Expeditionary learning for inclusive education; five case studies from the field

Thumbnail Image
MacLeod, Glenys
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The dynamic nature of our knowledge of the world, ever-changing and expanding, requires the adoption of a new pedagogical stance for learning and living mathematics. Mathematics education should excite all students about the world around them and inspire them to investigate problems and propose solutions. Expeditionary Learning (MacLeod, 2016) seeks to inspire a spirit of wonder and curiosity that stays with each learner for life. Expeditionary Learning is the result of a search to create a highly inclusive approach to teaching and learning through which mathematics is learned by being in the field, where mathematicians do their learning and work, and by telling the stories of our adventures. Initially, pieces of the constructivist approach (Bruner, 1961, Dewey, 1938), universal design for learning (Katz, 2013; Metcalf, 2011), inquiry learning (Alvarado & Herr, 2003; McQueen, 2003), problem-based learning (Evensen & Hmelo, 2000; Savery & Duffy, 2001), place-based learning (Brunswick, 1943; Washor & Mojkowski, 2013), the Reggio Emilia approach (Edwards, Gandini & Forman, 2012; Moss, 2004), Markerspace (Martinez & Stager, 2013; Papert, 1972) and traditional direct instruction (Kirschner, Sweller & Clark, 2006) that allowed all learners to be mathematicians were combined. Further refinement and experimentation steered Expeditionary Learning towards engineering, its philosophies and its actions. Engineers are models of learners for life. Their example invites all learners to approach problems from their own starting points, carve their own paths, and present multiple solutions. In other words, it allows students to develop flexible responses to problems and creates learning spaces and activities that allow for the seamless inclusion of all learners. In this study, Expeditionary Learning is framed by engineering, inclusion, and adventure. This is a study of the actions, thinking and learning of students and teachers engaged in mathematical learning expeditions. The goal of this research was to explore the potential of Expeditionary Learning as an inclusive, student-led pedagogy for learning mathematics. Grounded in interpretive phenomenology, this qualitative research project involved gathering stories and interpreting the meanings teachers and learners attached to their experiences. Analysis and synthesis of the individual stories will contribute to the development of a more global picture of what Expeditionary Learning has to offer to teaching and learning mathematics in inclusive settings.