Student Driven Inquiry – Process vs Product

Last month in the Primary School we found ourselves in the midst of the Year 6 Exhibition; which is essentially a student driven, inquiry-based research project that extends over a period of approximately 12 weeks. It overwhelms both students and teachers and engulfs us all in questions, that create yet more questions, challenges and of course there is always a little bit of drama! This is student driven inquiry at its best and it injects a wide range of emotions into learning. For me personally, it is when I can see learning brought to life, largely because of the relationships and connections that are formed during this demanding process.

It is the process that I want to emphasise here. So much of learning (at any age) is about the final product and the learner is so focused on the end result throughout the journey to get there that the learning along the way can get undervalued. What I love about the Exhibition and how it has evolved at our school is the focus upon the process, it is the means through which the learning takes place.

Depending upon who you speak to on any one day during the yearly ISM Exhibition journey towards our final Exhibition ‘product’, you might hear exclamations of joy, despair, satisfaction or even frustration. This is even more prevalent when groups meet for their weekly ‘planning time’ with their mentors. The Mentors have a unique and central role in encouraging, questioning and guiding their particular group to be successful and help students stay on track during the inquiry process.
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For a glimpse into some of the process and understand the final ‘product’ have a look at our student blogs. Each group kept a regular journal during the Exhibition process and at the end of the inquiry they uploaded their learning to share with everyone.
Enjoy learning about The Mediterranean with Year 6!
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Connecting Learning

What memory do you have of a meaningful learning experience as a child? More often than not our most meaningful learning experiences don’t happen in school. How can this be? Isn’t school supposed to be where we do our learning? Today, in my mind, education should strive to build the bridge between daily life experiences and learning in the classroom. Often, our significant learning experiences as a child are linked to learning to do something collectively as a team; or a creative project or challenge when we felt curiousity to find out more; or when we had the motivation and desire to achieve a goal.

Finding out what young learners are curious about and sparking their interest is key. As is a shared understanding of the purpose behind the learning activities they are experiencing in school. The more that learning is meaningful and engaging to students, the more actual lasting learning will happen.

With so much talk about individualised learning, learner responsibility and personalized learning journeys, I found this interesting reading:


It may be somewhat extreme, but the message seems to be simple: sharing personal learning goals, allowing learner’s to take responsibility, reflecting on learning and making authentic connections, are all central to instilling a desire to become lifelong learners.