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Focus on Inquiry - Part 3
In Inquiry Learning
Tom Neilson
Forum contributor
Forum contributor
Dec 11, 2020
I think cognitive overload was definitely a big issue last time I tried to guide a class through the inquiry process, and probably the biggest learning that I have gained from this forum is the need for students to spend a lot of time under the direction of their subject teacher exploring, questioning and becoming engaged with a topic before they develop a research question and begin the process of retrieving, assessing and ordering information. I love the example in 'Focus on Inquiry' of a primary school class doing a project on 'The Life of Insects' that spent time looking at pictures, going on bug walks, singing songs about insects etc. and then started to form their own questions before moving on to do a bit of personalised research. I work in a secondary school but sometimes it helps to move things along the spectrum a bit. I have also taken away that I have to be more careful about how and when I teach the Information Literacy skills required to support the different stages of the process so that students feel they have at least one definite strategy to deal with each phase. As the text suggests, this is another way of reducing the cognitive load placed on the students. I know that this is Librarian 101, but I have to confess that I do sometimes feel that I need to go back to basics and brush up on my own Information Literacy skills, and my ability to deliver these skills in a way that students will find engaging - do you offer any such training @Elizabeth ? I suspect that the cognitive load issue is probably closely linked to affective load in that if I can reduce the cognitive load and make students feel supported through the process then affective anxiety would become less of an issue. This is not to dismiss the affective side of the process. I think it is important to make the students aware of the process that they are going through and for them to reflect upon each phase from an affective point of view as this will help them to develop their emotional literacy and resilience. This is another thing I have taken away from this process! Time (and therefore opportunity) is always an issue. There is a teach-to-the-test culture in my school and the UK has a government that has a teach-to-the-test approach to education, so I do feel that is the prevailing tide that we are all struggling against.
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Focus on Inquiry - Part 2
In Inquiry Learning
Tom Neilson
Forum contributor
Forum contributor
Nov 18, 2020
The two models do seem broadly similar and I'm sure both provide an excellent framework for Inquiry. It is interesting that the architects of the Alberta model chose to place 'Reflecting on the Process' in the centre of all the other phases as this does highlight that Reflection is something that is ongoing throughout the whole process and not just something that happens at the end. I understand that FOSIL does encourage reflection throughout the process and the need for a learner to go back and forth between the phases as they discover new information and make new connections, but perhaps the Alberta model makes this more explicit at the top level. I like the unpacking of 'Planning' (Alberta) into 'Connect' and 'Wonder' in FOSIL as this serves to highlight that time should be spent introducing the topic to learners and helping them to become engaged in the topic - something which is vital in order to sustain learners through the inquiry. Reading through 'Focus on Inquiry' it is clear that this sort of preparation is intended to be part of the 'Planning' phase but, again, it is a question of emphasis at the top level. I guess 'Express' and 'Sharing' are broadly analogous but 'Sharing' does seem to emphasis that learners are creating something that will be shared with an audience, even if that audience is sometimes just a teacher, and that it is important when creating anything to keep ones end-user / reader in mind. Perhaps it also encourages us, as educators, to create ways in which projects can be shared.
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Tom Neilson
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