Exploring metaskills of knowledge-creating inquiry in higher education



The skills of knowledge-creating inquiry are explored as a challenge for higher education. The knowledge-creation approach to learning provides a theoretical tool for addressing them: In addition to the individual and social aspects in regulation of inquiry, the knowledge-creation approach focuses on aspects related to advancing shared objects of inquiry. The development of corresponding metaskills is suggested as an important long-term goal for higher education; these pertain, simultaneously to the individual, collective, and object-oriented aspects of monitoring inquiry. Taking part in collaborative inquiry toward advancing a shared knowledge object is foreseen as a means to facilitate the development of metaskills; the present study examines one undergraduate university course in psychology with that aim. The data consisted of a database discourse and students’ self-reflections after the course, examined by qualitative content analysis. Three analyses investigated discourse evolution, knowledge advancement, and the challenge of the inquiry practices. The student-groups differed markedly in their engagement in the inquiry efforts. The study gave insights concerning novel challenges evoked by knowledge-creating inquiry, relating in particular to commitment, epistemic involvement, dealing with confusion, and the iterative nature of knowledge advancement. We propose the following implication for educational practices: Although dealing with uncertainty and areas beyond one’s expertise, as well as engaging in self-directed collaborative inquiry, may seem overly demanding for students, such experiences are decisive for developing one’s skills in dealing with open-ended knowledge objects in a longer time frame.


Inquiry learning Knowledge-creation Higher education Metaskills Progressive inquiry model Trialogical learning framework Collaborative learning Epistemic objects 



The first author has been supported by a grant from the Finnish Cultural Foundation in preparing this article. We thank Crina Damsa, Kai Hakkarainen, Sami Paavola, and Hal White for their useful comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc.; Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Research on Networked Learning and Knowledge Building, Department of PsychologyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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