How Does Inquiry Based Learning Affect Students?


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A presentation delivered by Graham Jones from ScHaRR: The School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield that discussed the theory of 'capabilities' and how this relates to Inquiry-based learning.

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How Does Inquiry Based Learning Affect Students?

  1. 1. How does Inquiry Based Learning affect students’ capabilities? Graham Jones School of Health and Related Research [email_address]
  2. 2. Structure <ul><li>Acknowledgments </li></ul><ul><li>What are capabilities? </li></ul><ul><li>Capabilities in practice : Nussbaum, Alkire </li></ul><ul><li>(How) are they relevant to (higher) education and pedagogy (Walker and her categorisations)? </li></ul><ul><li>This case study: IBL and capabilities </li></ul><ul><li>Methods </li></ul><ul><li>Findings </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
  3. 3. Acknowledgements <ul><li>Dave Phillips </li></ul><ul><li>Sarah Barnes </li></ul><ul><li>Jenny Owen </li></ul><ul><li>Sabine Little </li></ul><ul><li>CILASS </li></ul><ul><li>MPH students </li></ul>
  4. 4. What are capabilities? - Sen <ul><li>Nobel laureate, Amartya Sen first used the word ‘capability’ in its present meaning in 1979 to refer to an approach to well-being in terms of freedoms : to choose among various alternatives including: ‘being happy; achieving self-respect; taking part in the life of the community’. </li></ul><ul><li>Capabilities are to do with the freedom to pursue valuable ‘doings’ and ‘beings’ in order to flourish as a human being. Central to this approach is the notion of a capability set which refers to the alternative combinations of things a person is able to do or be. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Capabilities: some aspects <ul><li>Central to Human development approach and provides philosophical and theoretical underpinnings to United Nation Human Development reports, and Human development Index </li></ul><ul><li>Both a (the?) goal of “Development”, and the means of achieving it (Sen, 1999) </li></ul><ul><li>Provides a broad enough evaluative space for understanding and investigating “all” human development </li></ul><ul><li>Inherently inter-disciplinary with potential applications in political philosophy, welfare economics, development studies, health, education etc etc </li></ul><ul><li>Distinguishes between capability (opportunity) and functioning (achievement, or realisation) </li></ul>
  6. 6. So what are capabilities? - Nussbuam <ul><li>Sen never says: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It’s the freedom to choose between them that’s important </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Important to leave room for reasoned public debate </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Nussbaum proposes a defined list of capabilities as the basis for fundamental political principles (“such as might be embodied in a nation’s constitution)” (Nussbaum, 2004) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The “moral entitlement of every human being” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Abstract but capable of local translation and deliberation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Derived from a (her) conception of the dignity of the human being, and of a life that is worthy of that dignity </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Nussbaum’s list - 1 <ul><li>Life : being able to live to the end of a normal human life. </li></ul><ul><li>Bodily health : being able to have good health, including reproductive health. </li></ul><ul><li>Bodily integrity : being able to move freely, secure against assault; having opportunities for sexual satisfaction and choice in reproduction. </li></ul><ul><li>Senses, imagination and thought : freedom of use and expression of all three. </li></ul><ul><li>Emotions : not to be blighted by fear, anxiety, abuse or neglect. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Nussbaum’s list - 2 <ul><li>Practical reason : being able to engage in critical reflection – including the use of conscience. </li></ul><ul><li>Affiliation : to be able to interact, show compassion etc. to have friendships. </li></ul><ul><li>Other species : concern for animals, plants and the world of nature. </li></ul><ul><li>Play : being able to laugh and enjoy recreation. </li></ul><ul><li>Control over one’s environment : political and material Freedom of assembly and speech. </li></ul><ul><li>Being able to live one’s life: choice over childbearing, sexuality, speech and employment </li></ul>
  9. 9. Alkire <ul><li>Nussbaum is inherently philosophical, but you can identify “dimensions” of human development (the primary colours of values) </li></ul><ul><li>Desire to operationalise capabilities in social realities of poor people </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rose growing versus literacy versus goat herding in rural Pakistan </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Uses a participatory practical reasoning approach, that covers all the dimensions </li></ul><ul><li>Puts the focus on how you arrive at capabilities (“facilitators wore simple clothing”) </li></ul>
  10. 10. So why are they interesting? <ul><li>Education as extension of human capabilities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Go beyond instrumental views of education – “get that job” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Focus on what people are actually able to be and to do (not abstract rights) </li></ul><ul><li>Rooted in Aristotelian notions of human flourishing - virtue </li></ul><ul><li>Inherently inter-disciplinary </li></ul><ul><li>Connects the world of education to the “real world” – the same evaluative space </li></ul>
