Welcome to the second issue of Enquiry.
Here at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) we are all in agreement that the empowerment of students through enquiry-based learning is a good thing. Through this process the students learning outcomes are more focused towards their own needs, enabling the expansion of research interests through the support of both supervisors and peers alike. As a result it is not surprising that The Faculty of Arts, Engineering, Computing and Sciences (ACES) are now pushing more than ever to encourage active and collaborative engagement in meaningful problems and real world issues.
One way in which this is being achieved is through the delivery of this journal which show cases some of the best self-directed undergraduate work at SHU. Self-directed learning enables students to develop the skills required for postgraduate study and later provide insightful contributions to larger research projects and papers. This more flexible studying approach has many advantages such as enhancing employability, preparing students for postgraduate study and most importantly providing a more enjoyable experience by allowing students to focus on their own interests.
The advantages of enquiry-based learning were made most evident to me during my final year project whereby a number of works from previous papers were used to support an evolution of principles and ideas. During discussions with various members of the teaching staff it became clear that this process not only enables students to further their understanding of specific interests, but also introduces a student presence into respective industries and professional groups. At SHU this exposure to industry professionalism is encouraged through out the course modules from which students are required to find sources for topics of interest to support their own theories, whilst providing a unique experience for each student this process also gives the student an opportunity to publish their views in journals such as this.
When carrying out enquiry-based learning the tutor begins by posing a question rather than the traditional statement or instruction, the methods used to answer the question are then explored by the student who eventually proposes a unique set of methods for assessment. Comparably, in industry a stakeholder or client will often propose a similar question to be solved through study. Whether it be carrying out background research for core decisions, investigating possible new developments, proposing solutions for high-risk problem solving or simply supporting field work, it cannot be overlooked that the ability to openly learn and investigate a problem domain is a skill that is not only important for further education but also in preparation for employment.