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    Creative Inquiry

    Next month, Wilkes will send a team of five to the conference on UGR that we have been talking about: Helen Davis, Chad Stanley, Janet Starner, Evene Estwick, and Linda Winkler will attend. I will also take in a pre-conference workshop on UGR in the Humanities, and I am really looking forward to learning more about how to develop formal structures that offer students and faculty these collaborative experiences.

    And that's how I am coming to see UGR: as mentored, collaborative inquiry. I seem to be doing a lot of it lately, and I have been inspried to do so by students with whom I am collaborating. I don't know that any of us would have thought to call what we are doing "research" as short a time ago as last fall. But I am liking better all the time, a broader--and expanding as we speak!--definition of the term 'research.' And while I am eager to attend this conference, it dawned on me some months ago that I don't have to wait to jump into the inquiry process myself. I've always been curious, and I've always looked for answers. The difference in my approach now is that I have begun to rquire of myself that I ask how can I collaborate with students in finding those answers? and how can I share with students the pure joy of the hunt as well as the sublime pleasures of discovery?

    Example: Senior Kristen Pechulis and I are engaged in an Independent Study project this semester, that inquires about the reading act, as practiced (or not) by first year students enrolled in Eng 101. Kristen has observed students in her own classes, in writing classes she has mentored, and at the Writing Center shoot themselves in the foot where writing projects are concerned because they fail to do the required reading, or when they do, they engage in 'skimming' rather than digesting assigned texts. When it seems so clear (at least to Kristen, and to me) that this behavior is counterproductive, why do it?

    Kristen has a few hypotheses that she is testing out, and she is reading around in the literature to educate herself about what others have said about this issue. She recently discovered an essay called Conducting Assignments by Richard Leahy that urges collaboration among students and instructors as the latter develop assignments. She shared it with me, and I very much liked the idea Leahy suggests. I'll try it out today in class with my own group of Eng 101 students. Meanwhile, I'll also use the same technique tonight in Eng 342, so Kristen will get a chance to be on the 'other end' of the process.

    Answering real questions in service to real problems is 'research' worth doing, inquiry that has high impact, and 'learning' that is just-in-time (to use a business buzz word). What could be better?

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    This Page was last update: Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 1:16:03 PM
    This page was originally posted: 10/6/10; 1:00:47 PM.
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