Our Conference Theme:
The Inquiring Learner
One of the most difficult aspects of teaching is determining how to help students make the transition from being passive recipients of information toward a state in which they know what questions to ask, how to ask them, and how to deal with the response. But these are the foundation skills for life-long learning and the key for success in the workplace. When employers are asked what traits they most desire in university graduates, what tops the list are independent initiative and problem-solving skills, closely followed by the capacity for teamwork and communication. And these are precisely the capacities that define the inquiring learner.
Is it possible to create an educational climate that fosters inquiry and independent learning among our students? We believe it is, though the process is never easy. Inquiry starts with a question; there may be blind alleys and false leads to be encountered along the way before the answer is discovered. In the end the answer may remain elusive. But the process itself sharpens skills of observation, analysis, and communication. When pursued in a group, it also requires participants to work as a team.
Over three days in Durham we will be considering both the promise and the pitfalls associated with learning through inquiry, hosted by Durham University — home to one of Great Britain’s premier schools of education. In the course of the conference we hope to elaborate a series of practical suggestions for training and encouraging independent learners. We hope you will be able to join us there.
Six sub-themes underlie the overall conference topic:
- Foundations for independent learning
- Group projects and the promise of collaboration
- Electronic aids to inquiry in the age of the Internet
- Assessment of independent learning
- Inquiry and the adult learner
- New research on inquiry