We have many reasons for expanding opportunities for students to engage in authentic inquiry. We learn best when exploring answers to questions we truly hold, it is good for the soul to explore something you love, and it can be an important distinguishing aspect of a college application. But one of the most important reasons is this: by engaging in authentic inquiry students develop the skills and habits they need to succeed in college and beyond.
For the past six months several of us at the school have been researching this in more detail. We have explored the research literature on correlates of academic success and have put together a summary. The skills fall in six categories: organization skills, classwork and homework skills, critical thinking skills, research skills, communication skills, and mathematical thinking skills. The types of habits include curiosity, reflection, collaboration, and persistence. These – even more than content knowledge – are what students need to thrive as learners in college and beyond. And engaging in authentic academic inquiry is a great way to develop these skills.
We consider our summary to still be in draft form (see it here) and are working to extend our research. Over the past few weeks, I have met with academic and admission leaders at colleges and universities to get their feedback on our summary so we can improve it. All of these leaders are very excited that we are focusing student learning in this way. In my next post I will share some details of those conversations.