Evaluating and Improving Guided Inquiry Outcomes

Happy Friday! Here in Oklahoma it is freezing and windy outside so I am spending my last Friday of 2017 curled up with a cup of tea and a good book. Quick recap of my last blog post: I wrote about a GID unit implemented by myself (Teacher Librarian) and Elyse Hall (Psychology teacher). The unit was the first of two planned for the Psychology II (Abnormal Psych) class where we explored all types of brain disorders. Inquiry questions covered a wide range of issues including eating disorders, disorders that stem from trauma, social anxiety and schizophrenia. At the end of the unit we surveyed the students over the process and the product. Overall, students wished they had:

  • Taken better notes in the inquiry journal
  • Written down more questions at the beginning
  • Practiced their presentation

Elyse and I took the feedback students gave us, added in a few of our own observations and tweaked our second planned unit. We set up an Inquiry Journal assignment in Google Classroom where students took notes every day and kept track of their questions and observations all in one document. This worked well for us because it streamlined the journal process by only having one document per student and because it was an assignment in Classroom and I was listed as a co-teacher, we could both see all their questions without students having to take the extra step to share their document with me. Elyse also created “check-in” assignments where students turned in (via Classroom) their top questions of the day/week and occasionally turned in their current favorite resource. In our first unit we spent some time doing mini-lessons on how to find articles in databases and reliable websites. This go-round we focused on how to read beyond the abstract with journal articles and scientific studies. A few days before the final presentations we divided our students into small groups and had them do a practice run and receive feedback from their group. Our final product also changed slightly. Students still turned in an annotated bibliography and did a presentation, and they created educational materials that presented their research to a ‘real-world’ audience (patients, teachers, parents, coaches, etc) Instead of limiting students to an infographic this time, they were given a choice board of ways to convey their education materials that included creating a blog, video, podcast, newsletter or an editorial/letter to elected official.

Having the freedom to design back to back units with the same students was very helpful for me as a teacher to see how different techniques and tools improved the research process for my students. While we had the benefit of a very small class (only 12) we were able to brainstorm how to create the same experience and discussion for a much larger class (next semester the class has 35).

Student evaluations were positive and had a very favorable view of Guided Inquiry.

A quick snapshot of some of our evaluation results:

When asked to compare the amount of CONTENT (facts and information about psychology) learned in this class using GID instead of traditional lecture and assignments:

42.6% reported learning more content with GID

42.6% reported learning the same amount of content

14.3% reported learning less than with traditional methods

When asked to compare the SKILLS learned in this class (how to research, write, cite, present)

85.7% of students reported learning more skills than in a traditional class

14.3% of students reported learning about the same

0% reported learning less.

Taking into consideration the fact that class size can skew percentages to look either really good or really bad (in this case, for the better), I found it affirming that when students connect to the content the research skills they master increases drastically. Really reaching to provide the opportunity to connect students to third space increases the overall outcome of success.

A big thank you to Leslie for allowing me to share my GID journey with all of you!

Amanda Kordeliski

Teacher Librarian, Norman North High School