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Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008
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Third Mondays - Research Seminars - Philippa Levy - November 2008

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Title: “I feel like a grown-up person”: first year undergraduates’ experiences of inquiry and research. …

Title: “I feel like a grown-up person”: first year undergraduates’ experiences of inquiry and research.

Professor Philippa Levy, Academic Director, CILASS, University of Sheffield.

How do students experience inquiry and research in their first undergraduate year? What role does this experience play in the construction and evolution of their identities and intellectual development as learners? What can we learn from their experiences to inform the development of inquiry-based approaches to educational practice? This seminar will explore these questions through a presentation of some of the findings of a longitudinal, qualitative study of undergraduate students’ experiences of inquiry as they progress through arts and social sciences degree programmes at the University of Sheffield.

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  • 1. “ I feel like a grown-up person”: first-year undergraduates’ experiences of inquiry and research CILASS First Mondays Seminar Series, 17 th November 2008 Philippa Levy Centre for Inquiry-based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences www.shef.ac.uk/cilass
  • 2. <ul><li>How do students experience inquiry and research in their first undergraduate year? </li></ul><ul><li>What role do their experiences play in the construction and evolution of their intellectual and personal development, and identities as learners? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the implications for the development of inquiry-based approaches to educational practice? </li></ul>
  • 3. Overview <ul><li>Some context </li></ul><ul><li>Our research approach </li></ul><ul><li>Emerging themes </li></ul><ul><li>An individual ‘case’ </li></ul><ul><li>Some pedagogical questions </li></ul>
  • 4. Why inquiry? <ul><li>dispositions, qualities, values </li></ul><ul><li>academic and professional knowledge(s) </li></ul><ul><li>capabilities, skills </li></ul><ul><li>ontology – being and becoming </li></ul><ul><li>epistemology – knowing </li></ul><ul><li>praxis - doing </li></ul>following Barnett (2007)
  • 5. HE for “self-authorship” <ul><li>An individual’s awareness of the constructed, fluid and contested nature of knowledge, her belief in herself as possessing the capability to create new knowledge, and her capacity to take her place within an interdependent, knowledge-producing community. </li></ul><ul><li> Following Baxter-Magolda (1992) </li></ul>
  • 6. Inquiry-based learning (IBL) <ul><li>Pedagogical approaches in which student exploration, investigation or research drives the learning experience, with all learning and teaching activities, resources and guidance designed to support the inquiry process </li></ul><ul><li>Modelling discipline-based inquiry and research in the student experience through projects, problem and case scenarios, field-work investigations, experiential learning…. </li></ul>
  • 7. Research on IBL <ul><li>Students’ expectations and attitudes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>expectations of research-based learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>experiences of doing research </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Learning and developmental outcomes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Improvements in grades and retention </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intellectual and personal capabilities for economic opportunities, personal fulfilment, lifelong learning, educated critical citizens </li></ul></ul>
  • 8. Research on intellectual development absolute knowing transitional knowing independent knowing contextual knowing (self-authorship) Baxter-Magolda (1992)
  • 9. Students’ conceptions of, and approaches to inquiry shared, cross-disciplinary ‘research perspective’ disciplinary differences individual differences (tutors) students’ epistemological beliefs and experiences of learning
  • 10. Our project <ul><li>Qualitative, longitudinal </li></ul><ul><li>Annual cycles of data gathering </li></ul><ul><li>29 students, first year entry autumn 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Including 6 international students </li></ul><ul><li>This paper – cross-cutting themes from 12 cases and summary of one individual case </li></ul>
  • 11. Demographics <ul><li>6 British, 6 international students </li></ul><ul><li>7 women, 5 men </li></ul><ul><li>Arts: Biblical Studies; English Literature; Modern Language and History; Two Modern Languages; Philosophy </li></ul><ul><li>Social Sciences: Human Communication Sciences (2); Law (2); Management; Politics (2) </li></ul>
