STUDENT INQUIRY AND DOCUMENT-BASED QUESTIONS

Nov 13, 2008
Location: Districts


INQUIRY BASED LEARNING

"Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand."
“Inquiry is any process that has the aim of augmenting knowledge, resolving doubt, or solving a problem.” ---Wikipedia

In inquiry-based learning teachers emphasize the development of inquiry skills and habits of mind that promote lifetime learning and creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Students make observations, collect, analyze, and synthesize information, and draw conclusions about a question or problem. Inquiry often does not seek a “right answer” because often there is not one. Teachers focus more on "how we come to know" by presenting evidence and information and encouraging student questioning which leads them to construct their understanding of the stated problem.
Questions are at the heart of inquiry learning. While questions are also a part of the traditional classroom, the sources, purposes, and the questioning itself are quite different. The traditional classroom is focused on mastery of content; the inquiry approach is more focused on using and learning content as a means to develop information-processing and problem-solving skills. This inquiry approach is more student-centered, with the teacher acting as a facilitator. Students are more involved in the construction of knowledge through active involvement. They make observations, collect, analyze, and synthesize information, and draw conclusions about a question or problem. Inquiry often does not seek a “right answer” because often there is not one. Teachers focus more on "how we come to know" by presenting evidence and information and encouraging student questioning which leads them to construct their understanding of the stated problem.
Dennie Palmer Wolf ("The Art of Questioning," Academic Connections" (Winter 1987): 1-7.) suggests that there are four major types of questions: inference questions, interpretation questions, transfer questions, and questions about hypotheses. Click on the link to learn more.

Resources
This site features useful information on inquiry-based education.

Activity (Inquiry)
Now examine the "Introduction" to a VR lesson. Using your knowledge about inquiry based learning and document-based questions, discuss with your colleagues how and why would you change it?


Next examine the revised version. How does it compare to your changed version? Discuss the differences in the original version and the revised version.


DOCUMENT-BASED QUESTIONS

Document-based questions, or DBQs, are open-response essay questions based on primary source documents that assess the ability of each student to work with historical sources in multiple forms.They focus on critical thinking skills and ask students to make comparisons, draw analogies, apply knowledge to the given data, and require students to apply historic analysis.
Document-based questions are not only for advanced upper-level students but for all students, from elementary school through high school. To be answered correctly, students must be adept at analyzing and synthesizing the information provided. DBQs ask students to take positions on issues or problems and support their conclusions. They require students to look at issues from multiple perspectives, reconciling differing positions, evaluating the strength of particular arguments, providing authentic opportunities at a high level of thinking, and applying skills they will use as adults.
First grade teachers can assess their pupil's abilities to draw information from a photograph or a video clip. Using the concepts of the time capsule or hidden chest, a fifth or seventh grade teacher could present a "newly discovered" historical record to a class with questions designed to introduce a unit of study. Document-based questions can also be a part of a more involved performance task, which may also include the production of work other than essays and may include display of student work and discussion of student analysis and evaluation of the document.
[Consider the Source: Historical Records in the Classroom. 1996 The University of the State of New York; The State Education Department; State Archives and Records Administration, Albany NY; pp. 25-26.]

Resources

Activity (DBQ)
external image 1770_boston_massacre_engraving_1-revere.jpg
If you were living in Boston at the time, this is what you would have read in the Boston Gazette and Country Journal in its edition of Monday, March 12, 1770. The actual account as reported and published in the pages of that newspaper follows:

The Boston Gazette and Country Journal
Click here to see the TEXT version of the article.