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With/In the Stream: Student-Teachers Navigating the Waters of Inquiry Open Access


Other title
Process Philosophy
Teacher Education
Pre-Service Teacher
Field Experience
Alfred North Whitehead
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Stogre, Tanya D
Supervisor and department
Fidyk, Alexandra (Secondary Education)
Examining committee member and department
Peck, Carla (Elementary Education)
den Heyer, Kent (Secondary Education)
Towers, Jo (Education)
Winchester, Ian (Education)
Smits, Hans (Education)
Department of Secondary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
In recent years, inquiry has become ubiquitous within educational circles and the research literature. With widespread focus in education, current research and policy documents on inquiry reflected this emphasis. For example, in Alberta, a spotlight on inquiry arose with the inception of the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI) in 1999. As well, Focus on Inquiry: A Teacher’s Guide to Implementing Inquiry Based Learning came out in 2004 from Alberta Learning, supporting classroom teachers in embracing inquiry. With the importance placed on inquiry, it seems plausible student-teachers would be well-versed in understanding and enacting inquiry. However, little research focusing on the ways student-teachers might understand, experience, interpret or enact inquiry after a field placement at an inquiry-based school, exists. The philosophical frame for this study uses the learning theory of Alfred North Whitehead. Specifically, Whitehead’s focus on the “stream of life,” encompassing each individual’s concrete learning experiences (1929a) informs this research inquiry. In contrast to opportunities for students and student-teachers engaging in alive and contextual learning, much of the schooling happening today remains standardized and created for a “one size fits all” model. Whitehead’s work offers openings and potentialities for deep and meaningful learning crafted within a living educational ecosystem. The purpose of this interpretive research lies in understanding the ways five student-teachers, experienced, understood, and enacted inquiry after an eight-week field placement at an inquiry-based middle school. Experience and understanding of inquiry require practice in living with it to become knowledgeable. Journeying, attunement, and wayfinding are critical in student-teachers’ understanding and becoming experienced with/in inquiry-based teaching-and-learning. The student-teachers’ whose experience with/in inquiry arise during our conversations discuss the importance of venturing with others—the students they taught, their mentor-teachers, other student-teachers in their cohort, as well as their university supervisor. Each and every facet of the educational ecosystem inheres responsibility for supporting student-teachers throughout their journeying with/in the stream of inquiry-based teaching-and-learning. Student-teachers, journeying with others, must be courageous and willing to enter the dark, cavernous lair because the scary, challenging, adverse conditions of teaching-and-learning allow one to become experienced with/in inquiry. Several student-teachers describe the difficult and uncomfortable moments requiring discipline as some of the most meaningful in their field placement. However, we should heed Whitehead’s (1929a) emphasis that; along with discipline, freedom, and romance—cultivating joy, adventure and teaching-and-learning teeming with life is of import. Insights emerging from this study reveal that inquiry-based teaching and learning means different things for different student-teachers and a lot remains at play in student-teachers experiencing, understanding, and enacting inquiry. Student-teachers seeing, feeling, experiencing, and enacting inquiry throughout all aspects of their program—as an educational ecosystem appears critical. This study contributes to the growing body of literature on inquiry, while also offering needed research concerning the ways in which student-teachers understand, navigate, and enact inquiry, within an inquiry-based environment. The significance of this study lies in its potential to help inform teacher preparation programs and field placements through student-teachers’ understanding of inquiry, as well as aiding practitioners in the field. Theoretical and practical insights gleaned from this study may provide important contributions to future student-teacher field placements at an inquiry-based site.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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