I just finished the last week for my inquiry workshop. I really enjoyed it and it has fired me up the start of the school year. At the end of the workshop we had to evaluate the program and fill out a HUGE questionnaire. One of the questions I had trouble answering was what I liked the most. I really couldn't decided. There were two aspects that I liked equally.
One, I liked learning! We spent three weeks going through common procedures in microbiology and molecular biology. Two subjects that I really enjoyed in college. We made plates, cultures, Inserted genes using plasmids, examined digested pieces to cut p the DNA, examined the DNA on an agarose gel and ran a PCR. I was so bummed that my PCR didn't work! It was such a short course that I did not get the chance to run the PCR again. Most of this workshop was HANDS on. It required me to remember and review what we would be doing before, or after, we did it. We had very active discussions about what we were learning, and I enjoyed the learning! It made me miss going to school myself and learn more on the subject.
The second thing that I enjoyed about this workshop was the dive right in attitude. It was essentially good, but to dive right in without really knowing what your doing, or having time to review what you will be doing, is hectic. Without really knowing what the product is we were asked to perform many complicated laboratory techniques that most of us have never done before. I had done some of these things in my undergraduate classes and in other workshops, but very few others had done this. Its not so much that I enjoyed the feeling of being unsure, its that I realized that this is what most of my students must experience when expected to learn some very complicated biological processes. This dive in attitude put me in their shoes.
Using Inquiry learning strategies in the class can help lower the amount of students not sure of what to do. Unfortunately I have found that most of my students do not like science. I found this out by asking them if they like science at the start of the year. So when I give instruction or lecture on a biological process they don't pay close attention because its something they are not interested in. Using Inquiry strategy I can get them hooked in by allowing them to choose what they want to investigate(within current topic of study). Now I'm not dumb, I know its not going to get all of them. But even a 10-20% increase in students who become interested in what we are learning because they get to find out information that they are interested would be excellent.
I also realized that I do want to go back to school. I want to increase/sharpen what I know.
So its a bummer that the workshop is over, but I did gain alot from it!