Scheckler & Barab(2009) define inquiry as, “a process of doubt, followed by a searching for solutions that resolve the doubt, all occurring in a situation and resulting in changed habits” (p. 129). The ILF supports inquiry in two main ways: The most obvious way is to motivate the use of inquiry pedagogy in K-12 math and science classes. The second way in which ILF supports inquiry is that it motivates teachers to reflect upon and inquire into their practice as teachers(Scheckler & Barab, 2009), 2009, p. 126).
The ILF in this situation was dedicated to the topic of Aquatic Salamanders and how teachers can implement them into their classroom as an educational experience. After discussing various questions related to the salamanders (such as, What do they eat? What do we do with them on the weekends?) the teachers registered on a special section of the ILF that was an online forum dedicated to teachers where they could discuss how Aquatic Salamanders were used or could be used in the class room (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 127). The conductors of the ILF had the teachers meet in their presence to observe the impact of discussing the topic in a social setting.
Deweyan Theory believes that learning is a, “cycle of disequilibrium and restoration of equilibrium” (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 128). The initial disequilibrium comes in the form of a challenge or “trigger” and the restoration of equilibrium occurs when a solution is found. There were three very distinct “triggers” for disequilibrium in the ILF. Teachers who wished to provide motivating classroom experiences were triggered by the question, “How to care for salamanders in the classroom.” Teachers of schools where science testing was being introduced were triggered by how to use the salamanders to develop their students' knowledge of science. Teachers who has set lesson plans who noticed a shift in the demographics of their students were triggered by the use of salamanders to engage their students in the topic of science (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, 2009, p. 129).
Dewey’s four aspects of inquiry in the chart above were present in the ILF (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 130) . These aspects can take place in person (as they did in the ILF when the elementary school teachers got together) as well as in online forums. The ILF situation for many teachers is the, “lack of connection with the community” (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 135). Creating a space, or in this case, a forum, for teachers to connect with other teachers and share issues and ideas is a prime example of Dewey’s situation aspect of inquiry. Reasonable Doubt was present when teachers were deciding how to implement the use of the salamanders to benefit the learning needs of the students. Dialogical pluralism was present when teachers actually found the solution and their confusion was eased. Lastly, the habits occurred when the teachers implemented the use of the salamanders into their classroom.
“A central research goal of this work has been to understand the design principles that inform the creation, growth, and fostering of a Web-based community of practice in which the value gained from participation—sharing one individual’s practice and engaging in dialogue—outweighs the ‘costs’ of participation” (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 134).On the website, teachers can view videos of teachers showing reflections of his/her teaching, lesson plan, materials, samples of students work, and discussion forums (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 134). The ILF provides online forums to help teachers escape the isolation of teacher practice and encourage a community of inquirers (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 136).
Teachers want a trusted source when looking for help, but this argues against plurality as a requirement for solutions to the problems of teaching practice (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 139). Pluralism induces tension because teachers that upload videos are getting feedback, and sometimes get embarrassed. Many teachers do not want to participate online because they do not have the time. Others find it “hard to see the ILF as a place for communal reflection and a location to request critical feedback” (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 140). The face to face workshops and meetings were made to foster relationships before members went online. The redesigning of the Web site included small workspaces and private discussion forums meant to meet the needs of already congealed communities of practice (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 142).
A majority of the change in habits were seen in the videos that the teachers posted. When teachers would submit multiple videos, the later posted ones were invariably more “inquiry-based” than the first. (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 142).
