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Professional Inquiry

   Galileo Educational Network    March 24, 2016    Focus On Inquiry Research Series

Discipline-based inquiry has been shown to positively impact student achievement and provide intellectually engaging learning environments. Timperley (2008) states

To engage in professional inquiry that makes a difference for students, teachers need to learn how to identify the pedagogical content knowledge and skills they need to assist their students to achieve the valued outcomes. The core question is, “What do we as teachers need to learn to promote the learning of our students?” Most models of professional inquiry focus on structures and processes. Missing from such models is the nature of the content or understandings to be developed and the skills to be refined (specified through an inquiry process) and the relationship between teacher inquiry and student outcomes. For professional inquiry to have an impact on outcomes, these elements are crucial. (pg. 13)

In this grade 6 discipline-based inquiry, students mirrored the processes that an author would go through, students carefully and thoughtfully recreated new stories that played off of the original. Learn more.

At times it can be difficult for educators to see a clear connection between educational theory, emerging and established research, and what needs to be accomplished in daily classroom life. Design-based research where design solutions draw upon cycles of inquiry to improve professional inquiry is effective in improving learning. Within design-based research, solutions to complex problems of practice are conceptualized and then implemented and studied collaboratively by researchers and teachers in natural settings. Design-based research is used to study an innovation as it is being enacted. It can serve as a response to the call for change and innovation within our education system. It’s also the methodology used during the Focus on Inquiry study. Researcher/teacher teams designed intellectually engaging tasks with attention to assessment practices rooted in the learning sciences. Through this design-based research and professional inquiry, teachers learned to:

The processes and ways of knowing inherent in the engineering field, helped to guide these teachers as they designed this discipline-based inquiry task for students. Students were tasked with building their own sleds that would travel effectively down a slope. Learn more.
  • Identify what deep understandings their students must build to make learning advances;
  • Collaborate with colleagues, researchers and mentors (in this case, from the Galileo Educational Network) to design worthwhile tasks, activities and assessments for their students directed towards building these understandings;
  • Bring forward evidence of student learning to determine the ways in which their students built deep understanding;
  • Discern which instructional practices led to improved student learning and understanding; and
  • Assess the impact of these improved or changed teaching practices on student learning.