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Wondering + online inquiry = learning

TitreWondering + online inquiry = learning
Type de publicationArticle de revue
Année de publication2014
AuteursSekeres, D. Carver, Coiro J., Castek J., & Guzniczak L. A.
RevuePhi Delta Kappan

Learning what happens as elementary school children read and make meaning of the text and images they see is fascinating, especially when the reading is done in the context of children’s interactions with each other and with online information. But such online inquiry tends to happen with students sitting closely together at a computer or a tablet, when all you can see is the backs of their heads. So how do we know the time they’re spending in inquiry is productive? What influence does a project’s design have on children’s work? Is the chatter that we hear helpful for their thinking and learning?

We have found carefully structured tasks that scaffold the ability to question, navigate, and negotiate the meaning of online text, and we have discovered that images can foster collaborations that are engaging, deeply comprehensive, and fruitful (Coiro et al., 2014). Inquiry-based learning engages students in collecting information, analyzing data, and crafting presentations that create solutions or make arguments. Students be come more positive and independent in their learning while gaining new knowledge and meaningful understandings of their world. Yet designing assignments that scaffold inquiry is often necessary to support students’ efforts. Structured inquiry experiences can help learners develop skills for coping with problems that have no clear solutions, dealing with challenges, and adapting procedures to the demands of different situations (Alberta Learning, 2004).

Our research findings reinforce what others have suggested — that while students follow general patterns in thinking and collaboration, the inquiry process “is not linear or lock step. It is highly individual, nonlinear, flexible, and more recursive than might be suggested in traditional models of the research process” (Alberta Learning, 2004, p. 9). Thus, depending on the purposes of inquiry and the abilities of students, there are different ways to frame inquiries to support student success.

Alberta’s model of inquiry-based learning delineates four gradually less restrictive frameworks designed to encourage students’ wondering with authentic inquiry tasks (see Figure 1). We found that the design of a structured online inquiry supports children’s success in grades 3-5. We also uncovered certain patterns in how children read and talk about their work that enable them to be productive during various phases of the inquiry process.