EARLI 2015


Marcia Linn Keynote

Guiding Inquiry Teaching and Learning: Partnerships, Progress, and Prospects

Marcia Linn

University of California, Berkley, United States

[Link to video]


To gain insight into how teachers, curricula, and technology can guide students to benefit from inquiry instruction, we have conducted more than 40 comparison studies and four synthesis studies of the literature on inquiry and professional development, visualization, automated guidance, and design of inquiry learning environments. This talk highlights unintended consequences of our designs, collaborations among stakeholders leading to improved guidance, interactions between forms of guidance and prior knowledge, and promising new directions for inquiry investigations.

In our early work we encouraged students to conduct their own explorations using new technologies such as visualizations. Students responded by overwhelming the researchers and the teachers with questions about what to investigate and how to proceed. This unintended consequence motivated us to seek ways to guide students so they could identify their own questions and learn from each other. This research resulted in the knowledge integration framework: a set of design guidelines for focusing student investigations without constraining inquiry.

Our partnership of stakeholders, for example, iteratively refined guidance for interactive scientific visualizations about topics such as climate change, photosynthesis, or graphing stories. The teachers compared their strategies for guiding students and identified ways to help students become more autonomous. The technology experts redesigned the visualizations to reduce confusion and incorporate online guidance suggested by teachers, researchers, and students. We found that (a) asking students to draw intermediate states in chemical reactions is more effective than unguided exploration, (b) segmenting the photosynthesis visualization and asking students to generate explanations for the segments is better than providing the explanations; and (c) knowledge integration guidance is more effective than specific guidance for enabling low prior knowledge students to succeed in inquiry.

Promising prospects for inquiry take advantage of tools for natural language processing and for analyzing student drawings to guide students to revise essays, concept maps, and drawings. I will discuss successes and failures in seeking ways to guide students to distinguish their views from the ideas they encounter in texts, experiments, or arguments and to become lifelong learners.