Peer Feedback

I acknowledge my peers who are also undertaking their own Inquiry Learning process and documenting their journeys via blogs.  Following is feedback given to two of my post-graduate colleagues.

Nina M’s Blog:

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Feedback given on Nina’s blog post on Expert Searching ProQuest and A+ Education

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Claire A’s Blog:

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Feedback given on Claire’s blog on Curation Collection

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References:

Feature Image: DeBerardinis, R. (Photographer). (no date). Red leaves in a black and white forest landscape [photograph]. Retrieved 1 September 2016 from www.shutterstock.com

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Reflection

Are we ever really out of the woods?

When I took on this documented Inquiry Learning journey, I was keen to subtlely acknowledge Neurodiversity in the process.  Throughout this series of blog posts, I have strived to incorporate elements to help all readers, and especially those neurodiverse readers who may better absorb concepts through visual elements, for example tree diagrams, blocking out irrelevant information and other schematics. I have visually mapped the journey at every stage using Inquiry Learning milestones as described by Audet and Johnson (2008) and Kuhlthau (2004) as device for readers and myself to wayfind through the Inquiry Learning process.  Although I chose a critiquing mindset of Inquiry Learning,  through a constant iterative reflection exercise, I was quite surprised how closely my journey aligned with these two models at each stage of the process, with the only variation being some overlap of feelings and thoughts across consecutive phases. Please refer to “Mapping the Journey” sections at the bottom of each post in this blog series.

Adding all of these visual elements greatly added to the workload and is possibly outside the initial brief of my post-graduate assessment. However, you can’t stand on your soapbox preaching neurodiverse learner rights  and then not try to cater to them in your own material! The extra workload reflects how much extra effort is needed to incorporate neurodiverse learners into a mainstream pedagogy. I took on the extra work as a personal exercise.  If educators sense they have to add more work to an already overloaded schedule I can understand how incorporating elements to support neurodiversity could become a burdensome undertaking, and easily fall by the wayside.

While I did not find a substantial body of research to categorically answer my research questions, I do believe I probed enough to spark a dialogue amongst those educators who either already embrace Inquiry Learning or at least are considering it.  Thank you for coming on this journey with me.

Mapping the Journey

 

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Figure 1: Inquiry Process and Information Search Process. Image by author CC by 2.0

References:

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.

Feature Image: Sudakov, M. (Photographer). (no date). Beautiful autumn in the forest. Reflection of pines in an open bog and ripples in the water [photograph]. Retrieved 1 September 2016 from www.shutterstock.com

 

 

 

Response

Out of the woods

If Inquiry Learning is education’s current golden child, then the pedagogy must surely aim to enlighten all learners. Neurodiverse students have struggled on so many levels in mainstream education, we can no longer leave them in the woods to fend for themselves – whatever path we take, we have to take them with us in order to be truly inclusive.  And their journey to the other side must be one of personal growth to the same degree as everyone else on the journey – they can’t just come along for the ride, Neurodiverse learners must also contribute to getting through and out of the woods.

To understand the specific considerations for Neurodiverse learners in Inquiry Learning environments, I’ve taken Inquiry Learning guru Kath Murdoch’s advice (2012, Para. 6):

“in order to understand what something is, it can help us to think about what it isn’t” – Kath Murdoch.

This blog series sought to reverse engineer the Inquiry Learning process to a degree and build it back up with Neurodiverse learners in mind. Before discussing my findings, I want to declare that I bring to this process the position of the “vulnerable observer” (Behar, 1997) as I have a diagnosis that positions me as “neurodiverse”. In the search for peer-reviewed literature and scholarly articles that relate directly to Inquiry Learning and Neurodiversity, there appeared to be a paucity of research to report upon, which in itself is part of the findings. During expert searching, search strings with “inquiry learning” AND “autism”, where the two phrases were related in text, consistently produced very minimal or zero results. This is clearly an emerging area of research, the demand for which will only be necessitated by educational and social pressures.

