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Title: Evaluating the effectiveness of facilitating inquiry based learning on Facebook to advance domain knowledge and develop enquiry skills
Authors: Khomo, Feziwe Lindiwe Yvonne 
Issue Date: 9-May-2019
This research involved a quest to discover a way, involving technology, which would encourage students to take the lead and take ownership of their own learning and rely less on the lecturer. It sought to investigate a learning approach that would encourage students to be proactive in their learning whilst increasing their domain knowledge. The study was instigated by a concern for what the researcher experienced as students’ negative attitude towards learning. She identified Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) as a learning model that would ignite critical and creative skills and encourage students to take responsibility of their own learning. Thus, the purpose of the study was to investigate a technology-assisted approach to investigate a technology-assisted approach to developing skills for discovering and creating new knowledge.

Taking into consideration that most students of the 21st century own technological tools and most have accounts on social network platforms, the study sought to determine whether IBL could be facilitated on the social network platform, Facebook. A case-study, mixed-methods approach was employed. The researcher relied on statistical analysis done by the program SPSS for the analysis of the quantitative data and a qualitative program, NVivo, for analyzing words selected by the students. In addition, observation of the interactions on Facebook assisted materially in drawing conclusions as to whether the objectives were met.

In terms of determining an appropriate IBL-oriented model for the study, the findings suggest that the intrinsic attributes of IBL such as collaboration, interaction and engagement can be enhanced on Facebook as students attempted to answer the questions related to an Inquiry Based Scenario question. However, only a limited number of the respondents found the approach and the intervention fully effective.

In terms of exploring the usage of Facebook, students expressed a sense of fulfilment and appreciation for the platform with regard to sharing and accessing information. On the other hand, a majority also found the experience challenging; were not fully enthusiastic about this form of learning; and nor did they feel that it would be sufficient if used in isolation from traditional learning methods. In addition, the researcher acknowledged that participation on Facebook was not as she had envisaged it. Further, the study evaluated the facilitation of an IBL “Classroom” environment on Facebook. The interaction on Facebook and the responses to the perception regarding this objective indicated positive results. However, only a limited number of respondents acknowledged that the “classroom” challenged their thinking capabilities, stretched their thinking, or led to deeper thinking.

Lastly, the study observed improvements in understanding learning material and the development of a higher order of learning by taking into account (with the assistance of NVivo) the choice of words used in answering the questions related to the IBL scenario posted on Facebook. Further, based on the attempts of the participants to tackle the questions, the researcher concluded that an improvement was attained. In addition, the responses by the students acknowledge that domain knowledge and understanding of the learning unit was improved. It is, however, also important to note that the limited time frame allocated for the study, and the lack of a systematic approach in scaffolding the teaching principles and learning process, had an effect on students’ adoption of the intervention and on the desired outcomes.

Based on the findings and challenges encountered, the researcher was able to shed light on certain aspects that need to be considered for an effective inclusion of technological instruments within traditional learning. The study confirmed important aspects revealed in the literature, while the positive effective of the intervention on desired outcomes was encouraging. It could therefore be concluded that the findings were able to address the main objectives of the study.
Submitted in fulfillment of the academic requirement of the degree of Masters in Information Communication and Technology, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa. 2019.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Accounting and Informatics)

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