"Doubt is the incentive to truth and inquiry leads the way."
- Attributed to Hosea Ballou
Unit ten of the Flipped Learning Level II certification course was focused on the how flipped learning supports inquiry-based learning (IBL), facilitated by Ramsay Musallam and Enoch Ng. There was, unfortunately, video issues when Jon Bergmann and Ramsay were recording their segments and as a result, not much of the video content of Ramsay was usable.
I have to say up front that I struggled with this particular unit. What I have heard about IBL in the past has been that it is rather wishy-washing and lacking in evidence to support it. Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark published an article in 2006 titled Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching (available here), in which the first sentence of the conclusion states that "(a)fter a half-century of advocacy associated with instruction using minimal guidance, it appears that there is no body of research supporting the technique." The authors do state their definition of minimal guidance pedagogy in the article, including inquiry-based learning in that. There is also this:
"Interestingly, PISA 2013 found a negative correlation in all participating countries between a ‘student-orientation’ and maths results, with the construct roughly mapping onto some forms of inquiry. Even more strikingly, PISA 2015 found a negative association between increased use of ‘enquiry’ methods in science class and science performance."
- Retrieved from https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2017/11/18/a-toolkit-to-help-you-resist-inquiry-based-learning/ on 26 January 2018
I do need to make it clear that my understanding of inquiry-based learning has been based upon what I have seen written about in blogs discussing the research, and a few articles, many by the above three authors. I am not intimately familiar with it as a particular pedagogical strategy.
What I write below is of course my own understanding / interpretation of what was said, and it is not my intention to misrepresent the process. If I have got it wrong, please let me know - I am always happy to engage in dialogue. Ramsay and Enoch define IBL as being a general term for letting students' questions be the starting point for lessons, with teachers activating students' prior knowledge to create the awareness/information gap. Students ask questions on the topic, exploring it to find their own answers at which point they engage with the learning object, and then apply that updated knowledge or schema in some way through active learning activities.
Ramsay refers his model of inquiry as explore, flip, apply. This is the part that is leaving me feeling uncertain; I know what I have heard and read about IBL, however, I do not feel that this is inquiry, merely a fairly standard process - ascertain preconceptions and prior knowledge, address them through explicit teaching via a learning object, and then apply this to ensure the correct understanding and schema are embedded, not the misconceptions.
Jon asked them directly, why should teachers engage with IBL and they responded that it is how the human brain works, we are inherently curious creatures, trying to work out how and why things happen which creates problem solvers and which can be used to create problem finders. I know from watching Miss One that she is fascinated with trying to understand how things work and conducting experiments, as only a toddler can to understand it.
I am not sure how I feel about IBL. I know what I have read from the research and this has not convinced me that IBL works and the research is wrong. That said, it was not intended to do so and only gave a very brief overview of what Ramsay's model of IBL is. I would encourage anyone who is a proponent of IBL to get in touch via the comments below, or if Ramsay or Enoch happen to read this, to expound on your thoughts in more detail.
As always, thank you for reading.