Inquiry, Agency, and Engagement: All in One Package

Educators are always looking for ways to increase engagement and agency for their students. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through inquiry learning. Lee et al. (2004) defined inquiry-based learning as an “array of classroom practices that promote student learning through guided and, increasingly, independent investigation of complex questions and problems, often for which there is no single answer” (p. 9). Source

The C3 Framework has long championed the Inquiry Arc. This model was designed to spark curiosity and questioning while also empowering students to have agency in the process. Universal Constructs and 21st Century Skills are foundational pieces of the process. Students work on developing deep and relevant questions, discover new learning collaboratively while  identifying valid sources of information, and communicate new learning. The process is structured and content organized by the classroom facilitator, but the driving questions, research and discovery of knowledge, is led by students. It is engaging and relevant to students since they are actively working to answer the questions they have, not just memorizing random facts chosen by a textbook publisher. 

Trevor MacKenzie has written multiple books about Inquiry and how to weave this into your classroom. This post by Tevor outlines a “Planning with Learner Curiosity in Mind” flowchart. One of the challenges of inquiry is the undefined questions that students may come up with. This simple flowchart helps teachers work through the process and helps to reduce random questions and distractions. More often, these random questions spark genuine curiosity about content being pursued and generate more engaged students. 

If you would like to learn more about Inquiry, Active Learning, and Learner Agency, please reach out to Keith Halverson, Central Rivers AEA Consultant.