This is the story of my research journey over the course of the next 4 years. This study specifically investigates how the principles of the educational project of Reggio Emilia can support the design and use of learning environments conducive to inquiry learning, and how these principles may influence teaching practice.The intended tangible outcome of this project for the school will be the evidence based development of a learning environment and inquiry framework to assist school administrators and classroom teachers in the designing of innovative learning environments (ILE).
The completed thesis will tell the story of two journeys, overlapping and intersecting, but distinctly different. The first and central journey is an action research project, consisting of a series of action spirals, set in an independent P-12 school along the East Coast of Australia. The second journey, derived from the first, will be the mainly solitary investigation in which I will perform the recognised tasks of a qualitative researcher: reviewing literature, conducting interviews, analysing data, and theorising about meanings. The outcome of this second journey will be my doctoral report.
This project will involve regular, on-going engagement throughout 2015 with three teacher participants as they actively pursue inquiry based approaches to teaching and learning in preparation. This study specifically investigates how the principles of the educational project of Reggio Emilia can support the design and use of a learning environment conducive to inquiry learning, and how these principles may influence teaching practice.
I envisage significant aspects of these two journeys will coincide for example, literature surveyed for the school-based project will become part of my thesis literature review, and vica versa. Consequently, I intend on developing symbolic “maps” and travel plans as I progress to assist me to make sense of these journeys and the complex interplays between them. Like many travellers, I intend on taking “snapshots”, literally and metaphorically, of events and encounters. My intended travel “diary” in the form of a blog will contain detailed journey entries of feelings, perceptions, conversations and encounters and analyses of situations, problems and opportunities. I also plan to keep “mementos” in the form of transcripts, email messages, letters and invitations as reminders of events and experiences. I intend on embarking on writing a story of this journey using excerpts from these “travel documents”, coupled with understandings gained from researching the “guidebooks” of relevant literature and from learning about the research journeys of others. The “travel report” will be my final thesis, a personal account that will facilitate the development of my “living educational theory” and that will help me reshape and refine my knowledge, beliefs and values about teachers and students as learners, educational change and the potential of learning environments.