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Article of Volume 4, Issue 2, June 2009

Exploring metaskills of knowledge-creating inquiry in higher education

Authors: Hanni Muukkonen, Minna Lakkala

Abstract: The skills of knowledge-creating inquiry are explored as a challenge for higher education. The knowledge-creation approach to learning provides a theoretical tool for addressing them: In addition to the individual and social aspects in regulation of inquiry, the knowledge-creation approach focuses on aspects related to advancing shared objects of inquiry. The development of corresponding metaskills is suggested as an important long-term goal for higher education; these pertain, simultaneously to the individual, collective, and object-oriented aspects of monitoring inquiry. Taking part in collaborative inquiry toward advancing a shared knowledge object is foreseen as a means to facilitate the development of metaskills; the present study examines one undergraduate university course in psychology with that aim. The data consisted of a database discourse and students’ self-reflections after the course, examined by qualitative content analysis. Three analyses investigated discourse evolution, knowledge advancement, and the challenge of the inquiry practices. The student-groups differed markedly in their engagement in the inquiry efforts. The study gave insights concerning novel challenges evoked by knowledge-creating inquiry, relating in particular to commitment, epistemic involvement, dealing with confusion, and the iterative nature of knowledge advancement. We propose the following implication for educational practices: Although dealing with uncertainty and areas beyond one’s expertise, as well as engaging in self-directed collaborative inquiry, may seem overly demanding for students, such experiences are decisive for developing one’s skills in dealing with open-ended knowledge objects in a longer time frame.

Keywords: Inquiry learning, Knowledge-creation, Higher education, Metaskills, Progressive inquiry model, Trialogical learning framework, Collaborative learning, Epistemic objects

Citation: Muukkonen, H. & Lakkala, M. (2009) Exploring metaskills of knowledge-creating inquiry in higher education. ijcscl 4 (2), pp. 187-211

DOI: 10.1007/s11412-009-9063-y

Preprint: Acrobat-PDF muukkonen_lakkala_4_2.pdf

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