Tool PDE-1: The inquiry cycle

For this tool you will need the following resources:

  • PDE-1 PowerPoint
  • Handout 1: The inquiry cycle

30minThe aim of this tool is to help the group develop a better understanding of the teacher inquiry cycle and howdownload_powerpoint they can use their own specific research questions within the cycle to develop their classroom practice. The group will discuss the approach used and develop some possible research questions to explore when using Mascil tools within a cycle of teacher inquiry.

classdownload_handoutProvide the teachers with copies of Handout 1: The inquiry cycle. Discuss how this general approach will be used in their work together as they use different tools to explore issues and professional questions.

teacher inquiry cycle v2

smallgroupAsk the teachers to work in small groups and consider the following example to see how this approach can be implemented. Can they make some suggestions of alternative research questions to explore in the classroom?


A group may want to explore working with different degrees of structuring of mathematics tasks, focusing on the ISSUE: IBL in mathematics, with the PROFESSIONAL QUESTION: What do inquiry tasks look like in mathematics? Within this work they may use the Tool IE-2: Comparing structured and unstructured tasks and decide to use a structured and an unstructured version of the same task in their classrooms to explore their own research question such as ‘What effect does structure have on student learning?’

classBring the group together and compare ideas.

Ask them to think about two or three of their suggested research questions and consider:

  • How will a common plan of action be developed? Will all teachers use the same tasks? Will they use different tasks?
  • What ‘data’ will members of the group collect?

(By ‘data’ here we are referring mainly to qualitative data such as student work, an account of the lesson, photographs of the lesson and so on).

Explain how important it is that when a group next meet, after exploring a research question in the classroom, then all members of the group should be able to describe what happened and what worked. It is reflection on these outcomes that is central to the group’s professional learning: considering implications for their teaching practice is perhaps the most important part of the cycle. Each group meeting needs to be planned with sufficient time for this.

nextstepsThe group should now consider their own focus for professional development and the research questions that will be appropriate. You may have already agreed on which tools you want to use initially. Encourage each member of the group to think about one of the tools and, before next time, write down a research question with a brief plan for the data collection that the group could use. Be ready to share these when the tool is used with the group.