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Sustainable Communities: A journey in inquiry learning

Welcome to the continuing journey of one Geography teacher and eight year 11 and 12 students as we engage in action research. As the students explore sustainable communities in Brisbane, I explore the use of inquiry learning as a model of learning.

Robert Smith

on 2 November 2014

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Transcript of Sustainable Communities: A journey in inquiry learning

Sustainable Communities:
A journey in inquiry learning.

design by Dóri Sirály for Prezi
Welcome to the continuing journey of one Geography teacher and eight year 11 and 12 students as we engage in action research. As the students explore
ustainable communities in Brisbane, I explore the use of Guided Inquiry as a model of learning in Senior Geography.

Continue this Prezi to find a brief summary of my methodology, actions taken, findings, analysis and recommendations. Further detail can be found on the "QldGeographer" blog.
Firstly, I selected some tools to help me assess how well my Geographers can find, process, gather, analyse and use information. My chosen navigation tool (a GPS if you will) is the SLIMs toolkit (Todd, Kuhlthau, & Heinstrom, 2005). I conducted a survey at the start, middle and end of the unit. I then reflected on the Geographers' progress through anecdotal notes, models of student work and the students' survey responses as they engaged with the Guided Inquiry approach, created by world expert Carol Kuhlthau. This data informed my action research approach as we progressed in this unit, exploring sustainable communities in Brisbane.
Beginning the journey
Australian Curriculum Geography uses one of the most "sophisticated and comprehensive" inquiry frameworks (Lupton, 2012, p. 14);
There is an emphasis, however in the Australian Curriculum on generic rather than situated or transformative literacies;
The linearity of the syllabus does not encourage the more cyclical approach of inquiry learning; and
Carol Kuhlthau's (2007) Information Search Process is a good approximation of the learning journey.
Journey debrief:
Analysis and Recommendations
Navigating the journey: Methodology
Any journey requires constant consultation with the chosen navigation device. So as I used the SLIMs survey to check-in with the Geographers at the beginning, middle and end of the journey, I then sought to improve students learning through my teaching approach. My actions as a result of this information were:
Negotiating the learning with students through student choice;
Scaffolding the weekly lessons while drawing learning back to the overall purpose of the unit;
Providing weekly feedback on student work;
Unpacking syllabus expectations to enable clear student understanding;
Using visual summaries for students.
On the road: Actions taken
Like any road trip, you never know what you may discover along the way. This action research project, too, had its own discoveries as I journeyed this unit with the Geographers:
I was pleasantly surprised that the Geographers started with a high interest in the topic and this high interest continued to the end;
As hoped, the complexity of the Geographers knowledge increased between surveys;
The Geographers were pleased with their learning;
Their main complaint was the busyness of Term 3. We all agreed that the unit was rushed with too many interruptions;
I found it a challenge to implement student-centred inquiry approaches within the prescriptions of the senior Geography syllabus.
Journey discoveries: Findings
Carol Kuhlthau's Information Search Process and
the Guided Inquiry Design Process
Student responses to the SLIMs toolkit
Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L., & Caspari, A. (2007). The Theory and research basis for guided inquiry in C. Kuhlthau, L. Maniotes, & A. Caspari.
Guided inquiry: learning in the 21st century
(pp.13-28). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, (2012). Guided inquiry design: The process, the learning, and the team. In C. Kuhlthau, L. Maniotes, & A. Caspari.
Guided inquiry design: A framework for inquiry in your school
(pp.1 – 15). Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.
Lupton, M. (2012b). Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum. Access, 26(2). 12-18.
Todd, R., Kuhlthau, C., & Heinstrom, J. (2005).
A toolkit and handbook for tracking and assessing student learning outcomes of guided inquiry through the school library.
Retrieved from CiSSL, Rutgers University, NJ.
Results from some of the SLIMs toolkit surveys are shown below
Full transcript