EdgyDad's Logo
Lot for Sale Design Build 1718 Whittier East Dallas White Rock Lake Texas USA Cycling Certified Coach Ironman CDA 2007 Ironman CDA 2010 Ironman Ironman Wisconsin Biff's Real Estate Company Logo Live Local East Dallas Picture of Biff in Barcelona ad2

Pictures are worth a thousand words!...

Who is EdgyDad?

Husband, father, inline skater, cycling and triathlon athlete and sometimes coach, graduate civil engineer, commercial and residential and commercial Broker Realtor® working in Ellum, Expo Park, Munger, Peak Suburban, PD 98, PD 269, Swiss Avenue, Baylor PD, all of in-town east Dallas, former home building land acquisitions executive, home builder, home designer (chief architect X3 design solutions), LEED Green Associate (GA), NAHB Green Professional (CGP), NAHB Graduate Builder (CGB), Universal Design and Accessability student and Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS), Advanced Historic Home Specialist certified by Preservation Dallas..........EdgyDad is Biff Bailey of Dallas, Texas

Blog Topics

Home Building, Styles, Universal Design
Endurance Sports
East Dallas Real Estate
Cooking Eating for Good Health
Coffee, Coffee Beans, Roasting, Espresso
Big Money, Big Business
Balance and Sustainability

Biff Bailey's Real Estate Home Page

Contact EdgyDad

About EdgyDad

Resource Links Page

Admin Pages

Case Study Ecology

Examination of an inquiry based research project and considerations to bear in mind. Don't put Dr. Halmos on your list of experts to contact!

Last Update: 2012-07-10 06:47:38

Scenario: Case Study “Ecology” (Roblyer & Doring, 2010)

Each semester two science teachers in two different schools give their high school students an ecological problem to solve related to conditions in their local area. After each class has collected data from online sources provided by the teachers, each student has to analyze the data, figure out the cause of the problem, and create a proposed solution. Students use the project website to display their collected data and solutions. Local scientists and interested citizens are asked to judge the solutions and to write an analysis of the feasibility of each. Then the students discus their solutions and how they might improve them, based on the judges’ input.


“The students use the project website to display their collected data and solutions.  Local scientists and interested citizens are asked to judge the solutions and to write and analysis of the feasibility of each.”

Administering the logistics of collaborative aspects of this project would be laborious and time consuming without the use of internet resources.  It seems to be assumed here that there is adequate and equal internet access available and that the appropriate outside email and internet channels are open within the schools internet management software.  If this is so, then there are several relative advantages.

Web tools can be used to help the students organize and display the data in clear ways.  Web tools can facilitate research and collaboration.  For example,

Google Docs could be a place that spreadsheets, reports and presentations are created, stored, shared, edited and published.  Alternatively, the documents could be displayed on a page formatted as a blog where reviewers can provide comments.  Another possibility is using a wiki.

Whatever technological vehicle(s) are chosen, the relative advantage is tools are available to capture and format information, including data, collected research, digital images, analysis and conjectures, etc.  In addition ease of review and collaboration are enhanced by locating the materials on the internet where it always available to multiple simultaneous users according to managed sharing policies.

The case Ecology is an example of inquiry based learning, in this case web-based.  Malloy, et. al. (2011, p. 38) define inquiry learning as:

“Students are presented with “real-life” cases.  Learning begins with a problem to be solved, and students investigate their own hypotheses.  They define the problem, create hypotheses, gather and analyze data and evaluate or justify solutions.” 

As an example, they state “Students are presented with an environmental situation and they try to identify probable problems and solutions by identifying available evidence.” 

And they identify technology supports as follows: “Students engage in electronic communications with experts.  Students conduct online research into environmental topics.  Computer interfaces support exchange and sharing of information among students, encouraging them to question processes, make mistakes, and monitor their own learning.”

McCghren (2012) includes inquiry learning is a topic covered in detail in Chapter 9  In that text, however, Inquiry learning is classified as a teacher centered method.

Librarians could contribute bibliographies for the environmental topics.  References could include current events and news, background articles and professional journals related to the topic, professional organizations and professional directories.  Library printed resources and other non-electronic resources would be reserved.  As noted below, it can be anticipated that the students will need assistance and support in to find appropriate materials.

Earlier I made an assumption about adequate and equal internet access, implying that this is required for the success of this learning project.  Wanting to anticipate other potential barriers to success, I reviewed some other sources including Jun and POW (June, 2011).  June and POW conducted a case study of web-based collaborative inquiry learning (WCIL) with 42 students age 14 to 15 and following a similar plan to Ecology case.

Jun and POW highlighted that “The level of accuracy of accessing information of students was comparatively low…”  They take this to indicate the need to develop better searching strategies and skills.  I agree.  They also note “The students reported that they needed more support in the stages of inquiry material collation and analysis.”  Finally, they reported that the student’s ability to synthesize the collected material into a well-organized inquiry report was problematic – the content of the majority of the reports was “thin” and the reports were somewhat patchwork in nature. 

Jun and POW note that similar problems were reported by Kuiper it al. (2009), stating in summary that many students tried to find precise answers to their questions but lacked the skills to recognize and integrate pieces of useful information when they composed the answers themselves.

Two other notes from Jun and POW (2011) are important.  First, they devised and incorporated into their case study a set of eight tutorial lessons, each one to one and one-half hours in length to organize, support , monitor, direct and re-direct the activities of the students.   They are devoting eight to 12 hours to support the activity in addition to time required to execute the activity itself.  Second they note that the project spanned about four months and was done during a time when the students were relatively free from high stakes examinations.  It is important to properly estimate both the time and support required by WCIL activities in order to promote their success.

In summary, relative advantages to using web resources in inquiry learning activities are seen in the areas of research, data collection and organization, document creation, data and document sharing and collaboration.  Care should be taken to address issues of time, space and internet access appropriately.  Careful attention to tutoring, monitoring and guiding the students in all phases of the project are critical to the success of WCIL. 



Roblyer, M.D., & Doering. A.N. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 271.

FU Jun and Jacky POW, Fostering Digital Literacy through Web-based Collaborative Inquiry Learning – A Case Study, Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, Volume 10, 2011, Retrieved April 8, 2012 from www.jite.org/documents/Vol10/JITEv10IIPp057-071Jun930.pdf

Kuiper, E., Volman, M., & Terwel, J. (2009). Developing web literacy in collaborative inquiry activities. Computers & Education, 52, 668–680. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2008.11.010

Malloy, et. al. (2011). Transforming Learning with New Technologies.  Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2011, p. 38

McCaghren, (2012) Management and Curriculum Development for Diverse Learners, (McGraw-Hill Create p. 339 et. seq.)

Reader Comments

by: on:

Add a Comment

Your Name:
Your Email:
Privacy Policy
A value is required.Invalid format.
Comments without valid email address may be deleted.
Title Your
Write Your
Comment Here:

Type A74-Bxp/9
to validate yourself

A value is required. Invalid format.