‘Teaching as Inquiry’ – application in school specific settings

Year: 2018

Author: Stringer, Patricia

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In the New Zealand curriculum, the ‘Teaching as Inquiry’ (TAI) model is an approach taken to improve teaching and learning practice in classroom environments that are complex, diverse and often unpredictable. The significance awarded to TAI is associated with teachers critiquing their pedagogy (values, beliefs and assumptions about education) and professional practice through identifying problems in-situ, employing intervening strategies intended to ‘fix’ the problem and evaluating usefulness and success of inquiry at the end. Application of TAI necessitates that teachers are challenged to engage in reflective practice. Reflection ‘in’, ‘on’ and ‘after’ practice assumes continuous levels of proactive cognitive activity by individuals open to learning from disruption and acting with moral impetus to improve situations. For the beginning teacher, engaging in inquiry and reflection amidst competing demands of daily classroom practice in school specific settings can be unsettling to the extent that application of TAI may be viewed as problematic. Beginning teachers’ transition from university to classroom teaching signifies movement from a world of experience embedded mainly in theory and inference to application in practice. Attempting to embrace and apply the TAI model necessitates understanding the complexity of context; that is, the geographically, historically, politically and socially bounded framework for practice. Without knowledge of the situation, inclusive of individual capabilities to engage in inquiry, successful implementation of the TAI model may not be possible. Questions raised surmount to: What is the value of TAI if the situation for enactment has not been thoroughly analysed? What is it about the situation of practice that needs fixing?  What challenges does the ‘self’ face in becoming an inquiring practitioner in school specific settings? To promote a contextually embedded model of TAI requires an alternative framework where clarity of purpose, role requirements and scaffolded assistance becomes the focus to achieve and enhance teaching and learning outcomes. This paper presents the findings of a study that employed individual and focus group interviews to explore beginning teachers’ experiences of TAI in their first year of teaching. A phenomenological approach was used to ascertain experiences from the viewpoint of determinants for successful application of TAI in-situ.