Inquiry-based learning/Resolving an inquiry in 6 phases
An inquiry has six phases. This cycle may be conducted over a short term, even within one session, or over a longer term, for example the life of an project assignment. Phases may repeat and may run over several weeks depending on the complexity of the task:
Consider the inquiry, problem or task
To do this you need to discuss as a team:
- What are the facts?
- Are these really facts or are they assumptions team members are making, based on opinions?
- What are the critical questions?
In this phase you need to question your understanding of the meaning of words and concepts that are used in the inquiry presentation. These give valuable clues to the real meaning of the task. If you see any inconsistencies in the information presented these should be identified and discussed. You also need to identify what you already know that is relevant to the inquiry. Find the limits of existing knowledge within the group.
Problematisation: identify the issues and make an action plan
- Learning issues are everything that needs to be learned to resolve the inquiry. Questions and suggestions raised in phases a and b are the starting point for this phase. Focus on what needs to be known to resolve the inquiry and how this may be found. You may do this several times to clarify and find everything that is needed.
- Follow up the learning issues with an action plan. Each team member should follow up one or more of the learning issues, to report back to the team at the next workshop. This step is repeated each week until the inquiry is fully resolved.
Workshops typically start with each team member taking turns to teach the others the most important points from their follow-up from the action plan. The most important points are those that are most critical to the inquiry task. In this way, all relevant knowledge and ideas are shared by the team.
The cycles of identifying learning issues, finding sources or data, and peer teaching, help you to form a deeper understanding. Each time you need to review your existing knowledge to integrate it – bring it all together in a meaningful way. This should be done individually, and as a team. When the inquiry is nearly finished, knowledge integration by the team leads to the final step …
Resolution of the inquiry
At this point a presentation and/or report is prepared. The team members have identified all of the relevant information and data, and shared this among the members of the group. Preparing a presentation or a report provides a focus for knowledge integration, leading to a final resolution of the inquiry.