Unit One MRDD
Purpose: To understand the concepts of inquiry and authentic learning.
So often, in the haste to make a placement for the individual, the Specialist or counselor may not take the time to do adequate research about the job and also to learn about the individual. In this Unit, I will talk about using two methods to help create a placement that is appealing, engaging and satisfying for the individual. The first method is inquiry.I have included some quotes from various resources to help the learner discover more about these methods. I highly encourage the learner to read more on the cited sources.
"Inquiry is an approach to learning that involves a process of exploring the natural or material world, that leads to asking questions and making discoveries in the search for new understandings." (Institute) In the application of this course, we will demonstrate though the use of the Internet, how to apply the principals of inquire in the process of exploring different careers and finding a personal fit for the individual. Inquiry is an approach where the student (individual) directs the discovery of information through their own questions. “Students have an increased ownership of the process of inquiry if they are motivated by their own questions.” (scroll down to M. Austin )
“Some of the discouragement of our natural inquiry process may come from a lack of understanding about the deeper nature of inquiry-based learning. There is even a tendency to view it as "fluff" learning. Effective inquiry is more than just asking questions. A complex process is involved when individuals attempt to convert information and data into useful knowledge. Useful application of inquiry learning involves several factors: a context for questions, a framework for questions, a focus for questions, and different levels of questions. Well-designed inquiry learning produces knowledge formation that can be widely applied. () In our case, the questions will be supported and directed with the aid of the Specialist/Counselor with the Individual and will direct the individual to look at their hopes and desires for a career with a sense of reality.
The second component of this course is to apply authentic learning and assessment. “Authentic learning involves: real-world problems that engage learners in the work of professionals; inquiry activities that practice thinking skills and metacognition; discourse among a community of learners; and student empowerment through choice.” ( JAL Rule 2006) The job-embedded nature of action research provides a real-world context and the “research” of collecting and analyzing data engages teachers in inquiry and reflection. 
“…start with the teacher’s approach to student achievement through authentic learning, building on what the student knows and is successful at rather than identifying failures and focusing on gaps. Students construct new knowledge and understanding through a process of connections and extensions of their existing understanding of concepts and beliefs. Self-concept is the individual’s understanding or beliefs about himself or herself, developed through external messages delivered by vehicles of enculturation, ultimately shaping who an individual believes he/she is and what he or she can accomplish. For authentic learning to occur there is a need to explore how personal barriers can be overcome so energy can be focused on constructing new knowledge and beliefs geared toward a positive perspective.” 
Image used woth permission from CDS, Inc.
Reflection: At this point, do you feel that understanding the makeup of an individual and their personal goals and dreams should be an important part of the process for employment. Do you have a good understanding of the individual’s needs before you search for a placement? Do you feel that with this population, their expectations are unrealistic and therefore should not be a major part of the search process?
Throughout this course are suggested activities for the specialist/counselor to work on.
Activity: Take an individual who you do not know well. It could be a brand new referral or someone who you think could be moved up to a more challenging position. Maybe it is someone you know a little about from a Community Work team or enclave. Without meeting the person, draw up a plan of ideas that you think would be suitable for this individual. You can use the VESID referral or another agency referral. Do not meet with the person to discuss this process. Write down your ideas of possible placements, and the reason why you think these would be good placements. Include in your list any personality traits which you have either witnessed or are expressed in the referral. Save this list as you will want to refer back to it after this class to see how on track you were. Be sure to include the attributes of the companies and why you think these would work for your individual.
Ed Online (2004). Concept to classroom: Inquiry-based Learning. http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/inquiry/
Institute For Inquiry(2001) Exploratorium: A Description of Inquiry. Retrieved from the Internet on November 23, 2007 at http://www.exploratorium.edu/IFI/resources/inquirydesc.html
Eliott, Cynthia, (2007). Authentic Learning Transforms Student and Teacher Success Journal of Authentic Learning, Volume 4, Number 1, Pages 34-42, June 2007 http://www.oswego.edu/academics/colleges_and_departments/education/jal/index.html
Edwards, R, & Gatlin, L. (2007) Promoting Authentic Learning through a Peaceful and Positive Perspective. Journal of Authentic Learning, Volume 4, Number 1, Pages 1-8, June 2007 http://www.oswego.edu/academics/colleges_and_departments/education/jal/vol4no1/1%20Gatlin%20Edwards%20Editorial%20Peaceful%20Perspective%20p1-8.pdf
On to Unit two Unit two MRDD
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