Aspects of neurodiversity in conflict with the Inquiry Learning environment and process include: autistic or non-altruistic, illogical mindsets that permeate the entire Inquiry Learning process (Hong et al., 2014); Neurodivergent learners possession of different sets of cognitive skills and abilities which is at odds with the assumed cognitive competencies being brought to the Inquiry Learning process (Kuhn, Black, Keselman & Kaplan, 2000); the assumption that the use of assisted technologies will create a level playing field for Neurodiverse learners in the Inquiry Learning process (Whitby, Leininger & Grillo, 2012); significant weaknesses on some aspects of induction – the ability to make general rules based on a number of observations –  with a substantial proportion of Neurodiverse students never making the correct induction independently (Mastropieri, Scruggs & Butcher, 1997); and questions as to whether some Neurodiverse learners are even aware of the learning process and that Inquiry Learning requires a net learning outcome (Knutsen, Mandell & Frye, 2015).

While education research on this topic may not yet abound, parental advocacy on behalf of Neurodiverse students warrants educators’ consideration when answering questions of the suitability of Inquiry Learning. Do we really need to wait for expensive and protracted research studies to know there are limitations for Neurodiverse learners in student-centred learning approaches? This heartfelt blog by nicolekea is to 1) remind educators and policymakers that parent voice in agency for their child is very valid, and we should listen to all stakeholders concerned with successful education outcomes, and 2) affirms the validity of queries about whether Inquiry Learning can be an exclusionary pedagogical practice in a very defined real world context.

Mapping the Journey

 

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Figure 1: Inquiry Process and Information Search Process. Image by site author CC by 2.0

References:

Armstrong, T. (2012). Neurodiversity: A concept whose time has come. Retrieved 24 June 2016.

Audet, R. and L. Jordan (2008) Integrating inquiry across the curriculum. Heatherton, VIC: Hawker Brownlow. p. 14

Hong, J., Hwang, M., Liao, S., Lin, C., Pan, Y., & Chen, Y. (2014). Scientific reasoning correlated to altruistic traits in an inquiry learning platform: Autistic vs. realistic reasoning in science problem-solving practice. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 12, 26-36. doi:10.1016/j.tsc.2013.12.002

Knutsen, J., Mandell, D. S., & Frye, D. (2015). Children with autism are impaired in the understanding of teaching. Developmental Sciencedoi:10.1111/desc.12368

Kuhn, D., Black, J., Keselman, A., & Kaplan, D. (2000). The development of cognitive skills to support inquiry learning. Cognition and Instruction, 18(4), 495-523. doi:10.1207/S1532690XCI1804_3

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2004) Seeking Meaning: A Process Approach to Library and Information Services, 2nd edition, Libraries Unlimited, Westport, CT.

Markham, T. (2013). The Challenges and Realities of Inquiry based learning. MindShift. Retrieved 14 September 2016.

Mastropieri, M. A., Scruggs, T. E., & Butcher, K. (1997). How effective is inquiry learning for students with mild disabilities?. The Journal of Special Education, 31(2), 199-211.

Murdoch, K. (2012, September 24). …said no true inquiry teacher ever… [Web log post]

Nicolekea. (2015, March 5). Day 178 – Self-Reflection with Sophocles [Web log post]

Whitby, P. J. S., Leininger, M. L., & Grillo, K. (2012). Tips for using interactive whiteboards to increase participation of students with disabilities. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 44(6), 50-57.

Feature Image: Bruev, G. (Photographer). Forest Road Under Sunset Sunbeams. Lane Running Through The Autumn Deciduous Forest At Dawn Or Sunrise. Toned Instant Photo [photograph] via www.shutterstock.com 

 

Curating resources

take only what you need

Below is the curated collection of a variety of resources which add insights to the main question posed:

  1. What are the specific considerations for Neurodiverse Learners in the Inquiry Learning Process?

Please click here or on the image below to visit the collection.

