Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Impact of a Principle-Based Pedagogical Design on Inquiry-Based Learning in a Seamless Learning Environment in Hong Kong

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Impact of a Principle-Based Pedagogical Design on Inquiry-Based Learning in a Seamless Learning Environment in Hong Kong

Article excerpt


Educational reform calls for a paradigm shift to learner-centred domain knowledge learning. It is well recognised that the inquiry-based learning approach is a useful pedagogy for realising learner-centred learning (Marshall, Smart, & Horton, 2010). The inquiry-based learning process helps learners to develop inquiry skills, which are an important type of 21st century skill. The development of inquiry skills takes root during a child's senior primary school years (Lakkala, Lallimo, & Hakkarainen, 2005). Digital classrooms are on the rise; students are connected and learn in a 'one learner to one computer' setting, and teachers are expected to be prepared to lead students to learner-centred learning in such classrooms as early as the primary school stage. The use of online learning platforms inside and outside digital classrooms supports resource access and peer interaction to develop students' domain knowledge and inquiry skills (Kong & So, 2008; Lakkala et al., 2005). Incorporating the inquiry-based learning pedagogy into a seamless learning environment may thus be a potential method for realising learner-centred educational goals and driving teachers to apply and reflect on pedagogical designs. This study presents a design-based research framework for principle-based pedagogical design for inquiry-based learning in seamless learning environments. It details and reports the results of an initial study conducted using this framework in a Hong Kong primary school.

Research framework

With the goal of finding a meaningful and sustainable method of developing the teacher competence necessary to facilitate inquiry-based learning in a seamless learning environment, this research study seeks to address two issues. First, the method for developing teacher competence should be in line with the method for developing learner competence in inquiry-based learning. Second, the method for developing teacher competence should present evidence of the development of teacher competence and student learning improvement. This study adopts a principle-based approach to developing and implementing pedagogical designs for inquiry-based learning. This approach, which differs from the conventional approach that emphasises "best practices" with prescribed procedures, provides more flexible scaffolding under guiding principles. It attempts to build up teachers' capacity to promote inquiry-based learning in a manner aligned with learners' inquiry-based learning practice. This study also adopts a design-based research approach to developing and refining pedagogical designs for inquiry-based learning guided by instructional principles. It exposes teachers to the process of progressive refinement in pedagogical designs driven by principles and supported by empirical evidence. In light of these issues, we propose an overarching research framework on the use of principle-based pedagogical designs for inquiry-based learning in a seamless learning environment, as shown in Figure 1.

A design-based research method is adopted to prepare teachers to effectively develop pedagogical designs that are premised on instructional principles. Learners learn in a seamless learning environment to develop the necessary skills to practice inquiry-based learning.

Inquiry-based learning includes three approaches: structured, guided and open inquiry, listed in ascending order of the learner's autonomy over setting investigation problems and planning problem-solving procedures (Colburn, 2000). The literature suggests that the guided inquiry approach is especially suitable for young learners, as teachers only select core issues that are worthy of a learner's inquiry (Hakkarainen, 2003; Marshall et al., 2010; Song & Looi, 2012). According to Wong and Looi (2011), seamless learning environments provide learners with opportunities to make use of diverse resources and tools in digital formats for learning and communication, which is initiated in digital classrooms and extended to online interactions. …

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