Inquiry-based learning and knowledge building

Torunn Aanesland Strømme introduced me to the term inquiry-based learning. I googled it, and here is what I found (source):

  • “Inquiry” is defined as “a seeking for truth, information, or knowledge — seeking information by questioning.”
  • Inquiry implies a “need or want to know” premise. Inquiry is not so much seeking the right answer — because often there is none — but rather seeking appropriate resolutions to questions and issues.
  • Trying to transmit “what we know,” even if it were possible, is counterproductive in the long run. This is why schools must change from a focus on “what we know” to an emphasis on “how we come to know.”

Inquiry-based learning,Wikipedia:

  • Inquiry learning is a form of active learning, where progress is assessed by how well students develop experimental and analytical skills rather than how much knowledge they possess.
  • Students become ‘mini-scientists’.
  • The philosophy of inquiry based learning finds its antecedents in the work of Piaget, Dewey, Vygotsky, and Freire among others.
  • Specific learning processes that students engage in during inquiry-learning include:
    *Creating questions of their own
    *Obtaining supporting evidence to answer the question(s)
    *Explaining the evidence collected
    *Connecting the explanation to the knowledge obtained from the investigative process
    *Creating an argument and justification for the explanation

When dealing with the challenge of what is needed to create knowledge, Knowledge Building“(pdf) is an interesting theory. Developed by Carl Bereiter and Marlene Scardamalia, Knowledge Building is work on the creation of improvement of ideas (source). Scardamalia & Bereiter distinguish between knowledge building and learning. They see learning as an internal, (almost) unobservable process that results in changes of beliefs, attitudes, or skills. By contrast, knowledge building is seen as creating or modifying public knowledge. KB produces knowledge that lives ‘in the world’, and is available to be worked on and used by other people (Wikipedia). The new challenge is initiating the young into a culture devoted to advancing the frontiers of knowledge on all sides, and helping them to find a constructive and personally satisfying role in that culture. The driving force is not so much the individual interests of children as their desire to connect with what is most dynamic and meaningful in the surrounding society. That, fundamentally, is what knowledge-building pedagogy and knowledge-building technology aim to build upon.

Scardamalia (2002)[7] identifies twelve principles of Knowledge building as follows (Wikipedia):

  1. Real ideas and authentic problems. In the classroom as a Knowledge building community, learners are concerned with understanding, based on their real problems in the real world.
  2. Improvable ideas. Students’ ideas are regarded as improvable objects.
  3. Idea diversity. In the classroom, the diversity of ideas raised by students is necessary.
  4. Rise above. Through a sustained improvement of ideas and understanding, students create higher level concepts.
  5. Epistemic agency. Students themselves find their way in order to advance.
  6. Community knowledge, collective responsibility. Students’ contribution to improving their collective knowledge in the classroom is the primary purpose of the Knowledge building classroom.
  7. Democratizing knowledge. All individuals are invited to contribute to the knowledge advancement in the classroom.
  8. Symmetric knowledge advancement. A goal for Knowledge building communities is to have individuals and organizations actively working to provide a reciprocal advance of their knowledge.
  9. Pervasive Knowledge building. Students contribute to collective Knowledge building.
  10. Constructive uses of authoritative sources. All members, including the teacher, sustain inquiry as a natural approach to support their understanding.
  11. Knowledge building discourse. Students are engaged in discourse to share with each other, and to improve the knowledge advancement in the classroom.
  12. Concurrent, embedded, and transformative assessment. Students take a global view of their understanding, then decide how to approach their assessments. They create and engage in assessments in a variety of ways.
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