Enquiry-Based Learning in the Humanities

Kibby, Marjorie
May 2008
International Journal of Learning;2008, Vol. 15 Issue 1, p255
Academic Journal
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.


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