When inquiry is front and center, teachers and students discover that each discipline, or area of study, has its own way of investigating, bringing forward evidence, communicating and generating knowledge.
As we’ve mentioned before, discipline-based inquiry is a distinctive way of thinking about the world. It examines the work of those who are advancing knowledge among a profession, or discipline of study. How would a scientist solve this problem? How do experts in the field go about learning more? Students who engage in this more rigorous way of learning within a discipline gain a more in-depth understanding of the topic at hand, beyond a superficial acquaintance of the facts. As teachers apprentice learners into the ways of knowing, doing and being used by disciplinary experts, and students work in a variety of subject disciplines, they should learn their way around a discipline while engaging in authentic intellectual tasks that create new knowledge or build on existing knowledge.
In the Focus on Inquiry study, researchers referred to the eight dimensions of inquiry. They are discussed in detail here, but we’ll quickly mention them: authenticity, academic rigour, assessment, beyond the school, use of technology, active exploration, connecting with experts and elaborated communication. These eight dimensions describe changes to classroom practices that are needed to support the development of discipline-based inquiry.
We’ll be unpacking each of the eight dimensions while revealing what Galileo researchers saw as they observed classrooms throughout Alberta during the Focus on Inquiry study. You can read or download the full study here.