  • 12. Motivations and aspirations <ul><li>their chosen subject </li></ul><ul><li>employability </li></ul><ul><li>social life </li></ul><ul><li>personal growth </li></ul><ul><li>idealism and social/political commitments </li></ul><ul><li>desire for ‘bounded independence’ in life and learning - a privileged, transitional moment </li></ul><ul><li>desire for intensity of educational experience/relation with tutors and students </li></ul>
  • 13. <ul><li>“ [At school] I wasn’t quite happy with being told what something meant, I wanted to contest that, or take it further, or ask why, why are you telling me that, why are you putting it on the board, why is it actually true?” (English) </li></ul><ul><li>“ It’s the very beginning, I’m like young still, so I think guidance is very important” (Politics) </li></ul>
  • 14. Perspectives on learning (a) <ul><li>Acquiring information and skills: recall, communication, application </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I think that learning is when you’re told something that you can remember for yourself. If you’re in a lecture and there’s something in the lecture that you tell your flatmates about, and your parents about, or something, then you’ve learned that, you’ve taken information that you can tell people” (Human Communication Sciences) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Passively receiving vs independently seeking and applying </li></ul>
  • 15. Perspectives on learning (b) <ul><li>Creating and contributing knowledge: integration, personalisation, communication </li></ul><ul><li>“ Having an understanding of a subject that I didn’t have an understanding of before, I suppose, being able to make a useful contribution to it, not that you have to write a book, but I always feel that to really understand something you really have to put your own ideas into it [and not just in Philosophy but Maths too] yeah, I think learning is getting an idea and making it your own, being able to understand it, relay it to someone else” (Philosophy) </li></ul>
  • 16. Perspectives on inquiry (a) <ul><li>“ It’s about finding as much [information] as you possibly can” </li></ul><ul><li> “ Finding the right sources” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Finding information, or looking at situations, or acquiring information through reading or doing experiments, just looking at the world and how it works and gathering that information” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Going away and finding out about something instead of being told about it, being in a lecture and being given information […] looking for information on your own, I suppose” </li></ul>
  • 17. Inquiry as information-seeking <ul><li>finding facts and information </li></ul><ul><li>seeking evidence to back up personal opinion </li></ul><ul><li>acquiring existing disciplinary knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>information-responsive: pursuing questions, problems, scenarios or lines of inquiry established by tutors “what is the existing answer to this question?” </li></ul><ul><li>information-active: pursuing questions, problems, scenarios or lines of inquiry students establish themselves “what is the existing answer to my question?” </li></ul>
  • 18. Perspectives on inquiry (b) <ul><li>“ The first thing that comes to mind when you say inquiry is me asking questions, me asking the teacher or the lecturer or my personal tutor, basically asking, but I suppose it can be a bit broader, asking yourself questions, trying to find out more than what you’re given” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Searching for answers to questions that haven’t been answered yet … really contributing to the work … not just collecting facts and putting them together like I did [for an essay] more like, you really contribute, come up with something new, something that’s yours” </li></ul>
  • 19. Inquiry as discovery <ul><li>personal exploration and discovery in relation to ‘real’ questions </li></ul><ul><li>participating in creating, and contesting, existing knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>discovery-responsive: pursuing new questions, problems, scenarios or lines of inquiry established by tutors (“how can I answer this question?”) </li></ul><ul><li>discovery-active: pursuing questions, problems, scenarios or lines of inquiry students establish themselves (how can I answer my question?) </li></ul>
  • 20. Perspectives on inquiry (c) <ul><li>Dominos: “[The lecturer] was talking about a study, and then from that she’d done another study and another study and she told us how she linked the studies together and what she wanted to find from them, and that was helpful because part of our, one of our modules is designing a research project, so to hear lecturers telling you about their project and how they link from one to another, it’s helpful” (Human Communication Sciences) </li></ul><ul><li>Journeys: “Everything I’ve learned I’ve tried to develop an interest in and sort of apply it to my own experience […] you develop/adapt it into something that makes sense to you” (Philosophy) </li></ul>see Brew (2001)
