Active reflection is fundamental to teachers and learners who are serious about producing and sustaining the conditions for effective learning. A learning-focused relationship based on principles of openness, honesty and mutual respect requires that both teacher and student spend time, individually and together, considering how they genuinely have experienced the learning process, assessing the effectiveness of the learning, and reflecting on the quality of the learning.
Absolum, 2006, page 142
At the end of your inquiry, it is vital to evaluate your change, and reflect on its effectiveness. This reflection and evaluative data gathering needs to be completed as close to the inquiry as possible, to get the most accurate results.
Be critical - of your methods and the process:
- Did your intervention improve the situation that was the start of your inquiry?
- If the aim was to improve student achievement, did that happen?
- Was any change in student achievement significant?
- What else happened that you didn’t expect?
- How do your results compare with other similar studies you can find?
- Does the result give you the confidence to make the change permanent?
As you will find from your evaluation, there is no guarantee that your changed practice has solved everything. Sometimes what you have tried may need to be given more time, or may need more adjustment. It is crucial for your students that when you go through the process of teaching as inquiry you allow yourself to learn from what is happening in the classroom, and not just take those results that confirm existing thinking.
Ways to evaluate
- repeat original data gathering to compare results
- look for patterns, wonderings and "wow" moments in reflective journals or logs
- compare your data with research data
- ask a colleague to observe your students in class
Teaching as inquiry at Koputaroa School
Koputaroa School principal Regan Orr introduced and led teaching as inquiry throughout the school, resulting in a collaborative, supportive, and motivational learning experience for all. This story outlines that change as well as looking at practical steps to take when evaluating a teacher inquiry.
Tool for analysis and evaluation of your inquiry
from: Celebrating transformational shifts in teacher practice and student achievement in literacy
Reflection enables you to identify:
- strategies that have gone well and should be repeated,
- others that may need further adjustment,
- and those that have not worked at all.
ERO (2012), found that when teachers were engaged in the most robust reflective processes, they:
- were reflective whether they were working with their colleagues or teaching in their classrooms
- attempted to make sense of aspects of their practice that were perplexing or challenging, and sought to identify areas of practice that could be improved
- had an orientation to be creative, innovative and responsive about how to solve teaching challenges
- engaged in inner dialogue or self-talk that had a clear focus on improving learning
- were aware of the principles of effective teaching, and used these to evaluate their programmes and to make choices about next teaching steps
- saw reflection as a necessary and ongoing aspect of their professional growth.
"I understand inquiry to be a process of systematic, rigorous and critical reflection about professional practice, and the contexts in which it occurs, in ways that question taken-for-granted assumptions. Its purpose is to inform decision-making for action. Inquiry can be undertaken individually, but it is most powerful when it is collaborative. It involves educators pursuing their “wonderings” (Hubbard and Power, 1993), seeking answers to questions or puzzles that come from real world observations and dilemmas" (2004, page 3).
Leading teaching as inquiryIn this excerpt from a presentation at ULearn 15, Miranda Makin discusses teaching as inquiry at Albany Senior High School, with specific focus on how she guides the inquiry process.
Where to next?
A phrase not usually heard around inquiry is "I'm finished". Rather, the question is Where to now?
Published on: 06 Nov 2015
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