We are establishing a faculty learning community (FLC) at the University of Illinois that is examining the topic “Undergraduates Engaging in Inquiry.” We have specifically chosen this title because it emphasizes the role of the student in inquiry, a learner-center focus, rather than the primary focus on how we as teachers should engage students through inquiry. Certainly along the way we will share ideas and models for how we can teach inquiry to students. However, our goal is to better understand the impact that engaging in inquiry has on student learning and how we can facilitate that learning.
We have identified four questions that will be the focus of discussions for this semester. These include a) what value does the undergraduate student gain by engaging in inquiry, b) what value does the instructor gain from their students engaging in inquiry, c) how can we apply what we have learned about inquiry to our classroom learning environments, and d) how can we implement, document, support, sustain, and assess the impact of students learning through inquiry?
In addition, I want to better understand how others think about undergraduates engaging in inquiry. I suspect that there will be a range of viewpoints among the FLC members. I anticipate that my own views and understanding will evolve through the semester in response to these discussions.
Other questions will arise as the semester progresses. The purpose of this blog is to provide a forum for the members of the FLC to express their thoughts on those other questions. We will try to post a different question or thought each week and encourage the FLC to respond to that.