Book Reviews

Book by Virginia Lee
Review by Karen S. Markel, Ph.D. SPHR
Associate Professor
Department of Management
Oakland University

Virginia Lee’s edited collection of essays, illustrates what inquiry-guided learning (IGL) is through the presentation of eight case studies that the author considers best practices.  This book is a good resource for practitioners wanting to model inquiry guided learning or scholars in this area of research.  One contributor to this volume, Phillipa Levy, provides a very succinct definition of IGL that proves useful to our understanding of this approach, “IGL is defined here as a cluster of related instructional approaches in which student inquiry or research drives the student experience of learning and participation in knowledge building (p. 19).”  The case studies described provide examples of how IGL is used in a variety of contexts.

Authors who have experienced inquiry guided learning at the institutions included write the eight case studies that comprise this volume.  Much of the research on IGL stems from its roots outside the United States.  This volume is the first to include examples of effective implementation at universities within the United States.  Each case study provides a rich description that illustrates a unique contribution to the overall volume. What is especially important about these studies is the richness of their descriptions.  For example, in many chapters, the models that guided the institution’s IGL process were included and detailed.  The volume also includes a chapter on how IGL can be effectively assessed.  Together, the case study examples provide a rich context for IGL implementation, from considerations in adopting such an educational approach to closing the learning loop through effective assessment.  The case studies also illustrate the wide application of IGL.  For example, the cases studies detail IGL implementation in a variety of disciplines in universities ranging from large institutions to small as well as with undergraduate and graduate students.  The editor does an excellent job of choosing those case studies to inform readers of the possibilities for using IGL.

As faculty across institutions face increasing pressure to both increase teaching effectiveness as well as research engagement, IGL could be a means to do both.  Many of the examples included discussed how their IGL program was initiated at an institutional level (e.g. government or accrediting body), but once employed, both faculty and students described an improved educational experience that they plan to continue. The editor concludes Inquiry Guided Learning with a comparison of each case study along multiple dimensions.  This comparison supports her initial proposition that IGL can provide a means for university stakeholders to promote the valued learning outcomes of “critical thinking, problem solving, taking responsibility for one’s own learning and the desire for lifelong learning (p. 6).”  In this volume, the editor provides an important set of examples to inform readers interested applying IGL to their own educational institutions.


Inquiry Guided Learning: New Directions for Teaching and Learning, number 129, Spring 2012. Book by Virginia S. Lee (Ed.). Review by Karen S. Markel. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 128 pp. ISBN # 978-1-1182-9923-4

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