Inquiry

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Introduction

 The process of investigating in order to gain knowledge and insight of the natural world is referred to as inquiry. Research studies have shown that learners can effectively accommodate novel knowledge and information through the inquiry process. According to Blooms taxonomy of educational objectives, a learner is able to operate at higher levels by making use of inquiry skills. An examination of some inquiry skills and teaching strategies that facilitate learners understanding of the skills will be presented in this assignment.

Discussion

 One of the key inquiry skills is observation, through which learners can gather qualitative information of various aspects of the natural world. Individuals get exposed to new aspects through observation. An example of activity that makes use of observation skill is a teacher asking students to give a description of a tree. When assigned such a task, students are expected to describe the features observed in a tree and these may include its height, the number of branches present and the pattern of leaf arrangement. Virtually all information perceived through one or more of the sense organs can be used to generate conclusions and formulate hypotheses (Sunal and Haas, 2008).

The second inquiry skill is that of measurement, which enables learners to standardize information obtained. Instruments of measurements such as rulers are used to obtain measurement units. The units utilized when measuring physical quantities may either be derived or fundamental units of measurements, which include mass, length, time, temperature, amount of substance and many other units. An example of activity that incorporates the skill of measurement is a teacher asking students to measure the temperature of water contained in a container. This would involve the use of thermometers to measure the temperature of a given liquid (Sunal, 2008).


Communication is the third type of inquiry skill, which refers to the process of conveying information from one person to another. Students with exceptional communication skills can express themselves effectively and give perfect explanations to specific phenomena. There is a possibility of corrupting ideas and information in the course of communication process. An activity that makes use of communication skill is a situation where a teacher asks students to conduct a field study, make observations and then report or present the observations made. Through this activity, students can make use of communication skills to report knowledge and insight obtained after the field study.


The fourth type of inquiry skill is classification, that enables students to group objects on the basis of a given criteria. During classification, students are able to gain knowledge on the different patterns of nature and hence organize their thoughts and responses according to different situations at hand. Wrong classification subsequently leads to wrong judgments and assessment. An example of activity that involves classification is asking students to classify a group of substances by determining whether they are living or non-living. Through this activity, learners are able to incorporate the skill of classification as a form of inquiry learning (Sunal, 2008).


The final skill of inquiry is that of making inferences. This refers to drawing conclusions and explanation for occurrence of certain phenomena. This skill requires the use of critical and creative thinking. Learners attempt to explain the world through the use of inferences to account for certain events. An activity that incorporates the skill of making inferences is performing experiment involving growing plants in dry conditions and then in wet conditions. Students should then be asked to make conclusions or inferences for the observed pattern of growth (Sunal, 2008).


There are several teaching strategies that help to construct an understanding of the various inquiry skills for students. The first strategy is by teaching students about the information, rules and procedures associated with thinking skills. There are several procedures that can be used in the application of thinking skills, and learners need to be taught about them. An important knowledge related to skill that students need to know is known as conditional knowledge, which refers to having insight of when and where a specific inquiry skill is applicable. The other type of skill-related knowledge is the know-how of the type of criteria used when making critical thinking decisions (Beyer, 2008).


The other strategy that instructors should apply is that of making the thinking-skill procedures, information and rules explicit. There are several components that make up thinking skills. Teachers need to try as much as they can to clarify the various components to students in an obvious and precise manner. Students who witness the application of specific thinking skills during instruction are able to effectively apply the skill in different situations. It is also advisable for teachers to listen to students explanation regarding various skills so that they can correct mistakes and suggest ways through which the students can apply the skills better. This strategy also enables students to identify fallacies and flaws in their own thinking (Beyer, 2008).


The other strategy is the introduction of each thinking skill in a study lesson that focuses on that skill. The first step is for a teacher to introduce a new skill by giving its definition and the application of the skill. This should be followed by an illustration or model that briefly reviews how the skill is applied. Finally, students are asked to apply the skill following a manner described by the instructor. Focusing on the main subject content or matter should go hand in hand with mastering the thinking or inquiry-related skill during instruction (Beyer, 2008).


The final strategy is that of giving guidance and support to a continuing skill practice. Under this strategy, teachers are advised to support and guide students in mastering the thinking skills acquired. For students to gain proficiency in a given thinking and inquiry skill, it has to take more than a single introductory lesson in the thinking skill in question. Hence, continual instructor support helps in internalization and mastering of the various thinking and inquiry skills. Direct teaching of thinking skills has proved to be worthwhile especially in history and social studies lessons. Research studies indicate that students taught thinking skills are able to improve the quality of their thinking in addition to obtaining high grades in coursework assessments (Beyer, 2008).


Social Study Unit

 A social study unit of study for using the inquiry skills discussed and supporting strategies will be presented. The title of the social studies unit is interviewing historical figures and the unit is most appropriate for fifth to eighth grade levels of study. At the end of this unit, students are supposed to gain insight about various historical figures through the use of interview technique. The purpose of the unit is for students to develop inquiry techniques, communication skills and writing skills.

In teaching the activity, I will ask students to research on a given historical figure, followed by taking relevant notes and formulating relevant questions aimed at gaining knowledge about the historical figure. The next step is for students to divide themselves into small groups and work together as a team. Students should then perform interviews with partners and then with the entire class. This should be followed by self evaluation and peer evaluation. Through this activity, students should be able to demonstrate good communication and listening skills.


Some of the resources to use in the unit include pictures of characters, resource books, costumes, student-created microphones and time liner computer program. The assessment technique that will be used is asking students to present their interviews at a patriotic assembly. The students will be graded based on their presentations. Moreover, students will be asked to print and display various time lines developed using a computer.


Conclusion

 The ability to speculate about, ask and solve questions surrounding the occurrence of a given phenomenon is what defines a successful inquiry. Examples of inquiry skills include communication, making inferences, measurement, classification and observation skills. Teachers need to employ the recommended teaching strategies so as to promote critical thinking, inquiry and analytical skills in their students. This is through teaching the various skills in a systematic, direct and explicit manner

References

Beyer, B. K. (2008) How to teach thinking skills in social studies and history. Social studies Issue

Sunal, C. S., & Haas, M. E. (2008). Social studies for the elementary and middle grades. A constructive approach (3rd Ed). Boston: Pearson Education

James Peter is the author and is associated with meldaresearch.com which is a global custom thesis writing  provider. If you would like help in essays, research papers, term papers and dissertations, you can visit BestEssaySite.Com


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