning as

opposed to problem-based learning and the impact of the former on the development of critical thinking about nursing school students. The authors admit that inquiry-based learning is more flexible and holistic when compared to PBL. They define inquiry-based learning as “an orientation toward learning that is flexible and open, and draws on the varied skills and resources of faculty and students, in which faculty are co-learners who guide and facilitate the student-driven learning experience” (Magnussen, Ishida & Itano, 2008). The results of the research suggest that the use of IBL in school contexts positively impacts the quality of critical thinking skills in students; simultaneously, students who initially possess good critical thinking abilities do not perceive the same benefits from being involved into IBL environments. This research links student critical thinking abilities to inquiry, and offers vast opportunities for using IBL in various learning contexts. The results provide credible evidence for the fact that IBL is the reliable prerequisite of positive learning outcomes among the students, who may not possess sufficient critical thinking skills.

Magnussen, Ishida and Itano (2000) have failed to evaluate the limitations of the WG-CTA scoring system used for the evaluation of critical thinking abilities among nursing school students. The authors have not paid any attention to the ethical issues that might have stemmed from the need to identify students as those lacking critical thinking skills. Magnussen, Ishida and Itano (2000) provide a generalized look at the use of IBL, and their findings go in line with the results of Patay-Ching’s (2006) research, suggesting that the use of IBL in various learning conditions almost always predetermines positive learning outcomes across different groups of learners. The article can be used as the proof for the assumption that inquiry-based learning offers more learning opportunities than the traditional textbook way of delivering knowledge in class.

References

Little, S. (2008). Inquiry-based learning and technology – supporting institutional TEL within

one pedagogical context. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39 (3): 422-432.

Magnussen, L., Ishida, D. & Itano, J. (2000). The impact of the use of inquiry-based learning

as a teaching methodology on the development of critical thinking. Journal of Nursing Education, 39 (8): 360-364.

Pataray-Ching, J. (2006). Inquiring into a second language and the culture of school.

Language Arts, 83 (3): 248-257.

Suthers, D.D., Toth, E.E. & Weiner, A. (1997). An integrated approach to implementing

collaborative inquiry in the classroom. CSCL Proceedings, December.

 

Cite this Inquiry-Based Learning – Literature Review

Inquiry-Based Learning – Literature Review. (2016, Oct 21). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/inquiry-based-learning-literature-review/

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