Sunday, September 25, 2011

Teaching for Meaningful Learning: A Review of Research on Inquiry-Based and Cooperative Learning

Darling-Hammond, L. (2008). Powerful learning: what we know about teaching for understanding. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.

The first chapter starts out by giving a brief history of how education has been evolving over the past twenty years.  Previously most jobs required certain basic skills designed by others to follow and produce a product.  Currently employees must create, collaborate and innovate to remain relevant and competitive.  Clearly the old model of education would not be effective to prepare students.
The authors give an in depth overview of the benefits of three types of inquiry based learning:  project-based learning, problem-based learning, and learning by design.  Students learn twentieth century skills, by working collaboratively to solve problems.  The outcomes were students that performed better and that were engaged in the work they were doing.  Students were able to define problems and find solutions.  They took a more active role in their learning.
This chapter helped me understand better the differences between the three types of inquiry-based learning.  Also, the authors acknowledge that implementing this type of learning is challenging, even to experienced teachers.  It is essential teachers have support and time to develop a system that works for students.   I appreciated this, since I am embarking on teaching inquiry based projects and am feeling the need for both support and time. 

Relevant Quotes/Concepts:

“Active learning practices have a more significant impact on student performance than any other variable, including student background and prior achievement.”

“Students are most successful when they are taught how to learn as well as what to learn.”

“When teachers don’t fully understand the complexities of inquiry-based learning, they may simply think of this approach “unstructured,” and may, as a result, fail to provide proper scaffolding, assessment, and redirection as projects unfold.”

“Research has identified at least three major challenges for cooperative learning in classrooms: developing norms and structures within groups that allow individuals to work together; developing tasks that support useful cooperative work; and developing discipline-appropriate strategies for discussion that support rich learning of content.”

1 comment:

Stacey Caillier said...

These are really interesting quotes. I was especially struck by the one about inquiry looking "unstructured." Folks who visit HTH often assume that PBL or inquiry is unstructured, when in actuality, there are many structures that need to be in place to have it work well! And as you note, teachers need support and time to do it!

I'm intrigued about "the differences between the three types of inquiry-based learning" - what are the differences as you see them? Which approach are you most drawn to (or what elements)?

Heather, it looks like you read several articles/chapters this week (rather than just one) and completely went above and beyond! Don't feel like you need to expand on all of my questions, but perhaps just return to the article you were most drawn to and give us some details.

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