Eliciting Thinking Skills with Inquiry Maps in CLE

Eliciting Thinking Skills with Inquiry Maps in CLE

Alexandra Okada (The Open University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-992-2.ch004
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Abstract

The first aim of this chapter is to present the contributions drawn from the study exploring the use of inquiry maps in academic research for eliciting thinking skills. The second objective of this work is to highlight the potential collaborative learning environments (CLEs) have to enable students to learn different mapping techniques and to help them share ways in which they can apply inquiry maps to elaborate their scientific projects. While the study is informed by qualitative research methodology, it employs quantitative data to describe the fieldwork: an online course, which was organized by the author. The participants were lecturers and research students from different countries: Brazil, United Kingdom and Portugal. Findings indicate six kinds of inquiry maps that can be applied in academic research and may contribute to developing thinking skills such as, critical thinking, content thinking and creative thinking.
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Introduction: Inquiry Maps For Academic Research In Cle

Information literacy is a vital skill for research students in the digital age. Students need to know how to locate, evaluate and use information effectively in their academic courses and in their workplace. They also have to be able to structure the stages of their investigation, and integrate theory and data. Mapping software tools can help them construct meaning from the information selected through search engines, news feeds, course content and research literature.

Knowledge Cartography (Okada, Buckingham Shum & Sherborne, 2008) is one of the most promising resources for these challenges. Through knowledge maps, learners can integrate information with graphical representations of key components and connections. Concept mapping helps students represent and visualize concepts that they know and do not know (Cañas & Novak, 2008). Mapmaking scaffolds different forms of reasoning about arguments (Van Gelder, 2002), engaging students in meaningful learning (Novak, 1998) and critical thinking (Jonassen, 2000; Jonassen, Beissner, & Yacci, 1993).

This chapter presents how mapping techniques and software tools (e.g. Cmap Tools, Nestor Web Cartographer, Compendium and Freemind) can be used by PhD students to connect knowledge during their research projects. In this study, we denominate “inquiry maps” as a range of six kinds of knowledge maps for developing academic research:

  • 1.

    Research map for designing a research project.

  • 2.

    Reference map for collecting references in the literature.

  • 3.

    Reading map for selecting key ideas of papers´ content.

  • 4.

    Theory map for organising key concepts and definitions from the literature.

  • 5.

    Fieldwork map for structuring key data from a corpus of documents.

  • 6.

    Writing map for integrating key arguments for an essay.

The term “inquiry maps” is used in this work to denote graphical representations of knowledge during a research process. The thesis of this study is that these inquiry maps play an important role for eliciting thinking skills by helping researchers identify, connect and interpret key issues, ideas, concepts, data and arguments. Knowledge mapping software, in which learners can construct, examine and transform their thinking, acts as mediating inquiry tools. These tools for representational guidance mediate learning interactions and thinking by providing learners with means to represent emerging knowledge graphically (Suthers, 2003; Roschelle, 1994).

This work also describes a collaborative learning environment (CLE) that employed inquiry maps for research students and educators to learn software tools and apply mapping techniques to develop their research projects. Another purpose for this CLE was engaging participants in sharing their inquiry maps and improving their ways of mapping with peers. These collaborative interactions and feedback about the process of inquiry mapping might lead them to develop thinking skills and improve their inquiry projects. In the CLE analysed in this study, we used three kinds of maps application:

  • 1.

    Personal map for participants introducing themselves in the CLE

  • 2.

    Learning path map for participants accessing and visualising activities and content.

  • 3.

    Portfolio map for participants accessing and visualising their individual and collective productions.

In order to explain each of the above map models, examples were selected and analysed from a CLE created during an online course – Using Software for Qualitative Research. This course was offered at the University of PUC-SP in Brazil from 2004 to 2005. The number of participants was 35 research students and 20 lecturers from Brazil, Portugal and The United Kingdom.

This study, thus, aims to address the following research questions:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Issue Map or Dialogue Map: derives from the “Issue-Based Information System” (IBIS) developed by Horst Rittel in the 1970s to scaffold groups tackling “wicked” socio-technical problems. IBIS structures deliberation by connecting Issues, Positions and Arguments in consistent ways, which can be rendered as textual outlines and graphical maps. “Dialogue Mapping” was developed by Conklin (2006) for using IBIS in meetings, extended as “Conversational Modelling” by Sierhuis and Selvin (1999) to integrate formal modelling and interoperability with other tools.

Inquiry Map: is a technique for knowledge visualization in academic research, which aims to facilitate the creation and communication of knowledge in inquiry projects through graphic representation. Beyond the mere transfer of facts, inquiry maps aim to further create or transfer insights, experiences, attitudes, values, interpretations, perspectives, understanding, and predictions by using various mapping techniques.

Open Learning: is a learning method for the knowledge acquisition based on open educational resources, open source technologies and online communities. Open learning aims to allow pupils self-determined, independent and interest-guided learning. It has been also focussed on collaborative study and social learning.

Concept Map: was developed by Joseph Novak around 1972, based on Ausubel’s theory that meaningful learning only takes place when new concepts are connected to what is already known. Concept maps are hierarchical trees, in which concepts are connected with labelled, graphical links, most general at the top. Novak and many others have reported empirical evidence of the effectiveness of this technique, with an international conference dedicated to the approach.

Mind Map: was developed by Tony Buzan in the early 1970s when he published his popular book “Use Your Head.” Mind Mapping requires the user to map keywords, sentences and pictures radiating from a central idea. The relatively low constraints on how elements can be labelled or linked makes it well suited for visual notetaking and brainstorming.

Social Network: refers to the acquisition of social competence that happens primarily in a social group, virtual learning environments or online communities. Social network depends on group dynamics, people with similar interests and disposition for interacting together.

Web Map: appeared relatively recently as a result of the rapid growth of the internet. Software tools provide a way for users to capture, position, iconify, link and annotate hyperlinks in a visual space as they navigate, creating a richer trail which comes to have more personal meaning than a simple bookmark list.

Argument and Evidence Map: was first proposed by J.H. Wigmore in the early 1900s to help in the teaching and analysis of court cases. The objective is to expose the structure of an argument, in particular how evidence is being used, in order to clarify the status of the debate. Still used in legal education today, the idea has been extended, formalised (and reinvented) in many ways (Buckingham Shum, 2003; Reed et al., 2007), but all focused on elements such as Claims, Evidence, Premises and supporting/challenging relations.

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