According to the Deweyan theory we need to promote difference in order to establish ideas and motivation. “With our Deweyan view of inquiry , we want to promote difference with in the ILF as a source of variability, ideas, and motivation to change practice” (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 144). Designing for sameness and difference is critical to the success of inquiry learning. The familiarity that is associated with sameness gives the participants comfort, while the difference help them critically think. In my school we are critically thinking on a constant basis on ways to make education more adaptable to the ever growing modern technology boom. We can develop these skills as a collective group for mutual benefit (Facione, 2007). I believe that Facione (2007) is correct in believing that the skills to think critical need to be developed in groups mutually. For this reason, my school has paired teachers and students to determine the best possible learning experiences by thinking critically. With more insights and broader development of issues, we are better able to comprehend and predict changes in every aspect of our school community including modern technology. The ILF has demonstrated this concept using inquiry circles. Inquiry circles give participants both sameness and difference (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 144). Inquiry circles are small interest groups that participate in workshops that arise from common interest allowing groups to feel comfortable, which is associated with sameness. Other discussions on unfamiliar situations that arose with different attitudes helped the participants think critically and engage in dialogue that was different. In some cases inquiry circles limit difference during face to face interaction, however there are positive influences associated with the comfort levels (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 144).Promoting sameness and comfort is a goal with the ILG, while having critical discussion and dialogue that is different. “Our experiences with the ILF indicate much concern with trust” (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 145). During inquiry trust is very important because it allows teachers to feel support emotionally and socially (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 145). To promote trust the ILF created smaller inquiry groups (10-20 members), with facilitators to engage in a topic of dialogue. “We suggest that small groups allow development of trust in a more personal and limited setting, limit difference, and provide common group for dialogue” (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 145).The ILF creates bounded group that centers attention on intimate and private, common discussion that in some cases could be to public for other ILF members. Bounded groups also create trust but moreover, endorse lively, passionate discussion. Class discussion is sometimes required and analyzed by an instructor to present feedback. These “discussion board postings” were a very effective teaching technique in which critical dialogue was promoted and questions were raised and posed to other members of the bounded group. In essence, bounded groups limit difference while inquiry circles are filled with more risk takers and critical engagement (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 146).
In creating ILF’s we should always follow Dewey’s Theory of Inquiry to promote situations, reasonable doubt, dialogical pluralism, habit, and sameness and difference. These are the essential concepts that allow inquiry learning to work, while fostering trust and the commitment to learning in virtual settings. Face to face groups allow trust to be created while fostering critical dialogue. It is noted that smaller groups foster more trust and comfort then larger public groups. Designers have the important role of creating these virtual online spaces. “Thus, designers have a tremendously important role when building an online space. They are not simply designing a set of technical spaces, but potentially manipulating social transactions and the resultant meaning for participants” (Scheckler & Barab, 2009, p. 146). Thee ILF’s promote simulation and real world meaning to learning and practice. Participants will be able to use the ILF to feel comfortable with not only the virtual spaces but also spaces outside if the virtual classroom.
Chapter 5Designing for Inquiry as a Social PracticeRebecca K. Schekler and Sasha A. Barab EDUC 532-901 Winter 2010-2011 Term Week 5 JigSaw Team Project Group 5 Chad DiLella Jaclyn Klunder Nicole Tsoflias
Background on the Inquiry Learning Forum (ILF) What is inquiry? Central focus of the ILF is inquiry in a social setting Designed around a “visiting the classroom” metaphor Supports Professional Development of Math and Science Teachers
Framework for the ILF 10 elementary school teachers entered a classroom where Aquatic Salamanders were present
The teachers registered on the ILF website, specifically an online forum dedicated for teachers to discuss the implementation of Aquatic Salamanders into the classroom.
Some Aspects of a Deweyan Theory of Inquiry “Cycle of disequilibrium and restoration of equilibrium.” “Trigger” for disequilibrium that can lead to growth can take many different forms Example 1: How to care for Salamanders in the classroom Example 2: Science testing Example 3: New lesson plans
e-ILF ILF’s Web site includes Videos of teachers engaged in inquiry Discussion forums Library of teaching ideas and resources Activities for learning inquiry techniques Allows teachers to communicate “The classroom, as the main habitat of the teacher, is notorious for its closed doors, isolation, and lack of connection with the community” (Drayton & Falk, 2009, p. 135).
Pluralism in the ILF Teachers look to teachers they know for advice, goes against pluralism Dewey stressed the necessity of pluralism as a source of diversity that fuels inquiry Plurality induces tension in the ILF To encourage sociability of members, ILF made face to face workshops and redesigned the Web site
Changed Habits, Restoration of Equilibrium ILF attempts to conduct professional development online Hard to see change in habits online Teachers tend to read online forums more than they contribute Some changed practice seen in multiple videos posted by teachers
Design Implications Sameness vs. Difference Promote Difference Inquiry Circles Trust Small Inquiry groups Bounded Groups
Conclusion Use Dewey’s Theory of Inquiry Situations, reasonable doubt, dialogical pluralism, habit Face to face interaction Create both smaller and larger groups Designers are important to the inquiry learning process
Works Cited: Scheckler, R. K., & Barab, S. A. (2009). Designing for Inquiry as a Social. In B. Drayton, & J. Falk, Creating and Sustaining Online Professional Learning Communities (pp. 125-152). New York: Teachers College Press. Facione, P.A. (2007). Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Counts - 2007 Update. Retrieved from: www.insightassessment.com.