Inquiry-based learning

This semester, I attempted to cultivate an inquiry-based approach to learning in my classes, structured around core questions for group discussion. Over the course of the semester, I found that simplifying these questions as much as possible often allowed for deeper, more interrogative and collaborative discussion, and I structured them around Bloom’s taxonomy of learning – moving from the ‘what’, through the ‘how’ and eventually to the ‘why’. As an entry point to these conversations, I attempted increasingly to make use of a number visual approaches, including mapping activities, diagrams and design challenges (see below).

Visual thinking

I have increasingly sought to experiment with more visual approaches to teaching and learning, and have developed new class-room activities which use visuals as a way in to interrogating core themes and issues. For example, I devised an activity whereby students were asked to design a new badge for a reformed Police Service for Northern Ireland (mirroring an exercise actually undertaken as a result of the 1999 ‘Patten’ report on policing in Northern Ireland). Thinking about contested and inclusive symbolism provided a constructive and collaborative entry point into an in-depth examination of deeper issues in representation, policing, authority and democracy in Northern Ireland’s ‘deeply divided’ society (and beyond).