Making connections with practice-based inquiry

Year: 2018

Author: McFaul, Martha, Stringer, Patricia, Jhagroo, Jyoti

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The ‘Teaching as Inquiry’ model was introduced in the New Zealand Curriculum document in 2007 as an effective pedagogical approach focused on improving outcomes for students’ through individualised teaching inquiry. As an organisational framework for inquiry, ‘Teaching as Inquiry’ (TAI) is said to help teachers improve their practice through processes of identifying outcomes that need addressing, planning and implementing strategies for improvement, monitoring progress in relation to outcomes, and asking the important question: What do students need to learn next in order to achieve? The normative view positions students at the centre of the model with teachers examining achievement to identify gaps in learning, asking questions related to improvement, searching for approaches that raise achievement, constructing and implementing intervening strategies and ascertaining their effectiveness by gathering and reflecting on evidence from practice. Undertaken individually or collectively, the emphasis is on teachers questioning assumptions underpinning teaching with a view to improvement. The three presenters in this symposium agree that TAI can significantly improve teacher practice and enhance teaching and learning. They also suggest there is a case to look deeper into aspects of the model that are challenging subsequently making it difficult to apply in practice. Application of TAI in practice suggests the need to go beyond acceptance of the theoretical conceptualisation of the model itself and consider practical implications this has on teachers’ abilities to engage with the model. As the TAI model is enacted in practice then aspects of specific school settings that enhance or detract from engagement in inquiry need to be critiqued. The TAI model and its application to enhance improvement requires research methodologies that examine the nature of authentic participation and what this means for improvement. This brings into question a case for going beyond the more traditional approaches of research to one cognisant of individual growth. A generative phenomenological approach creates a platform for teachers to work alongside researchers in shaping and reshaping the complex discourse required to engage with the TAI model.