It would be an understatement to say I am not confident going onto social media platforms to find resources on Inquiry Learning and Neurodiversity as I feel the topic is both very niche and also possibly too “high-level” to be the subject of social chatter.
Search # 1
First I try Facebook, as this is the social media platform I am most familiar with. Hashtags #inquirylearning AND #autism give me no results. So I visit a number of my favourite pages to see if I can mine their posts for resources regarding my topic: so searching was limited to posts within the pages of a known Facebook page. In a way I am rerouting the search process, but I figure I have no choice. Searching Facebook is clumsy, and you feel like you are wading through a lot of content until you stumble upon something buried very deep. Searching is a very organic process – you can click everywhere and forget the path you have taken to get there. That was the case with my Facebook search. So imagine my excitement when I do find a relevant source deep-linked in an post on MindShift’s Facebook page – a post that will flip my thinking on its head regarding Inquiry Learning and Neurodiversity.
I found the original source of these quotes, and after some exploration of the text, I can see that my desire to search for resources linking cognitive skills and abilities to Inquiry Learning could be seen as a very reductive approach. However, that one line from the passage above: that inquiry “is intimately connected to character, social meaning and aspects of emotional intelligence associated with personality” has really struck me. So in theory, Inquiry Learning possibly should support the existing student without the need to “improve” aspects of their cognition, because this mindset alone will result in diverse responses to questions posed. My second research question is slowly turning in on itself, but I have just realised a profound aspect of Inquiry Learning: if conducted without the need to build or engage “typical” cognitive skills and abilities, like Central Coherence, Theory of Mind and Executive Function, then could it be the ultimate positive response to neurodiversity!?
Now this, is a lightbulb moment.
Social Media offers Inquiry Learners bleeding edge ideas because, as the world’s biggest soapbox, people’s opinions don’t have to be grounded in academic process or rigourous research methods. A lot of positing, posturing and self-prmotion takes place on social media but it is an ideas hotbed, the ultimate blue sky thinking experience. With this in mind, I seek out one more social media platform in the hope I can access scholarly literature.
I decide to search the content curation platform Scoop.it as this is my content curation tool of choice and a good opportunity to experience its functionality beyond just curation. Scoop.it has social media tools available to users, such as “like”, “share” and “comment”. Like Facebook. it is not possible to perform advanced searches, but rather simple searches of which you must them wade through a lot of content to uncover what you need. I find a quantitative research study on the level of cognitive and metacognitive presence involved in inquiry-based learning with and without a facilitator, and the degree to which cognitive and metacognitive skills are cultivated via the group dynamic. This is useful to understand whether scaffolding and support can be facilitated through the student group, or if facilitator is always required.
I was initially cynical about social media being able to add to my resource list, but with some digging on Facebook, and hardly any searching at all on Scoop.it I was able to find high-level contributions to my research questions and possibly my resource list.
With the Expert Searching portion of my inquiry learning now done, I move to the next stage of content curation and present 10 sources that combine to create responses and (possibly more questions) on top of my initial three research questions.
At the conclusion of the Expert Searching process, my first question has be reframed as no overt advantages of Inquiry Learning to neurodiverse learners has been uncovered in these searches. Notwithstanding, environment and cognitive skills and abilities will play a large part in the success or otherwise of Inquiry Learning for neurodiverse learners, so one cannot cannot comprehensively state Inquiry Learning does not suit all neurodiverse students. Essentially the question has lead to more questions.
- What are the specific considerations for Neurodiverse Learners in the Inquiry Learning Process?
- How are Executive Function, Theory of Mind, Central Coherence and other cognitive skills and abilities either 1) required for, or 2) developed by Inquiry Learning?
- How do specific teacher and classroom practices enable or obstruct Inquiry Learning for Neurodiverse Learners?
Mapping the journey
Andreiuc88 (Photographer). (n.d.). Man Walking Through a Fairytale Forest [photograph], Retrieved August 20, 2016, from http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-102692894.html?src=download_history
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.