Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) in Higher Education
Inquiry-based learning (IBL) is a teaching strategy that facilitates active learning through a self-directed, question-driven search for understanding that affords the opportunity to explore a subject and develop central questions through their exploration.
Dr. Beth Archer-Kuhn
I am Dr. Beth Archer-Kuhn, associate professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary. With many practice years in the field of social work in clinical and administrative roles, I am as comfortable teaching practice courses such as interviewing skills, group work, and community development to undergraduate and graduate students, as I am teaching qualitative research methods to doctoral students. In preparation for a career in post-secondary education, I completed six courses, level 1 and Level 2, of the University Teaching Certificate (UTC) program. I have learned the value of constructive course alignment (learning activities, assessment tasks, and learning outcomes), and have developed an awareness of my teaching practices, and knowledge of my constructivist pedagogy. These practices are consistent with inquiry-based teaching and learning which I continue to pursue my Teaching Scholar Award project in both teaching practice and research here at the University of Calgary.
- Associate Professor
- +1 (403) 220-5425
Teacher or Facilitator's Role
I see this translating to the classroom quite naturally, in the role of teacher or facilitator. Students bring to the classroom their prior knowledge and various styles and motivations for learning, with lives outside of the classroom that can enhance or complicate their learning experiences. My role as a teacher is to provide an authentic learning environment that encourages growth and development of knowledge and skills through methods that address individual learning styles, co-constructs knowledge, identify and recognize values, and ultimately empower students to achieve their potential through engagement as learners. This reflexive approach encourages the power of relationship, including respect for self and diversity, and is a vehicle that is modeled through the teaching and learning experience.
Encouragement to Paticipants
I believe students need to be invited and encouraged to participate in their learning, to share their knowledge with their peers, and to challenge each other’s thoughts, values and beliefs if they are to become critical thinkers. I view scholarly teachers as people who critically consider the literature on their subject matter, integrated with their own values and beliefs, while encouraging students through their words, expectations, and actions to do the same. One way to invite students to engage in their learning is by providing opportunities for choice in their topics and the ways in which students engage in their learning. I view social justice as not only a goal in social work education but also as the process of education. Similarly, I view student engagement as an issue of social justice.
Adapting Experiential Learning
Given the varied learning preferences of each learner, I have adapted my experiential learning to inquiry-based learning (in a number of courses), fostering a student-centered approach to learning. Students have access to the learning opportunities afforded through choice, and their choice is proving to result in greater engagement of their learning. I am integrating my research and teaching by encouraging self-determination and empowerment through a greater choice of what students learn and the ways in which they learn.
What is Structured Controversy?
“Like a debate, structured controversy requires students to explore a variety of positions, but here students on each side of a controversy are required to summarize the other position to the satisfaction of those who presented it. This means students are to listen carefully to hear exactly what is being said and not just what they think is being said. Structured controversy can be extended by asking students to find common ground and to identify the issues about which they still differ” (Hudspith & Jenkins, 2007).