Before heading into the woods in search for answers about Inquiry Learning for Neurodiverse Students, its time to start looking up. And by “looking up” I mean entering the world of Expert Searching and computational thinking.
Expert Searching is predicated on the use more advanced search techniques in order to find credible and meaningful content about a topic. This post delves into searching for more information on inquiry learning for neurodivergent students across a number of databases using a number of search strategies. Again, I am using I am using an abstract metaphor to describe my investigation into inquiry learning. However, knowing that neurodivergent learners can struggle with abstract metaphors, I am also using tree diagrams to support my inquiry search metaphor of going “into the woods” but more importantly, to show visual variation in my thought processes and results to make this blog more accessible to any neurodivergent readers who are visually oriented.
Again my initial questions, to be investigated through expert searching, are:
- What are the broad considerations for Neurodivergent Learners (in this case students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder) and Inquiry Learning?
- How is Inquiry Learning intertwined with Executive Function, Theory of Mind, and Central Coherence cognitive domains?
- What specific classroom practices are enabling Inquiry Learning for Neurodiverse Learners?
Ultimately my search seeks the nexus of a number of branches of research and knowledge: “Inquiry Learning”, “Autism” (an established search term and more widely used by researchers than the emerging “neurodiversity” term) and neuropsychological domains of Autism: “Executive Function”, “Central Coherence” and “Theory of Mind” (and perhaps their common abbreviations “EF”, “CC” and “ToM”). I am also investigating these research fields as they pertain to students in classrooms. A quick mind map of terms with which I’m already familiar is produced, and I have a guide to creating some viable search strings.
Now to focus on searchable content, or to create search string variants. I am imagining what aspects of neurodiversity may come into play in the Inquiry Learning process and Figure 3 below is a visualisation of search strings that combine searchable content pertaining to Questions 1 and 2 only at this stage. Once again, I am casting the net wide because I feel that inquiry learning through the eyes of neurodivergent students is only an emerging education research area.
Expert Searching requires computational thinking which engages Four techniques of decomposition, abstraction, pattern recognition and algorithms. Neurodiversity posits that each and every brain is different and has different abilities and capabilities. In the subset of individuals with autistic traits, abstraction is a challenge for many, but the other three techniques of computational thinking are often heightened. It follows that if expert searching is part of the inquiry learning process, then already there is an aspect which a portion of neurodivergent learners will struggle with. I could add these terms to my search string dendogram, however I am already synonym-heavy and maybe that is another search for another time.
The following posts on Expert Searching across the Google, Google Scholar, A+ Education, Proquest, Google+ and Facebook platforms harness different aspects of computational thinking.
Mapping the Journey
Audet, R. and L. Jordan (2008) Integrating inquiry across the curriculum. Heatherton, VIC: Hawker Brownlow. p. 14
Kuhlthau, C. C. (2004). Seeking Meaning: A Process Approach to Library and Information Services, 2nd edition, Libraries Unlimited, Westport, CT.
Mr_MW (Photographer), (no date). Trees [Photograph], Retrieved August 22, 2016, from