The theoretical underpinning of Inquiry Hub consists of a conceptual framework, practical wisdom, and socio-cultural expectations. The conceptual framework includes our understanding of motivation theory (Kohn) and growth mindset (Dweck). Practical wisdom is derived from our own experience and practice; it includes blended learning environments and our belief in empowering learners (Couros). And socio-cultural expectations includes our use of the BC curriculum, Core Competencies, and community knowledge.
Any school can learn from our model and select the combination of concepts and practices that apply to their unique learning community.
As teachers, we recognize the challenges of working with students who are motivated in different ways. Some students enjoy going to school just to be with friends. Others truly value the learning experiences and opportunities offered at school. Others are very much motivated by the goal of graduating or going on to post-secondary. Others are focused on making the grade. And still, students are motivated for a variety of different reasons and then de-motivated by the same types of reasons; it can depend on the time of year, time of day, or type of course and who else is in the class.
As part of John Sarte’s graduate work at the University of British Columbia, he reviewed the literature on motivation theory (see How many marks is this worth?). There are several theoretical lenses that may be used to make sense of motivation. Typically, educators default to psychological interpretations of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. However, it may be argued that motivation can be more nuanced in its application to the classroom experience.
At Inquiry Hub, we wished to focus on cultivating the intrinsic motivation of students by encouraging each learner to study their own interests. We asked students to generate lots of questions and to consider their hobbies, strengths, and weaknesses as opportunities to inquire. Early on it seemed that students learned to dissociate exploring their interests from working at school, but gradually the majority of students trusted the community to share what they know and what they wished to know. We believed that students would demonstrate more motivation for learning when they pursued their own interests. As facilitators of learning, we would help students frame their inquiry projects so they demonstrated curricular competencies and content outcomes.
The belief that individuals are not fixed in their intelligence, dispositions, and abilities. Individuals are able to learn, improve, and grow their knowledge and skill set.
Blended Learning Environment
To increase efficiency and effectiveness of class time, we make extensive use of online resources. Many of these resources are curated on Learning Management Systems, such as Moodle, or on blogs or Microsoft Office Online. Students and teachers learn to use these digital tools to make learning accessible and extend the lessons beyond classroom time.
Inquiry Hub is a learning community. Students contribute to the development of the program by sharing their interests, starting clubs, requesting specific courses, and asking for support with their projects. For example, one group of students wanted to put on a series of talks (like TED Talks but for iHub), so the school supplied audio-video equipment while the students planned the event and arranged for speakers.
As more examples of student-led projects took shape, we saw that students were moving from engagement with learning to empowerment. In The Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros expressed this shift from engagement as teacher-dependent to empowerment where students are learning by doing the things most schools have their teachers do.
Our students sometimes share mini-lessons where they are experts in coding, for instance. A group of students leads our development of Live Action Role Play. Our Marketing and Promotion class is responsible for organizing our open house and graduation ceremony. Students maintain the community garden. In many ways, Inquiry Hub is student-powered.
Inquiry Hub began in the midst of new curriculum implementation. Consequently, we took advantage of the emphasis on inquiry learning and the shift from content-driven curriculum to competencies. We work with the students on developing a process of inquiry (Foundations of Inquiry 10 and 11). We also support Independent Directed Studies. We continually challenge ourselves to try new approaches and “best practices” to find the most effective ways to support our students.