I still don’t understand, “What is inquiry?”

I still don’t understand, “What is inquiry?”

Inquiry is a way of teaching that allows students to build upon their prior understanding and experiences. Students are given the primary responsibility for constructing knowledge and understanding, developing new skills and revising their beliefs about how the world works, or should work. It’s highly engaging and student-centered.

That’s my definition, but it doesn’t really tell us much.

To muddy the waters even more, many people describe inquiry not as a set of specific strategies enacted by teachers, but as a disposition or stance. While this is true, explaining it in this way doesn’t help teachers with implementation. Following a “belief follows practice” approach is why we started with simulating and demonstrating inquiry followed by reflecting upon five key inquiry strategies modeled in these simulations and demos.

In the spirit of 'differentiation,' I also like to provide additional resources for further self-study. Here are some of my "go to's":

Organizations and Blogs:

Visible Thinking Harvard Project Zero http://www.visiblethinkingpz.org

Visible Learning


Galileo Educational Network http://galileo.org

Evidence-based Teaching Network http://www.ebtn.org.uk

Right Question Institute http://rightquestion.org

Inquiring Mind http://www.inquiringmind.co.nz

Critical Thinking Consortium


Inquire Within http://inquiryblog.wordpress.com

Wisdom Begins With Wonder http://trice25.edublogs.org



The Construction Zone http://theconstructionzone.wordpress.com

Wright’s Room http://shelleywright.wordpress.com


Eric Mazur’s Abridged 18-minute Confessions of a Converted Lecturer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwslBPj8GgI

Annenberg Learner “Minds of our Own” http://www.learner.org/resources/series26.html


Carol Kuhlthau’s Guided Inquiry Design

Alberta Learning’s Guide to Inquiry Learning

Postman & Weingartner’s Teaching As A Subversive Activity

Let’s keep adding to this list, shall we? Email me at kimberly@inquirypartners.com.