  11. 11. Walker’s use of capabilities <ul><li>Uses the notion of ‘functional capabilities’ to capture the importance in education of both capability (opportunity) and functioning (achievement) </li></ul><ul><li>In depth interviews and focus groups with students, 3 rd year undergraduate South African history, and “Protection of the environment” modules </li></ul><ul><li>Analysed using Alkire’s methods for identifying and measuring valued opportunities and achievements </li></ul><ul><li>Output: Vague and thick (discipline specific?) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Walker’s functional capabilities (thin version) <ul><li>Knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Social relations </li></ul><ul><li>Critical thinking </li></ul><ul><li>Imagination and empathy </li></ul><ul><li>Recognition and respect </li></ul><ul><li>Active and experiential learning </li></ul><ul><li>Autonomy </li></ul><ul><li>Confidence </li></ul><ul><li>Active citizenship </li></ul><ul><li>Deliberative dialogue </li></ul><ul><li>Having economic opportunity </li></ul>
  13. 13. Some issues with Walker <ul><li>Are they “complete”? </li></ul><ul><li>Are they “orthogonal”? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the contexts or domains (the educational world, the “real” world)? </li></ul><ul><li>How exactly did she arrive at her list? </li></ul><ul><li>How do they relate to other lists? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Nussbaum vs Walker <ul><li>Life </li></ul><ul><li>Bodily health </li></ul><ul><li>Bodily integrity </li></ul><ul><li>Senses, imagination and thought </li></ul><ul><li>Emotions </li></ul><ul><li>Practical reason </li></ul><ul><li>Affiliation </li></ul><ul><li>Other species </li></ul><ul><li>Play </li></ul><ul><li>Control over one’s environment </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Critical thinking </li></ul><ul><li>Imagination and empathy </li></ul><ul><li>Recognition and respect </li></ul><ul><li>Active and experiential learning </li></ul><ul><li>Social relations </li></ul><ul><li>Autonomy </li></ul><ul><li>Confidence </li></ul><ul><li>Active citizenship </li></ul><ul><li>Deliberative dialogue </li></ul><ul><li>Having economic opportunity </li></ul>
  15. 15. This case study <ul><li>HAR618 International Health Systems and Policy, part of Masters in Public Health </li></ul><ul><li>Designed and delivered using IBL approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Inquiries: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Success or otherwise of Kerala “model” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why are markets so popular in UK health policy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How to improve quality of life in rural Gambia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is the impact of Global actors on an individual country </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Very diverse student body (34 students from 17 countries), some with considerable life experience </li></ul><ul><li>How do you evaluate impact of IBL (a lot of “how to” stuff) </li></ul>
  16. 16. Some limitations <ul><li>It’s a case study: won’t tell you whether IBL is better than other methods on whether it delivers different capabilities from more conventional pedagogies </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluations have their own discourse, frames of reference </li></ul><ul><li>Do we really encourage students to think about (and tell us about) the full impact of the learning experience on their lives? </li></ul><ul><li>Unspoken assumptions (e.g. life, bodily integrity) </li></ul><ul><li>Capabilities and Walker’s categories an afterthought (even though capability theory is used as part of the subject matter of the module) </li></ul><ul><li>Snapshot data: doesn’t really capture how people change </li></ul><ul><li>Haven’t done full data analysis as yet </li></ul>
  17. 17. Data <ul><li>Evaluations of each inquiry by 2 side questionnaire with some rating, but open-ended questions </li></ul><ul><li>Now had 2 runnings of module, and in middle of third </li></ul><ul><li>In depth interviews with 3 students (first running of module) </li></ul>
  18. 18. Data analysis <ul><li>All comments coded using Walker’s categories </li></ul><ul><li>Those that didn’t fit, analysed further and new categories established </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>“ Difficult at first but very rewarding” </li></ul>
  20. 20. Findings: distribution across categories <ul><li>The popular categories </li></ul><ul><li>Social relations, Active and experiential learning , Knowledge, Confidence </li></ul><ul><li>The less popular categories </li></ul><ul><li>Autonomy, Critical thinking, recognition and respect, deliberative dialogue </li></ul><ul><li>The least popular/unpopulated categories </li></ul><ul><li>Imagination and empathy, active citizenship, economic opportunity </li></ul>
  21. 21. Findings: the “missing” categories <ul><li>Information literacy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Resources, quality, quantity, accessibility, usability </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Constraints </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Workload, time available, other group members </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Difficulty and motivation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Taxing, hard, challenging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interesting, motivating, fascinating </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Overcoming difficulties, pain/pleasure in learning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Skills </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Making presentations, leading groups </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Some results <ul><li>IBL fairly well attuned to some elements on the Walker list e.g. active and experiential learning </li></ul><ul><li>We’re dominated by preset learning outcome, rather than negotiated capability </li></ul><ul><li>There is some exercise of capability in “module choice” and programme choice </li></ul>