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Mapping the Journey

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Figure 1: Inquiry Process and Information Search Process. Image by site author CC by 2.0

 

References:

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.

Feature Image: AVN Photo Lab (no date), Landscape With Large Woodpile In The Summer Forest From Sawn Old Big Pine And Spruce De-barked Logs For Forestry Industry [photograph]. Retrieved 1 September 2016 from www.shutterstock.com

Social Media

nothing to see here … or is there?

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.

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Figure 1: Mindshift simple search and passages from research article

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.

Search #2

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.

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Figure 2: Scoop.it entry linked to Quantitative Research study

Summary

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.

  1. What are the specific considerations for Neurodiverse Learners in the Inquiry Learning Process?
  2. 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?
  3. How do specific teacher and classroom practices enable or obstruct Inquiry Learning for Neurodiverse Learners?

Mapping the journey

overall-il-journey-milestones-6
Figure 3: Inquiry Process and Information Search Process. Image by site author CC by 2.0

References:

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.

 

ProQuest

Expert Searching

de27948logo-aExpert Searching continues for resources concerning Inquiry Learning and neurodiversity. ProQuest is an education database boasting over 1,000 full-text journals and 18,000 dissertations. US-based, I am hopeful my searches on Inquiry Learning and considerations for neurodiversity will be more  fruitful than those conducted within A+ Education, given the sheer volume of research funded in Autism in spheres of education in North America.  I am also feeling positive about research involving more strengths-based approaches to education considering neurodiverse students or neurodiversity in general.  The term “neurodiversity” was first published in an article in The Atlantic Magazine in 1998 but only got a foothold in social and education research circles in the US in very recent times, thanks in no small part to last years’ New York times best-seller “Neurotribes” by Dan Silberman (2015).  After searching A+ Education, my current search questions are:

  1. What are the advantages or disadvantages of the Inquiry Learning Process for Neurodiverse Learners.
  2. 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?
  3. How do specific teacher and classroom practices enable or obstruct Inquiry Learning for Neurodiverse Learners?

So lets see what ProQuest delivers to this search.  In terms of user-friendliest, ProQuest provides an excellent visual guide and video to advanced searching – heads and shoulders above all search engines used in previous blogs.

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Figure 1: Advanced Search hints in ProQuest screen shot

My search string terms strands have steadily increased over my Expert Search process which is really a reflection of not being able to find enough resources to answer my questions posed – I am literally grasping at more straws.  In the back of my mind I know that my questions sit in emerging research fields and I am looking for articles that point to a new research field.  My search strings resemble this heavy laden vertical tree diagram:

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Figure 2: Vertical dendrogram of all search terms employed grouped by domain. Image by site author CC by 2.0

Search #1

For this group of search strings, I am focussed on cognitive skills and abilities and social constructs of neurodiversity, and find some relevant sources although still low numbers of results.  I noticed “Theory of Mind” is continually in the background, even though I am not searching for it.

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Figure 3: Advanced search within ProQuest

Search #2

The chance discovery of an article during a structured search using my terms and strings unearthed a poignant aspect of my re-search into Inquiry Learning and Neurodiversity. The search string was simply “autism” AND “discovery learning”… and the discovery for me was the value of student agency in the Inquiry Learning Process.  Self-advocacy is a very topical subject in “autism” circles at the moment, from the rights of special needs students to direct their own learning as other students are able, all the way up to neurodivergent people being mandatory on Boards of organisations defending neurodiversity rights.  This is an interesting cultural perspective that I am afraid cannot be explored here due to time constraints, but it definitely deserves noting.

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Figure 4: Simple search within ProQuest

Summary

ProQuest is the last of the research-based education databases I will search before moving to expert searching in social media.  The distinct lack of research specific to Inquiry Learning and considerations for neurodiverse learners has reminded me that this is perhaps not an area deemed important enough to warrant academic research just yet, and educators may need still need to be incentivised to make accommodations for neurodiverse learning throughout the Inquiry Learning Process.  But what is the incentive? Rolling out an Inquiry Learning pedagogy is certainly a big undertaking, but tailoring it to individual students would be a daunting prospect for many educators.

