Exploring, Investigating and Discovering in Mathematics

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In contrast to what the critics of inquiry claim, these investigations all required direct instruction and the need to recall basic facts. To promote deeper learning, teachers introduced ongoing feedback loops and had students explain and justify their reasoning. Multiple large scale studies in the United States and in Canada have demonstrated that students who engage in this kind of inquiry perform better on standardised tests than students in more traditional learning environments.

So why have a number of studies found inquiry-based approaches to possess limited educational value?

Resources: Discovery Approach

Education researcher John Hattie, for example, reviewed more than research studies and found that inquiry-based teaching had a very small effect on student learning. But these approaches were presented as distinct from inquiry, despite shared affinities with both guided and authentic approaches.

In contrast, a recent synthesis of contemporary research in The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences found that both guided approaches to inquiry and approaches growing out of the authentic education movement promote deeper understanding and more intellectually engaging learning experiences for students. The research clearly shows that ministries of education — in Canada and globally — should maintain their commitment to curricular shifts towards inquiry.

However, there is a need to help the public better understand the research basis that has informed this change in direction. As part of this work, we must engage more vigorously with politicians and popular commentators who have misrepresented inquiry as a process of unguided discovery devoid of instructional supports.

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Research shows that students who engage in inquiry-based learning perform better on standardised tests than students in more traditional learning environments. David Scott , University of Calgary. Teacher and students work on a programmable robot with LED illumination for a science project.

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Shutterstock The problem with using this research to dismiss inquiry altogether, however, is that it does not distinguish discovery learning from other approaches to inquiry that have been shown to possess significant educational value. Success on standardised tests Examples of this kind of inquiry include a Grade 5 investigation into how water could be desalinated and purified after contamination by a tsunami.

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Inquiry is not unguided discovery The research clearly shows that ministries of education — in Canada and globally — should maintain their commitment to curricular shifts towards inquiry. Science, mathematics and technology provide tools and contexts for processing concrete, perceptual and linguistically available information to form concepts and solve problems.

Students will participate in a number of practical but theoretically based experiences in order to understand the kinds of social, linguistic and imaginative contexts which facilitate young children's mathematical, scientific and technological understanding. Please note that Subject Outlines and assessment tasks are updated each session. This subject is restricted to students enrolled in the Bachelor of Education Birth to Five Years or as approved by the respective Course Coordinator or Course Director.

The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice. Toggle navigation. Availability Session 1 Duration One session.

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