  23. 23. Reflections on findings: power <ul><li>Very little explicit mention, but some indirect references e.g. views ignored by other group members </li></ul><ul><li>Implicit in Social Relations? </li></ul><ul><li>The category that dare not speak its name? </li></ul><ul><li>Freirian (Brechtian) pedagogies? </li></ul>
  24. 24. Reflections on findings <ul><li>Are all capabilities born equal? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is the relative importance of different capabilities? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do different students value different capabilities ? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Students implicitly undertake a difficulty/workload/capability calculus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is this where Valuing of educational capabilities takes place? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can we make this explicit? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Importance of motivation (and trust in educational process?) </li></ul><ul><li>How much does education change students views on their valued capabilities (better informed choices?) </li></ul>
  25. 25. Reflections on findings: Walker <ul><li>Does her collapse of functioning and capabilities into functional capabilities just muddy the water ? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is active and experiential learning really a capability? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Are the categories too imprecise, too inter-related? </li></ul><ul><li>Are the capabilities identified designed for success in the educational world or the real world? </li></ul>
  26. 26. Reflections on findings: negative capabilities <ul><li>(“negative” questions: what did you least like?) </li></ul>
  27. 27. Does IBL increase student capability? <ul><li>Yes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Almost by definition (“active and experiential learning”) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IBL involves greater student choice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some positive evidence for changes in capabilities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Students educational capabilities or their life-chance capabilities? </li></ul><ul><li>Some evidence that it can change students perceptions of capabilities, and students engage in capability trade-offs </li></ul>
  28. 28. Does capability offer a good evaluative approach for IBL? <ul><li>Positives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pedagogies and policies can be in same framework </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interdisciplinary, but can be made context/discipline/sensitive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can be participative and negotiated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can connect educational world and real world </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Negatives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Difficult to pin down </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does it really offer something new? </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Some talking points <ul><li>The indirect affects of capabilities : economic opportunity has a lot of by-products! </li></ul><ul><li>Qualification or capability? </li></ul><ul><li>Social construction of capabilities: interdependence of learning e.g. lecturers determining group allocation to maximise diversity, and avoid cliques </li></ul><ul><li>Do students and lecturers value different capabilities? </li></ul><ul><li>How much should we/can we negotiate the capabilities? </li></ul><ul><li>Capturing the dynamism of good learning processes </li></ul>
  30. 30. Some key references <ul><li>Alkire, S. 2002. Valuing freedoms . Oxford: Oxford University Press </li></ul><ul><li>Nussbaum, Martha. 2003. Capabilities as fundamental entitlements: Sen and social justice. Feminist Economics , 9, 33–59. </li></ul><ul><li>Robeyns, I. 2006 Three models of education: Rights, capabilities and human capital. Theory and Research in Education , 4 (1) 69-84. </li></ul><ul><li>Sen, Amartya. 1993. Capability and well-being. In Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen (eds), The Quality of Life . Oxford: Clarendon Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Sen, Amartya. 1999. Development as Freedom . New York: Knopf. </li></ul><ul><li>E. Unterhalter and L. Terzi (2005, ongoing), Capability and Thematic Group Bibliographic Database, </li></ul><ul><li>M. Walker(2005), Higher Education Pedagogies: A Capability Approach (Open University Press) </li></ul><ul><li>Walker, M. (2008). A human capabilities framework for evaluating student learning. Teaching in Higher Education , 13 (4), 477-487. </li></ul><ul><li>Walker, M. (2008) Human capability, mild perfectionism and thickened educational praxis, Pedagogy, Culture & Society , 16(2),149 — 162 </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>“ In the early morning I pick flowers. When I do this, I feel I have done sawab – holy work. Inner peace comes ” </li></ul><ul><li>Dadi Taja, rose cultivator </li></ul>