Teaching Innovation Projects


Social Work


Knowledge is constructed through active and deep learning (Brew, 2003; Fougner, 2012). Inquiry-based learning (IBL) can facilitate active and deep learning, as it is “a self-directed, question-driven search for understanding” that affords students the opportunity to explore a subject and develop central questions through their exploration (Hudspith & Jenkins, 2007, p.9). The purpose of inquiry is to “develop the skills needed to bring research to bear on the understanding of a central question” (p. 10). To this end, Hudspith and Jenkins (2007) have used this teaching method to incorporate group work into the classroom in the Faculties of Social Science and Humanities and the Faculty of Science at Western University in both core courses and special topic interdisciplinary ones. Furthermore, Justice et al. (2007) describe IBL as a process “about discovery and systematically moving from one level of understanding to another, higher level” (p.202).

Structured controversy is an active learning activity that helps to prepare students for inquiry-based learning. This occurs when students are encouraged to explore a theme (through research) as a member of a group/team who then present or argue against an opposing team’s arguments. Structured controversy works well in a community practice or macro course as a teaching strategy that fosters social action. This active and deep learning activity goes beyond the achievement of learning outcomes from traditional group presentations and “help the student get some background in a particular area, become familiar with disputed issues, and to spark starting points for inquiry” (Hudspith & Jenkins, 2007, p.27). This workshop will provide the instructor with activities used to facilitate a structured controversy and an opportunity to experience this teaching method in order to appreciate the power of this exercise for student learning.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.