Heading photo credit: #PhillipeCPhoto, Mirrors Bunker, available under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license
It is with a sense of sheer exhaustion, but satisfaction, I come to the reflection stage of my inquiry learning into inquiry learning.
Over the course of this semester, I can confidently say I have enjoyed my learning process. I can see that the understanding and tools I have acquired through this unit of study will prove invaluable to me in my future as a teacher librarian, an educator in general, and an eternal student.
I already regularly use the expert search strategies acquired through the first half of the semester in both my work and personal life. Thinking back on my search strategies prior to working through this first assignment, I am surprised that I had not realised then how much room for improvement there was. I feel that in a teaching context, a similar exercise to assignment 1 (perhaps in a mini-version?) could be used to teach students the same skills I have acquired and now find so invaluable. Furthermore, having felt first hand the difference these skills make to my effectiveness and efficiency in research, I am now acutely aware of the importance of teaching students these sorts of skills.
My thoughts and feelings about what I have achieved through the second assignment run along similar lines that of assignment 1. Through the process of reading and understanding the wide range of theories and concepts related to the inquiry process, applying these to an existing unit of work within History in order to deconstruct and analysing that unit of work, integrating this analysis into “areas of study”, making recommendations for the improvement of the program based on this theoretical web, and then concluding this study through the re-writing of the unit of work…. It was an epic journey. This process expanded my understanding of inquiry learning a hundred fold. However, I felt throughout the process that the time required to do justice to the theories, to understand them deeply enough so that I can confidently carry them with me into my teaching profession, to understand them well enough to present a strong, integrated analysis, to use the tools they presented with the dexterity required to make recommendations and translate these into real-world applications, was too great. I felt that to do the assignment justice, to take the analysis, recommendations and re-write to an aspirational level required significantly greater input of time than is fair for an assignment that attracts 50% of the mark for one unit of study in a master’s degree.
In saying that, however, I recognise that the work I have done in this unit has given me a significantly deeper, nuanced understanding of inquiry and information literacy, and I leave armed with tools, skills and knowledge that will serve me for a long time to come. So whilst I felt that my learning would have been better served through deeper study of half the content, I could never choose which half of the content covered should be given up.
As I leave this unit of study I would like to spend more time investigating the theories or models that slipped through my fingers in the rush to finish the assignment; I would like to understand more about integrated approaches to inquiry and I would like to spend time reading the work of my peers through their blogs. I leave this course with a newfound awareness of the sheer volume of information “out there” about inquiry learning, and the pace at which this information moves, grows and morphs. This awareness holds a tinge of discomfort, as the task of staying “on top” of this content poses the risk of more “sheer exhaustion”. I suppose then, that what I have learnt from this course could be drawn down to the idea that a feeling of sheer exhaustion occupies the same space as a multitude of rewards.