Designing an Inquiry Plan

The most important feature of any plan for a classroom inquiry is that it is achieveable. Too often and too easily faculty set off with grand plans and complicated evidence-gathering ideas only to feel overwhelmed early on. When designing an inquiry plan, either alone or in the context of a faculty inquiry group, consider the five following ideas:

  1. Focus first on evidence that you can gather from the course of your own teaching and everyday practice.

  2. Often, the best inquiry plan centers on being intentional with work you’re already doing. If your inquiry plan involves going outside the boundaries of your teaching–collecting video think aloud data for example–then find collaborators.

  3. Although you may have many questions about student learning, and want to focus on many aspects of a target course, stay focused on a single important issue of student learning. Everything seems important when you’re swimming in the middle of your own teaching.

  4. An important feature of any inquiry plan is the clarity of the question and match between the question and the evidence.

  5. Expect that your plan will change. Be open to surprises that will lead you in different directions.

Erich Holtman (Los Medanos) discusses how an inquiry plan arose out of a Faculty Inquiry Group. (Click to go to page and video)

REFLECTION PROMPT: How would you describe your inquiry plan to a colleague? What aspect of your plan are you least sure about?

Navigate to other pages in the Faculty Inquiry Cycle:

August 20, 2008