Vignette 4


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Support resources for the Art of Teaching: Engaging Students in Inquiry Learning video series

These resources are part of the online SCoPE seminar April 2-20, 2012

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Vignette 4

  1. 1. ART OF TEACHING: ENGAGING STUDENTS IN INQUIRY LEARNINGVignette #4Inquiry Through Individual Research in the SciencesFourth Year ~ SciencesThis chapter offers insight into the question: As undergraduate learners enterthe world of independent inquiry and research, what are the challenges andpayoffs?This vignette portrays the rich professional risks and challenges involved in Erick Grootundergraduate inquiry undertaken by students in their final year of sciences. Summary of Themes:Central to this sequence are the experiences of three students as they  Significant personalcomplete their year-long inquiry. They are seen presenting the results of their investment with real riskinquiry to student colleagues, professors, and the other interested members of of failure of inquirythe university community. The interviews with the students at the end of their  Increased self-confidencecourse reveals how they worked with what they perceived to be a very high risk and self-efficacy are clearlearning challenge. outcomes  Emphasis placed onEach student tackled an authentic scientific problem and worked through quality of thinking andfailures and phenomena that were unexpected. They spoke of the personal rigor of inquiry; realitysignificance of the challenges they experienced - how they were ‘real’ and how contextdifferent that was from their normal university learning experiences. Students  Assessment: Criterion-explained how their personal passion was fired by the process. They described based evaluated by self,the role of failure in their learning, and that the real ‘gold’ was often found in peers, community &the discovery of their personal powers of thinking and learning. advisorsErick Groot, a key member of the faculty team, offers an eloquent explanationof the faculty members’ journey through all the ups and downs of making theinquiry process successful. He describes how the students work through theanguishing phase of identifying their central questions, the issues that theyencounter as they search for the right information, and the tenacity theydemonstrate in their efforts to access all the resources needed to carry outtheir inquiry. He explains clearly the process of mentoring and coachingstudents’ inquiry; encouraging, challenging, and celebrating the learning.Augmenting the science students’ experience is Vincent Hopkins with his studyof undergraduate research across a broad sampling of disciplines. He explainshow he learned that undergraduate experience in inquiry learning wasgenerally recognized as transformative for almost all the students involved,irrespective of the discipline. He cited the importance of students having theopportunity to choose and explore deeply a question of personal meaning. Hepaints a picture of how students develop what might be called “adaptiveconfidence” as they work through the challenges of their studies. Professorsand students alike describe the emergence of a professional learningcommunity in which they collectively seek a healthy balance of professionalsupport, critique and interdependence.