Personal inquiry learning trajectories in geography: technological support across contexts

Kerawalla, Lucinda; Littleton, Karen; Scanlon, Eileen; Jones, Ann; Gaved, Mark; Collins, Trevor; Mulholland, Paul; Blake, Canan; Clough, Gill; Conole, Grainne and Petrou, Marilena (2011). Personal inquiry learning trajectories in geography: technological support across contexts. Interactive Learning Environments, 21(6) pp. 497–515.



Student engagement in the design and implementation of inquiries is an effective way for them to learn about the inquiry process and the domain being studied. However, inquiry learning in geography can be challenging for teachers and students due to the complexity of scientific inquiry and the diversity of pupils’ and teachers’ knowledge and abilities. To address this, the Personal Inquiry project has designed a tool kit that includes nQuire, a Web-based tool to support students through the inquiry process. Here, we identify when, across five lessons comprising an inquiry into microclimates, nQuire was used by a teacher and a case study group of her 12 to 13-year-old students, and the ways in which they adopted nQuire as a tool to facilitate the creation of a coherent and cumulative inquiry learning experience over time. We found that students’ use of nQuire supported them in capturing and representing their evolving understanding of inquiry, in defining and supporting their progression through the process of inquiry and in resourcing their cognitive engagement in data interpretation and representation. nQuire supported the students in accumulating and integrating new understandings across contexts and over time. In this way, nQuire successfully resourced and supported the students’ learning journeys or trajectories. We conclude that nQuire can be an effective tool for supporting teachers’ and students’ understanding of the nature of inquiry and how to design and implement inquiries of their own.

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