Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Inquiry-based learning

If you haven’t come across the idea of inquiry-based learning (IBL) yet, you probably soon will! It is a self-directed way to learn, study and collaborate, working to proactively discover and reflect, rather than passively absorb information that is given to you. More information about the concept can be found here.
For a student perspective from the University of Manchester on IBL and some practical tips on how you can take part, click here.

The University has a Centre for Inquiry-based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences (CILASS) which works with departments to support and develop IBL in teaching practices. Student input and involvement is a key element – each department has a Student Ambassador and there is a CILASS Student Blog and CILASS Student Journal. Details of the History Department’s involvement with CILASS can be found here.

The Library works with CILASS to develop student’s Information Literacy skills. Information Literacy is key to enabling you to engage with IBL. You need the skills to look beyond your reading list, to locate and evaluate sources of information and carry out independent research – the History Subject Guide
and the Arts & Humanities Finding Information Guide are good starting points.
The Library has developed a set of Information Skills Tutorials accessible through MOLE. There are general tutorials on topics such as effective searching of the internet and evaluating information. There are also History specific tutorials. Have a go at the Internet for Historians tutorial produced by the Intute Virtual Training Suite too.

As a student you are part of an academic community in your discipline, and this is another aspect of IBL – get involved! Discussion and the exchange of ideas are key, not just with your immediate peers here at Sheffield, but with academics and students from other institutions. Try searching for blogs and discussion boards about topics of particular interest to you. The Historical Association for instance has online debates, discussion boards and a page specifically for History in higher education. JISCmail lists for history
are particularly valuable when you are thinking about your dissertation – there are a huge number of interest groups on everything from Cornish History to Hadrians Wall to Mining History to the Mass Observation project!

If you come across any websites you find useful, post the link as a comment on here to share your discoveries with other students and let us know why you found it helpful.

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