As I head into Social Media expert searching, my research questions remain:

  1. What are the advantages amd/or disadvantages of the Inquiry Learning Process for Neurodiverse Learners?
  2. 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?
  3. How do specific teacher and classroom practices enable or obstruct Inquiry Learning for Neurodiverse Learners?

Mapping the Journey

overall-il-journey-milestones-5
Figure 5: Inquiry Process and Information Search Process. Image by site author CC by 2.0

References:

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.

 

A+ Education

from too many trees to barren wasteland…

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In this post I am reaching beyond Google and Google Scholar in my expert search for “Inquiry Learning and Neurodiversity” resources.  Our post-graduate student body has been directed to A+ Education: an Australian database of research published in Australian journals which looks favourably upon Australian spelling.  At this early stage, I’m not sure how this will bode for my search given the bulk of my educational research results from Google and Google Scholar originate in the United States.  But I will save my cynicism until the searches are done.  Google and Google Scholar searches have helped me hone my search terms and now I am looking to drill down in more detail. Again, here are my questions posed and current search term dendrogram. I’m preserving the grouping of my search terms and now define them for searching specifically within the sphere of education.

Research Questions

  1. What are the advantages or disadvantages for Neurodiverse Learners and Inquiry Learning?
  2. How is Inquiry Learning intertwined with Executive Function, Theory of Mind, and Central Coherence and other cognitive skills and abilities, such as self-awareness?
  3. How do specific teacher and classroom practices enable Inquiry Learning for Neurodiverse Learners.
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Figure 1: Vertical Tree Dendogram of Search Terms. Image by site author CC by 2.0

Throughout the Expert Search process I’ve gathered  many synonyms as I can imagine for the various search terms I feel are relevant.  A+ Education provides a Thesaurus as part of its search offering, but I stumble as I find the A+ Education graphic user interface (GUI) non-intutitive and hard to navigate towards the Thesaurus aid. If it is difficult for me then it may be difficult for another one of my readers, so here is a visual guide on how to get there:

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Figure 2: A+ Education wayfinding guide to using Thesaurus function. Image created by site author CC by 2.0.
  1. Go to the Login section and either login as a guest via your tertiary education institution, or open an account.
  2. Choose Advanced Search
  3. Select Thesaurus
  4. Choose Select Thesauri
  5. Chose relevant Thesaurus – in my case Australian Thesaurus of Education Descriptors.

I spent some time browsing terms in the Thesaurus and consolidating my search terms along my four main synonym groups.

Thesaurus Search Results

A Thesaurus search for synonyms for all of my current search terms has given some new angles, far more than realised via Google and Google Scholar. This aspect of A+ Education is greatly adding to terms within my domain of Classroom and Academic Learning Environment. The A+ Education Thesaurus searching ability has a questionably far greater role than just finding synonyms. By searching a dbase that is aligned to education, I’m stretching the parameters of my re-search into the education arena.  I had hoped this to be the case and now it is true. Specifically I am able to focus on Inquiry Learning and Cognitive Abilities & Skills.  From the outset I was always trying to understand Inquiry Learning and the process from a neurodiverse learner’s perspective.  In a way, I was reverse engineering Inquiry Learning down to its distinct parts so that I could assess its potency as a whole for this group of learners (an example of combining parts to make a whole, or big picture thinking). A+ Education has added this angle to my re-search:

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Figure 3: Dendrogram and A+Education terms for Cognitive Ability and Cognitive Skills. Image by site author CC by 2.0

If I was going to parlay this re-search into a more extensive form, like for example a literature review,  I would spend time investigating all research and implications for neurodiverse learners for each of these terms.  But for the purposes of getting to the end of this initial re-search, I’ve selected the poignant terms that continually effect education outcomes for neurodivergent learners.

