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Technological mediation of personal inquiry in UK GCSE geography: opportunities and challenges

Kerawalla, Lucinda; Scanlon, Eileen; Twiner, Alison; Jones, Ann; Littleton, Karen; Conole, Grainne; Mulholland, Paul; Collins, Trevor; Blake, Canan; Clough, Gill and Gaved, Mark (2009). Technological mediation of personal inquiry in UK GCSE geography: opportunities and challenges. In: CAL09 - Learning in Digital Worlds, 23-25 March 2009, Brighton, UK.

URL: http://www.cal-conference.elsevier.com/
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Abstract

An aim of the Personal Inquiry (PI) project, underway at the Open University and University of Nottingham, is to explore the challenges and opportunities for technologically-supported personal inquiry within the institutional setting of the UK secondary school. Our developing view of personal inquiry learning coheres around three key themes:

1. choice (e.g. choosing a hypothesis)
2. relevance (to myself/my community/my world)
3. individualisation (e.g. my learning trajectory)

These themes are important if learners are to be motivated by, and engaged in, understanding themselves and the world in which they live.

We will report findings from a pilot study involving 76 pupils, aged 14-15 years, who undertook a location-based inquiry on urban heat islands (UHIs) for their GCSE Geography coursework. Detailed qualitative analysis of videotaped classroom observations suggests that several contextual features play a strong role in mediating opportunities for personal inquiry:

1. the institution (e.g. exam board criteria)
2. reporting conventions (e.g. presentation)
3. writing conventions (e.g. scientific terminology)
4. organisational logistics (e.g. data sharing )

However, teachers encouraged the creation of individualised pieces of coursework, and our analysis identifies 3 main ways in which this was achieved:

1. pupils writing in their own words
2. pupils making choices (e.g. ways of representing their data)
3. individual data analysis and conclusions

With regard to the relevance of the UHI topic, 88% of pupil respondents thought the fieldtrip was beneficial. However, 66% thought that UHIs were not relevant to their lives. Organisational logistics meant that it was necessary for all pupils to attend a single fieldtrip on a single topic.

These findings suggest a need for exploration of the possibility of increasing opportunities for choice, relevance and individualisation. In future work we will be addressing this through, for example, facilitating individual hypothesis creation and choice over data collection points and equipment.

Item Type: Conference Item
Copyright Holders: 2009 The Authors
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Not SetNot SetESRC
Not SetNot SetTLRP
Keywords: personal inquiry; Geography; GCSE
Academic Unit/Department: Education and Language Studies > Childhood, Development and Learning
Institute of Educational Technology
Education and Language Studies
Knowledge Media Institute
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Centre for Research in Computing (CRC)
Item ID: 25774
Depositing User: Lucinda Kerawalla
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 10:48
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2014 12:44
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/25774
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