A framework for inquiry

On Monday at the Inquiry Hub, when students come to school this Points of Inquiry image is going to be in all classrooms and learning spaces.

The Points of Inquiry_ A Framework for Information Literacy and the 21st-Century LearnerHere is where the image comes from: The Points of Inquiry_ A Framework for Information Literacy and the 21st-Century Learner – BCTLA.

In year two at the iHub, we are getting students to dig into inquiry challenges right away. As teachers bounce from student to student we seem to be speaking in different terminology about the same things. This will be our attempt at some common language around what we do. How we Connect and Wonder, Investigate, Construct, Express, and Reflect can look very different, but at least we will know where students are (and where they need to focus) when we speak with them.

For example, students can get absorbed in Investigation or Construction, and forget that they also have to Express – to share what they have learned, to document their investigation. Or students can fail at accomplishing a goal and not take the time to Reflect and realize how much they gained and learned in the experience.

Using this common language will help guide us in our quest for truly inquiry-based learning experiences.


Taking apart a lawnmower engine, investigating electrolysis, and building a 3D model of the school in Google SketchUp.

Find more Inquiry Resources in this post.

[Cross-posted on David Truss :: Pair-a-Dimes for Your Thoughts]

About Dave Truss

A husband, a parent… An educator, a student… A thinker, a dreamer… An agent of change. ∞β Think Good Thoughts, Say Good Words, Do Good Deeds. Educational Blog: http://pairadimes.davidtruss.com Daily Blog: http://daily-ink.davidtruss.com Podcasts: http://podcasts.davidtruss.com
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13 Responses to A framework for inquiry

  1. Pingback: A framework for inquiry - David Truss :: Pair-a-dimes for Your Thoughts

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  4. whatedsaid says:

    This is the reply I left at Dave’s original post – Hi Dave, I’m not sure if the original Stripling model was presented as the points on a star or if this is your interpretation, but I like the idea of ‘inquiry points’ much more than the more common models of ‘inquiry cycles’. Inquiry can start at any of the points and bounce between them, rather than moving in a defined order. Too often in (so called) inquiry learning contexts, teaching and learning follow a prescribed order, as per one or another inquiry model…
    Inquiry tends to be more messy than that! What do others think?


    • Nina says:

      I think this framework pretty much follows Kolb’s experiental learning cycle, so I agree with the previous comment, and tend to think how some inquiry starts simply by stumbling upon something we find interesting – just because we all have so limited knowledge (and the more I learn the more I understand how shallow my knowledge is — but I think this happens to most doctoral students, yes?). On the same note, I tend to dislike pure inductive reasoning just because our experiences, knowledge and preferences always guide the inquiry, and makes us see what we want to see. (WYSIWYG in IT has a double meaning: What You See IS What You Get also works on making us interpret our observations in the favour of our predictions.) Inquiry IS messy, and the better aware we are of our own filters, the better results we get.


  5. Dave Truss says:

    Excellent points. To expand on what Edna said about inquiry starting at any of the points, it is also true that inquiry involves jumping from point-to-point, rather than cycling through them. Construction can lead to Wonder, Reflection to further Investigation, and so forth. I’m working on a post on FAILURE right now… another vital part of inquiry because like Nina, I agree that our knowledge is very limited, which invites failure. If we aren’t failing, then we can’t be choosing challenging enough things to inquire about.


  6. whatedsaid says:

    At workshop i went to, each group explored different inquiry models and selected one as a basis for their own inquiry. The reflections were interesting. Participants realised that inquiry is not a linear process, and rarely even a cyclical one. The process moves back and forth between wondering, investigating, reflecting, connecting, constructing meaning, creating… Some groups found they were even shifting between more than one ‘model’. This is true inquiry. It has no map, no set pattern and it can be messy.!


  7. Moira Ekdahl says:

    Hi Dave and readers:

    This model is based on Stripling’s six points but the visual is ours. In conversation with Barbara, she has wholly endorsed our conceptualization. She separates Connect and Wonder, but our writing group envisioned these as deeply interconnected. The model is clear: inquiry is neither linear or circular. The term used is recursive … It is a messy and uncomfortable process that enables multiple points of entry, any number of opportunities to reflect within that process, and encouragement to go back to reframe a question, find more data, more detailed information, or more authentic sources, include additional perspectives, adjust the presentation tool to the findings, and so on. It should empower learning by building strong concepts of and opportunities to experience “the flow” — interrupted, driven by a need to know and to show, but compelling — for meaningful and authentic learning. We hope that every student in BC gets the same learning opportunities as your students will have, particularly by being able to work with teacher-librarians whose training and experience in designing inquiry — not simple linear research to retrieve information or to search for right answers to create posters, for example — is so much a part of their practice.

    Nice to see this, and thank you on behalf of our Points of Inquiry construction team. This model was “grown” collaboratively over a four year process that married various inquiry models (it is Kulthau who addresses the affective domain, for example) to an array of “enabling documents,” including performance standards, IRP process and skill goals, technology and other international documents of note, and so on.

    Moira Ekdahl, BCTLA Liaison Chair
    Vancouver TL, John Oliver Learning Commons


  8. Dave Truss says:

    Greetings Moira,
    I remember meeting you on my visit to John Oliver. ‘Recursive’ is indeed an ideal term and I think that really helps to make the learning authentic. Thanks for your work on the Points of Inquiry document, and for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment which adds context to this post!
    I love that both you and Edna bring out the ‘messy’, non-linear, non-circular, (and may I add non-spiral) nature of inquiry learning.
    Dave @datruss


  9. Moira Ekdahl says:

    Yes, non–spiral! “Uncomfortable” is good aspect to recognize too … it is simply a lot easier for students to find the answers and do what the teacher tells them to do, find what the task sets out for them and present the answers in the prescribed format.

    As a BCTF-trained facilitator of Teacher Inquiry, we encourage our colleagues to engage in the inquiry process and to trust it … it is wonderful to see teachers grappling with what we are asking students to do: using reflective practice throughout the process, frame good and meaningful questions that are drawn from, that connect to, your work; implement some investigative practices, such as classroom innovations and/or deeper reading; collaboratively construct an account of what you have done and what you have found; share it. We ask that teachers trust the process as they grapple with uncertainty and the lack of constraints (how long does it have to be? does it need to be an essay or a poster? etc.) We tell teachers that it’s the time in between “the points” or meetings that counts the most, the work they do by themselves to tackle their own part of the overarching question they share. Yep, it is good for teachers too; it is considered the very best professional development. You are right: not a spiral at all.


  10. mirandarose14 says:

    I love the inquiry points model. So often teachers and students get hung up on the order of the stages of inquiry as suggested by other models. Granted, some teachers, new to the approach might need an in between , a more linear representation, as a starting point. I know I have used circular arrows, reversing and crossing arrows, tornadoes, pie shaped diagrams and even snowflakes to represent inquiry models visually in an attempt to move away from the linear model but I really think this star has them all beat! It so clearly shows the connection of the different elements (notice, not using ‘stages’ as this implies linearity) and the fact that there isn’t a determined starting point. Thanks for sharing!


  11. Dave Truss says:

    Thought I would share how we expanded on the Points of Inquiry in a working session with Inquiry Hub students: http://twitter.com/InquiryHub/status/382559050660978688/photo/1


  12. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and amusing, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that too few people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I came across this during my search for something concerning this.


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