Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Inquiry research

I am wrestling with how to form a really good question for a literature review (part of my Mindlab study this year)

I am planning to focus on my online art history class. We collaborate using Knowledge Forum a lot (Kwok-Wing Lai, 2014), to explore big questions and construct an understanding of art history concepts as a class. 

I am a bit hesitant to box myself in with the term 'knowledge building' in my research question. I guess I want to be able to compare other collaborative models with knowledge building, which will require a more open question.

I am interested in how collaborating in an online setting can affect engagement (lots of barriers in online teaching) and epistemic agency 

I've formed a few possible questions, that you are welcome to critique:

1. How can use of 21st-century technologies and constructivist models enhance student engagement and epistemic agency in the online environment?

2. How can collaborative tools increase epistemic agency in the online environment?

3. How can knowledge building communities enhance student engagement and self-efficacy in the online environment?

Feedback, please! I'm trying to write a really rich question that's neither too broad or too narrow.


  1. Kia ora Philippa, great questions but wonder I g what would happen if you prefaced them with "to what extent instead of how.OR if you said "How might...." instead of how can....
    Could create opportunity for more expansive thinking that opens up possibility of a more experimental range of ideas. To what extent...also allows more evaluative conclusions and rewired a critical response.
    Just a quick thought.

  2. Required!! not rewired. Darn predictive txt😁

  3. I like the questions, but could you open them up even more by looking at why they work ie the part of the brain that is engaged or what evidence is there to show higher achievement? These questions are good, my favourite is question 1 by the way as I think it's the broadest one that gives you the most scope. Literature reviews always seem to open up more questions than the ones you started with so maybe being more specific is better if you don't want to be side tracked, having said that I think getting side tracked is the best bit of a lit review so that's why I like question 1. Good luck

  4. Darren told me you have developed a few inquiry questions...

    Just a quick thought:

    How big is your lit review? The reason I am asking is that the first question seems to be too broad. What do you mean by the 21st century technologies? Are you talking about communication technologies, mobile technologies, game-based technologies? And there are many constructivist models supported by the use of technologies. Also, student motivation and engagement have been extensively studied. And thus a lot to read...

    The second question assumes that technologies (collaborative tools) can affect learning/knowledge building (epistemic agency). Is it really the case? Or is the learning design (pedagogy) you are really interested in?

    The third question I think is more focused. The concept self-efficacy is related to agency so it will be interesting to see the connection.

  5. Hi Wing,
    Thanks for your feedback, very helpful for figuring out my focus.
    My literature review can be up to 3500 words.
    I am limited by the word count, but do want to compare models with knowledge building (which I've spent a quite a bit of time reading about this year). I guess it is about figuring out the right language to frame my question. Perhaps selecting a collaborative model that I want to compare with knowledge building?

    I think I am really interested in the learning design and in particular solving the problem of engagement in the online space. There are a number of barriers: limited contact time with students, student isolation, students' unfamiliarity with the subject, being external to the students' face to face environment.
    So maybe I need to frame the question around learning design which enhances student engagement in the online environment.

    Food for thought.

  6. 3,500 words is not much, so you need to be specific.