The primary goal for this course is to provide an introduction to a way of thinking about learning as it occurs in libraries, museums, homes, and workplaces, as well as in formal educational settings. In order to explore that, we will read about, observe, and engage in inquiry-based learning. We will examine the creation of environments in which learners are actively engaged in making meaning through personal and collaborative inquiry. The course will also examine challenges to inquiry-based instruction, including those related to management, assessment, basic skills, cultural differences, and pedagogical goals.

Issues include integrating across traditional curricular areas, the use of themes and projects, student-centered learning, and connections among formal and informal learning settings, and the larger society. One major issue is the role for teachers–whether classroom instructors, water quality engineers interacting with a citizen environmental action group, librarians assisting their patrons, museum staff developing “living history” activities, urban youth teaching others the art of hip hop poetry and music, or grandmothers sharing home remedies with their granddaughters–as inquirers about their own and others’ learning. The course provides an opportunity for dialogue about these issues.

There are no required texts to purchase initially. In the beginning, we will draw liberally from articles available online or in the University e-reserves. We will also draw from a selection of books on specific topics, especially in connection with the class inquiry.