with Virginia S. Lee
Inquiry-guided learning promotes learning through students’ active investigation of questions, problems, and issues, often for which there is no one, single answer. It fosters complex student learning outcomes such as critical thinking, habits of independent inquiry, responsibility for one’s own learning, and intellectual growth and maturity. Advanced by the 1999 Boyer report as a “natural fit” for research universities, inquiry-guided learning blends faculty strength in research with contemporary understanding of how students learn. Faculty at non-research universities will also enjoy experimenting with this demanding constellation of teaching and learning strategies.
For instructors accustomed to traditional models of teaching, inquiry-guided learning requires a significant and exciting shift in perspective about the teaching and learning process. The learning outcomes it advances are more complex. And promoting learning through inquiry also suggests a broader repertoire of teaching and learning strategies and assessment methods.
In a typical workshop, we investigate together the special characteristics of inquiry as an experience through a series of inquiry-guided exercises. We then explore a variety of strategies for making inquiry a central experience in courses bearing in mind the developmental stage of the learner and the instructor’s own assumptions about teaching and learning. In two-day workshops, participants have an opportunity to design a course using inquiry-guided learning.
Colleges and universities may also with to link my visits with larger campus-wide initiatives (including quality enhancement plans for institutions in the SACS accrediting region). In addition to workshops, often these visits include meetings with various campus constituencies such as higher administration, deans, department chairs, and assessment professionals invested in the initiative.
Many campuses benefit from making copies of Teaching and Learning through Inquiry: A Guidebook for Institutions and Instructors (V.S. Lee (Ed.) 2004; Sterling, VA: Stylus) available during my visits. The book describes the inquiry-guided learning initiative at North Carolina State University that I led. Thirty-six contributors from NC State describe their course, program and college-wide curriculum revisions using inquiry-guided learning.