teachers I talk to are wary of Inquiry learning because their concept of
'good inquiry' is that it is pupil directed. This causes concerns for
many teachers in terms of management and a whole range of practical
issues. I believe that the bulk of these concerns are legitimate and
that pupil driven learning brings with it a raft of problems and issues
for schools and teachers to deal with.
believe the end goal of Inquiry Learning is to have moved students down
the pathway towards independence as learners and that pupil driven
learning of high quality that is managed well, is an evidential
outcome of good inquiry learning.
seen a number of schools that have tried to have student driven learning
as their start-point, and in the end they have often implemented a
programme with a number of problems including:
is very difficult for teachers to manage
Students lack the basic information and inquiry skills
tasks set by students tend to be low level 'gather-present' tasks
gain quality outcomes requires a huge level of teacher intervention.
think that making a choice between 'teacher directed' and 'pupil
directed' is the best way to look at this issue, rather I believe that
there is huge value in starting with teacher directed and moving through
two progressions aimed at empowering students as learners.
1: Teacher Directed
The first step is where teachers craft high
quality tasks, tasks that target 'celebration of understanding', where
students are expected to apply and use the found information in some
way, and tasks that are fully supported by quality resources at levels
appropriate to the students' skills. Students who have worked through a
number of such tasks, been supported with extensive scaffolding,
have developed their own understanding of 'good inquiry', will have
built and developed some foundational inquiry skills and will have
The second step is for students (who have demonstrated a
range of foundational skills) to move into tasks that they negotiate
with the teacher. These tasks will bring with them more issues in terms
of availability and suitability of information, less scaffolding
support, and require skills at a more advanced level. Students will be
supported to negotiate high quality tasks that target application of
information and 'celebration of understanding'.
Pupil Directed Learning
This final stage is the ultimate goal of 'good
inquiry', these are students who have developed a sound set of learning
and information skills and are equipped to work as independent learners.
this well it is helpful for schools to:
identify the skills they believe an independent learner will have
when they leave the school
develop a rubric of stages of development in those skills
determine what stage of development students need to be at in the
chosen skills to be ready for progression to the next stage of
example on of the schools I have worked with sees questioning as one of
the major skills of an independent learner.
QuESTioning rubric which is based on a range of questioning skills,
and have decided that an independent learner will need to be able to ask
questions right across the range from Stage 3 to Stage 7 inclusive.
then decided what the transitional benchmarks in terms of questioning
ability would be.