 

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Figure 4: Cognitive Skills and Abilities added to dendrogram of search terms. Image by site author CC by 2.0

Probing the cognitive skills needed to participate in an Inquiry Learning process is therefore important to my search and again my initial lines of questioning have shifted. I am looking for resources that show both barriers to entry and opportunities for neurodiverse students within Inquiry Learning processes. What skills do students needs to bring to the Inquiry Learning table?  What skills can be developed?  And can they be developed without scaffolding?

So on to searches.  A+ Education uses similar search mechanisms to Google and Google Scholar – basic Boolean terms, with the addition of symbols to replicate words, for example: + for AND or new symbols such as ? for truncations.

Search #1

I find no resources after my first “cover-all” advanced search to “Inquiry Learning” AND “autism” and have similar disappointing results searching all terms in my current search term tiers one and two, I am disheartened to find no more, but I am not surprised.

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Figure 5: A+ Education Advanced Search Results screen shot

Just when I think its time to let this portion of my research go, focus on Neuropsychological and Cognition skills and get rid of any social construct of neurodiversity, I remember my own diagnosis … Aspergers!

This is very short-sighted of me to omit this term, but as Asperger’s Syndrome

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Figure 6: A+ Education thesaurus synonyms for “autism” screen shot

is it is no longer a diagnosis via the current DSM-V, I try not to use it anymore, opting for High Functioning Autism instead. I did use A+ Education’s Thesaurus for “autism” synonyms but out-of-handedly rejected the list when it included psychiatric terms and negative descriptions.  So personal bias and mindset interjected here and that has affected my Inquiry Learning process.  (So it would stand to reason that others with single-mindedness and lack of Theory of Mind would also struggle through the Inquiry Learning process if it wasn’t monitored!). Eureka! Or as Oprah would say “this was a lightbulb moment”.

And just to prove what a mistake it would have been to ignore “Aspergers”, the search provided a relevant resource.

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Figure 7: Search results “inquiry learning” and “autism” A+ Education shot

Search #2

I’m forming a new interim question: What cognitive skills and abilities are employed through Inquiry Learning?  This is pivotal to my re-search.  A+ Education’s thesaurus function has honed the portion of my search strings Cognitive Considerations and Barriers: these search terms may allow me to posture some sort of score card for the Inquiry Learning as a tool either for or against (or both) neurodiverse learners, given the cognitive abilities and skills they must bring to the table.

Where A+ Education’s Thesaurus promised so much in increasing searchable terms, existing and newly formed search strings offered little results given the amount of search strings I applied. However, I managed to uncover a number of relevant resources and feel confident I can move to my next search engine ProQuest without fear I’ve missed something.

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Figure 8: Relevant resources from Australian Education Journals

Summary

While I have gathered some good resources, A+ Education has left me a little disappointed at the low level of research published in Australian Journals for Australian educators on aspects of Inquiry Learning as they relate to neurodiverse learners. I also found the A+ Education search environment a little clumsy and not always intuitive.  Plus active searches time-out very quickly leaving the user to log in, via their institution many times during an intense episode of Expert Searching and note-taking.

I go into my next search of US-based ProQuest with a little more hope knowing how much of the world’s research on autism and education originates in North America. Actually ProQuest is my great white hope for scholarly articles as the following search is across social media, and I generally have no idea what that will bring. Following Expert Searching in A+ Education, my posed questions have been tweaked for ProQuest:

  1. What are the advantages or disadvantages of the Inquiry Learning Process for Neurodiverse Learners.
  2. 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?
  3. How do specific teacher and classroom practices enable or obstruct Inquiry Learning for Neurodiverse Learners?

Mapping the Journey

overall-il-journey-milestones-4
Figure 9: Inquiry Process and Information Search Process. Image by site author CC by 2.0

References:

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.