  • 21. Producing discovery-responsive Students pursue new questions, problems, scenarios or lines of inquiry, as formulated by tutors, in interaction with the knowledge-base of the discipline (“how can I answer this question?”) EXPLORING AND ACQUIRING EXISTING DISCIPLINARY KNOWLEDGE PARTICIPATING IN BUILDING DISCIPLINARY KNOWLEDGE Identifying information-responsive Students explore the knowledge-base of the discipline in response to questions, problems, scenarios or lines of inquiry formulated by staff (“what is the existing answer to this question?”) STAFF-LED STUDENT-LED Authoring discovery-active Students pursue their own new (or new to them) questions, problems, scenarios or lines of inquiry - in interaction with the knowledge-base of the discipline (“how can I answer my question?”) Pursuing information-active Students explore the knowledge-base of the discipline by pursuing questions, problems, scenarios or lines of inquiry they themselves have formulated (“what is the existing answer to my question?”)
  • 22. Inquiry-based learning <ul><li>IBL not generally perceived as a specific pedagogy </li></ul><ul><li>but examples given of IBL across a range of subjects </li></ul><ul><li>most often experienced as ‘information-oriented’ ( identifying, sometimes pursuing ) </li></ul><ul><li>some experienced as ‘discovery-oriented’ ( authoring ) </li></ul><ul><li>valued? practical, authentic, creative, increased ownership, sense of achievement, personal empowerment and growth </li></ul><ul><li>challenges? fear, ‘process’ challenges (collaboration), need for support </li></ul>
  • 23. Transformations – inquiry in ‘information’ mode <ul><li>“ I think I’ve learned at University, from my course, not to - I think at school, you trust your textbooks, you trust everything a bit too much, I think now I’m learning [to question that] and to do a bit of research and work on the Internet and not believe what everyone tells you” (Psychology). </li></ul><ul><li>“ It used to be, at school, being told something, writing it down, and memorising it […] it’s obviously more independent. With [Modern Language] I still have the sense of someone telling me something … but with History it’s definitely changed” (History and Modern Language). </li></ul>
  • 24. Transformations – inquiry in ‘discovery’ mode <ul><li>“ What I liked about [IBL] was that I got to do - I mean I was freer in a way. [...] I built my own arguments, and that was really, really good for me. I really enjoyed that, because it was free [...] I don’t think you can do that to the same extent in an essay because that mode often is a set question that you have to have – of course you can say if you agree or not agree to what it states, but the question is often based on certain concepts or certain theories, while in this [inquiry] project we could choose our approach by ourselves. That was really good” (Politics). </li></ul><ul><li>“ I think doing something that, this is your project, do what you want with it, it’s scary but […] it’s my, my thing […] I feel like a grown-up person , going into [the research field] I like being able to do your own thing” (Human Communication Science). </li></ul>
  • 25. David’s story <ul><li>Learning is acquiring information and skills </li></ul><ul><li>Disciplinary truths exist but can’t be known for certain - a transitional space in intellectual development </li></ul><ul><li>A ‘confirmation’ conception of research </li></ul><ul><li>Most research/inquiry experience and practice is in ‘identifying’ mode, some (extracurricular) is in ‘producing’ mode </li></ul><ul><li>Learning approach becoming more oriented towards developing own lines of inquiry </li></ul><ul><li>Beginning to identify with his discipline </li></ul><ul><li>An emergent sense of participation in its inquiry practices and of connection with disciplinary knowledge-building </li></ul>
  • 26. Summary <ul><li>Students approaching inquiry from different, usually ‘early-stage’, positions of intellectual development </li></ul><ul><li>Holding differing conceptions of inquiry and research, inflected by their personal epistemologies </li></ul><ul><li>Experiencing inquiry differently in different disciplines, but usually information-oriented and staff-led </li></ul><ul><li>Valuing opportunities for inquiry, especially more student-led and ‘discovery-oriented’ modes </li></ul><ul><li>Developing intellectually and personally through inquiry </li></ul><ul><li>Experiencing challenges and expressing needs for support and guidance </li></ul>
  • 27. Fostering self-authorship - implications for IBL practice? <ul><li>Inquiry tasks that offer authentic experiences of ‘bounded freedom’ – opportunities to ‘grow up’ intellectually and personally </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Information’ and ‘discovery’ tasks that engage students’ own questions and lines of inquiry ( Pursuing, Authoring ) </li></ul><ul><li>Tasks that offer opportunities to extend beyond ‘information’ inquiry towards experiencing the process of knowledge creation (Producing, Authoring) </li></ul><ul><li>An explicit focus on developing students’ reflexivity relating to inquiry and research </li></ul><ul><li>Balance between challenge and support </li></ul>

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