Enquiry-Based Learning in the Humanities

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Enquiry based learning has become a feature of many fields of professional education, such as medicine and engineering, but its use in the humanities and social sciences is much less well developed. However problem-, project- or case-based learning has the potential to assist in developing an applied humanities, promoting the relevance of the humanities in a ‘career-ready’ education. While universities have strongly established traditions of applied physics or applied mathematics, and programs in architecture and education are grounded in real world applications, the idea of an applied humanities has yet to take root. Using an enquiry based approach to teach humanities courses allows students to apply the social and cultural knowledge they have gained to real-world applications such as producing discussion papers, developing community grant applications, planning local events or designing social organizations, developing specific community resources, and consulting on a range of contemporary issues. The enquiry based approach makes overt the connections between the humanities and everyday life. However there are barriers to its implementation. Case studies of project-based courses in the humanities, and interviews with humanities academics reveals a number of impediments from particular views about the status of knowledge, and disciplinary teaching cultures, to practical concerns with demands on time and energy.


Keywords: PBL, Case Based Learning, Humanities, Project Based Learning
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Enquiry-Based Learning in the Humanities


Dr. Marjorie Kibby

Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Social Science, The University of Newcastle
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Marjorie Kibby teaches cultural studies courses including Music and Culture, Technology and Culture and Communication and Culture at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Over recent years she has been moving to a case-based pedagogical model as a way of making learning more student-centered and experiential, of making overt the real-world applications of cultural studies, and of developing in students a range of skills. Her research interests include the investigation of use of hybrid teaching methods that combine face-to-face and online teaching and learning to maximize the advantages of both forms.

Ref: L08P0283