Inquiry and Research Process

Learning through Inquiry and Research Processes

I had an intriguing talk with a group of educators during the summer. “What if the librarians already have a district-approved research process?” a technology consultant asked after spending several days considering strategies to foster student inquiry. Is there a contradiction between what we’re doing?” As I studied her query, I realized there was a fundamental flaw: inquiry and investigation had become interchangeable terms.

Instead of responding to her question, I asked, “Can students conduct research without conducting an inquiry, or inquiry without conducting a formal research process?”

Active Learning through the Research Process

Our school librarian introduced me to the Kentucky Virtual Library research procedure over ten years ago. The approach gives students clear stages to help their planning, searching, note-taking, and writing using a game board as an interface. Our pupils were assisted in finding, identifying, and evaluating material by the clearly described processes, logical progression, and embedded methodologies. Even though it was designed for primary pupils, it provided a clear route for our middle school students as well. 

While this research method aids students in finding and evaluating material on any subject, it does not guarantee that they will have the chance to raise questions, analyze difficulties, or draw connections to their personal experiences. Students must engage in active learning by forming their driving questions, finding solutions, and examining complicated issues, as defined by inquiry. The process of seeking answers is addressed by research, which is typically a component of inquiry. Inquiry and Research play important role separately in answering the inquisitive and unknown aspects of a student’s desire to know new things.

This paradox was recently explored by an instructor and me. She mentioned that the students will investigate a specific species in her next animal adaptation course. To fill in a specified outline, they would gather information on the animal’s appearance, habitat, and so on.

Though the instructor offered good scaffolding for her pupils to hunt up material from numerous sources, express their results, and document their learning, inquiry implies that the students posed the questions. We discussed what may happen if we asked them a provocative question such as, “Why do certain animals from all across the globe appear the same while others seem very different?” Students would still do research, but they would also be required to define the term and then apply their definition.

When we asked our fourth graders this topic as part of their study of African animals, they spun it across the globe. They began their inquiry by comparing the physical attributes of various creatures in comparable environments, but they swiftly moved on to asking questions on a global scale. What attributes do animals in the same environment share, other than physical characteristics? Do creatures from the same biome that live on separate continents share comparable characteristics? Why are certain species found on several continents while others are only found in one place?

Anthony Egbers and Kerryn White of South Africa are other fantastic examples of scaffolded inquiry that I’ve lately observed. They created a worksheet with Book Creator to help their pupils learn about the Cradle of Humankind. Unlike the Kentucky Virtual Library, their research approach focuses as much on the students’ questions as it does on the content they uncover and analyze.

Three Options For Promoting Inquiry

We discussed three ways for stimulating student curiosity in the session that prompted this debate. First, we looked at how observable thinking routines were used. Students’ inquiry and reflection are scaffolded through these question sets, such as See Think Wonder and Think Puzzle Explore, so they may think deeply about both subject and context. Students sometimes want structure before they may begin asking questions.

We next explored the power of an important inquiry rather than centering a research study on a subject or notion. Inquiry and Research play different roles for quenching the inquisitiveness of the students. Both Inquiry and Research can be sepeately incorporated for learning. Essential questions, according to Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, do not lead to a single solution but rather act as a catalyst for conversation, necessitate higher-order thinking abilities such as inference and judgment, and generate new questions (that lead to even more inquiry).

Finally, inquiry should pique students’ interest and awe. Grant Lichtman examines the relevance of “what if?” questions in his book The Falconer. “What if the sun rose in the West and set in the East?” he wonders as an example. While the first impulse might be to say that it doesn’t, what if it does? What exactly does that imply? What else could happen? Teachers loosen any restrictions on how pupils can answer by asking such questions. Min Basadur, a world-renowned entrepreneur, advises phrasing inquiries using the phrase “How may we ?” He claims that questions stem-like these encourage creative thinking and remove judgment from perceived responses.

This takes us back to our initial question: Can research and inquiry coexist? Take a look at the power of a scientific lab. Students ask questions, establish hypotheses, research their theories, and then use their observations to get a better understanding of their findings. Students may use apps like Desmos and Geogebra to engage in math exploration. They may ask questions about mathematical ideas, experiment with simulations and situations, and change formulae as they investigate complicated phenomena that could not be addressed through active, hands-on learning earlier.

For more Education related articles, you may also like; Maintaining Students’ Motivation For Learning As Year Passes

While research may undoubtedly be stand-alone, inquiry should eventually lead students to consider research as a way of discovering new ideas, answering new questions, and grappling with difficult challenges.

About the article

Inquiry is a method of learning that entails a process of examining the natural or material world, which leads to the generation of questions, the creation of findings, and the testing of those discoveries in the pursuit of new knowledge. In this article, we discussed the inquiry and research process.

Carter Martin

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