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Teaching as inquiry

The teaching as inquiry cycle described in The New Zealand Curriculum (p. 35) recognises that teaching is too complex an activity to be reduced to a formula or a fail-safe methodology.

Knowing our students is as important as knowing our subject.

Based on this knowledge, we establish priorities, try an approach, assess how effective it is, and make whatever changes are required. As teachers, we are also always learners.

NZC - Teaching as inquiry diagram.

Teaching as inquiry diagram

If you cannot view or read this diagram, select this link to open a text version.

Teaching as inquiry involves three key questions or inquiries.

The focusing inquiry

This inquiry determines direction. It establishes priorities, based on community expectations and the learning needs, interests, and experiences of students. The teacher asks:

  • What do I know about the prior knowledge, goals and aspirations, learning strengths and needs of my students?
  • What is important and worth spending time on, given where my students are at?

The teaching inquiry

This inquiry identifies strategies that will assist students to achieve selected outcomes and forms the basis of teaching activities (learning experiences) for students. The teacher asks:

  • Given the priorities established in the focusing inquiry, what strategies are most likely to be effective?

The learning inquiry

This inquiry evaluates the impact of teacher actions on student outcomes, based on quality evidence. The teacher asks:

  • What happened as a result of my teaching?
  • What are the implications for future teaching?
  • Is there something I need to change?
  • How can I interest students who did not engage?
  • Where can I look for alternative strategies?
  • What are the next steps for my students’ learning?
  • Do my priorities need changing or refining?
  • Do I need to revisit earlier learning in a new context?
  • What context will best help my students explore the big ideas?

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Last updated February 17, 2017