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Design for learning and the research/teaching nexus Inquiry

Phillippa Levy presentation at LAMS 09 conference, 7th July 09

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Gráinne Conole
7 July 2009

Philippa Levy - University of Sheffield talking about the inquiry-based learning work at the CILASS CETL.

  • Design for learning and the research/teaching nexus
  • Inquiry – action of seeking for truth, knowledge or information concerning something; search, research, investigation, examination
  • Design work out the structure or form of something as by making a sketch, outline, pattern or plans; plan and make something artistically or skilfully form or concrete of in the mind, invent
  • Design a finished artistic or decorative creation a plan, scheme or project, a coherent or purposeful pattern


  • The research/teaching nexus and the relationship between them and where inquiry sits and how we can better design for inquiry (purposes, practices and tools); students as (co)designers
  • Boyer report 1998 report on educating American under graduates
  • The ecology of a university depends on a deep and abiding understanding that inquiry, investigation and discovery are at the heart of the enterprise. …Everyone at a university should be a discoverer, a learner. I.E. inquiry-based learning at the heart of the curriculum from year one.
  • Links back to von Humbolt, 1810, founder of Berlin University – the notion of a university as a research communities – teachers and students Both Learning and Researchers
  • Pedagogies of inquiry  - collaborative activity of student and teacher through inquiry
  • Barnett, 2007 A pedagogy of joint discovery
  • Brew 2006 induct students into various forms of inquiry
  • Ramsden 2008 All curricula should incorporate research-based study for undergraduate

Inquiry-based learning at Sheffield University

  • Organised around students engaged in a process of inquiry
  • Emphasises students’ capacity to create their own knowledge: investigating authentic often open-ended questions or themes, adopting the practice of scholarship or research of their disciplines or professional areas, exploring a knowledge-based activity and potentially contributing new knowledge to it
  • Encourages peer to peer collaboration
  • Provides support for inquiry in form of activities, assessment, etc
  • Provides guidance on relevant inquiry methods
  • Support for development of information literacy, critical thinking self reflection etc
  • Opportunities o share theory results with peers and others

CILASS 2009 Model of inquiry

  • At the core self-reflection and self-evaluation: non-linear model of inquiry
  • Inquiring students and Web 2.0: owning and directing their experience, participating, collaborating and social networking, producing and co-creating: generating, repurposing and sharing content, accessing multiple sources, using a wide variety of tools and environments, creating personal learning networks and environments

Levy 2009 Conceptual framework for different modes of inquiry learning

  • Pursuing: What is the existing answer to my question
  • Authoring: How can I answer my question
  • Indentifying: What is the existing answer to this question
  • Producing: How can I answer this question

How can we move students from the information forms of inquiry to the more discovery forms of inquiry

Design for learning
Planning and documentation of activities and preparation of associated content resource
Student ownership
Large student cohorts
How can we apply high impact inquiry forms from day 1
Supporting transition from solely information-oriented inquiry to discovery-oriented inquiry
Designing for progression through levels of study
Embedding support for information and digital literacy development
Connecting students inquires to the scholarly and research activities of the university
Circulating exemplars of student-led designs

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