This practitioner conference brought to life the full breadth and diversity of the inquiry-based ‘movement’. From problem based learning in a medical context through to action research in the workplace there was an invigorating feeling of university staff striving to make learning more relevant for their students and of students responding to the challenge of complexity and uncertainty, but with the reward of authentic learning that these approaches tend to bring.
David’s keynote was a highlight for me as a compelling vision and strategy of how a learning experience for students can be transformed at an institutional level. Informed by Kegan’s personal development theory (1994) – a sequential process through which individuals can move over time from the first to the fifth order of consciousness over their lifetime, and the the ‘liberal arts’ tradition from US undergraduate education that encourages us to focus not simply on the subject but the broader development of the individual’s intellectual skills: criticality; ethical judgement; civic responsibility; collaborative problem solvng, etc.
“Student as Scholar Model represents the far end of the educational spectrum, specifically progressing from an instructional paradigm that emphasizes telling students what they need to know, to a learning paradigm that emphasizes inquiry in shaping how students learn what they need to know within the traditional academic context, and culminating in a discovery paradigm that encourages students to seek and discover new knowledge, emphasizing inquiry with no boundaries.”
David’s rigid application of Kegan’s theory overlaying a four year undergraduate experience from age 18 to 22 made me feel uncomfortable, coming as I do from a belief that individuals develop at different rates not necessarily correlating to their age. However, the BIG idea that learners can be “authorities and creators of knowledge” is something I believe to be true as demonstrated by the action research undertaken by undergraduate student researchers on the Ultraversity project.