Authentic Inquiry as Engineers


Students put their electrical engineering designs to the test and share their findings.

Rich learning happens through authentic inquiry: when learning has meaning beyond the classroom and a single purpose. As part of an opportunity for our students to think like and to become engineers, we explored the ways that engineers mapped out their ideas according to a “standard” – on arriving at consensus, our learners were tasked with designing and prototyping a new light circuit for the exterior of our school building. Risk taking was encouraged and ideas were validated using critical thinking, technology support, and physical prototype construction.

Students Inform Teacher Growth

Teacher Feedback Form including questions about meeting individual learning needs, and caring about each student.

My first teacher feedback form includes questions about meeting individual learning needs, and caring about each student.

Part of my development as a teacher means the intentional gathering of student feedback to inform my practice. While we may not always reach consensus, we can move towards it by understanding each other (as fellow learners), and providing constructive feedback for growth – this is a two-way relationship.

A myriad of data points and assessment help us inform our practice – and ensuring every student experience success falls to us. This artifact demonstrates a survey used to capture student feedback that informs my practice.

The first intentional and targeted feedback session for myself was on November 30, 2016, using the above form – I got great feedback from my students that I had not even considered, and I am thinking about each and every comment and how I can challenge my practice to meet the requests so that every student is engaged in their learning. From this data, I recognize several areas for growth with my class:

  • Helping students understand my role as a “Lead Learner” – and not always an expert,
  • Supporting a classroom culture where asking questions is encouraged by both myself and by students in my classroom – i.e. not a lecture, but a conversation,
  • Making sure I am confirming students understand a concept or idea before letting them continue their group or independent work.

Learning through Becoming

Students analyze and reflect on two contrasting pieces of art to understand their era, using their prior knowledge.

Students analyze and reflect on two contrasting pieces of art to understand their era, using their prior knowledge.

“Experts” are individuals who understand something well and can apply it. Students can become experts, too – and our role as teachers is to facilitate the use of their prior knowledge for this capacity! For this activity, students became art critics, and analyzed and compared pieces of of Renaissance and Middle Ages Art (to understand which was which, and to critique its adherence to style).

Think, Wonder, Explore, Learn

Sample of a TWEL chart, designed to promote thinking visibility, challenge assumptions, and encourage curiosity.

Sample of a TWEL chart, designed to promote thinking visibility, challenge assumptions, and encourage curiosity.

My intention in learning is that each student will be able to achieve success in learning, which requires that they take ownership in their own learning. This sample is based on my own adaption on KWL – it challenges the nature of “knowing”, and instead uses “what we think we know” as a focusing question (See: Making Thinking Visible, 2011). The Think, Wonder, Learn, Explore chart allows students to challenge their assumptions, document their curiosities, come up with their own strategies to learn, and synthesize their learning.

Sharing and Collaborating in Learning

img_0130November 2016 was an exciting time as I was privileged to attend both the Open Learning Consortiums Accelerate 2016 conference, and the Institute for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (iSoTL)’s SoTL Symposim 2016. These were great opportunities to share my work, and to learn about other great work going on across the world.

Our work for OLC Accelerate is also being published in the British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET)’s special edition on Learning Partnerships (a link will be added once it’s available).

Design Learning Together, Own Learning Together

Students designed the criteria in real-time with the teacher – a negotiation with joint ownership and understood accountability.

Artifact Slides

We know that learning assessment criteria need to be understood by students, but that they’re also more likely to buy into it if they feel they have some sense of ownership (See: Davies, 2000; Friesen, 2009). This way, students know the expectations of their learning, and are actively thinking about them before they engage in the learning tasks.

This rubric was created jointly using a single-point rubric and the Rocky View Schools assessment criteria terms to demonstrate places of meeting or exceeding the standard, or requiring growth towards the standard.

The most exciting part of this learning was seeing students take meaningful roles in their learning, and be reflective according to the criteria that they had earlier created democratically with myself as the lead learner. During the learning activities, we were able to fairly refer back to it and discuss expectations, and when completing the self-assessment, students were able to reflect on their learning in a common, accessible language with clear targets.

Professionally, this andecdotal case helped me understand the literature in practice:

  • Learning targets need to be clear and accessible to students
  • When learning expectations are developed with students, those students can understand them
  • Students have a strong understanding of good work, and their expectations of excellence

Professional Development

Original: November 7, 2014 – Updated: September 17, 2016

I have attended in participant roles, and presenter roles, a number of practice and professional development workshops and conferences, including:

  • Mount Royal University Student Research Days, 2014 (Presenter)
  • IDEAS 2014 Conference (Presenter)
  • Innovate West 2014 (Participant)
  • Dabrowski Congress 2014 (Presenter)
  • Classroom Management – ATA PD (Participant)
  • Calgary Teacher’s Convention 2015 (Participant)
  • Open Education Summit 2015 (Participant)
  • Managing Anxiety and Worry – MRU PD (Participant)


The 2015/2016 SAMRU Executive Committee

The 2015/2016 SAMRU Executive Committee

Teachers are leaders in their communities. During my time as a student, I was elected by my peers and spent a year working full-time as the Vice-President Academic of the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University.

In this role, I was the chief correspondent with the University community on matters of an academic nature related to students. I worked closely with the University’ President, Provost, Registrar, and Deans – as well as faculty. I was the chief representative on our Academic Parliament and spent much of the year advocating for changes and implementing policy.

I was supported by a team of volunteer student advisors who greatly informed by work, and . I’m also incredibly thankful to have come to this work as an educator – with pedagogical principles to guide my work.

My primary initiatives for the year included:

  • Awareness Campaigns on Student Rights
  • Readmission Opportunities and Success Programs for Vulnerable Students
  • A Fall Reading Week for Mental Health
  • Adoption and Growth of Open Educational Resources (OERs)

Human Research

TCPS 2 Certificate, and HREB Board Member

Certification to conduct human research in Canada granted by the Research Ethics Board after successful completion of the TCPS 2 tutorial.

I was also a member of the Mount Royal University Human Research Ethics Board (HREB), where I reviewed and contributed to the development of Human Research applications as a secondary reviewer, and full-board reviewer.