Home > Strategies and Skill Development > Conceptual Strategy Families > Inquiry

Inquiry comprises a set of strategies for formulating and answering questions that need to be answered in order to fully elaborate one's understanding of a subject. It includes strategies for generating research questions; for recognizing the relevance and importance of information, given a particular subject focus; and for determining whether information is sufficiently detailed to address the purpose. It also includes strategies for selecting and organizing material based upon the questions the material helps to answer. The hypothesized development of Inquiry skills is presented in Development Table 13.

This class of strategies corresponds to Writing Standard 7 from the Common Core State Standards.

Literature Note - Inquiry

Development Table 13. Hypotheses about the Development of Inquiry Skills

(oral to sentence)
Can explore a topic interactively through questions, discussion, and opportunistic reading, gradually building up a network of associations by learning an unstructured series of propositions in which a particular idea figures
Can use random walk strategies that explore a subject by collecting anything that seems related to it and going from one item of interest to the next, using social context and cues to select the next item to explore
Can report propositions about a topic that seem salient in social context, by either volunteering items that seem interesting or responding to questions
(sentence to paragraph)
Can consolidate knowledge about a subject into structured sets organized around major ontological categories and relationships relevant to the the topic
Can use collection strategies that identify the major ontological categories and relationships that structure a topic and use them as cues to to guide information-gathering
Can organize and present collected information about a topic under major ontological categories and relationships (e.g.,sequences of events, parts)
(paragraph to discourse)
Can consolidate knowledge about a subject by using questions/answer relationships to encode relationships between prior knowledge and new information
Can use collection strategies in which prior knowledge of the subject is used to generate focused questions and a structured series of follow-up inquiries, which are used in turn to decide what material/information to acquire and digest
Can organize and present collected information explicitly in terms of a faq-like question/answer structure
(text to context)
Can consolidate information about a subject, even if organized in incompatible ways, by recognizing how it is relevant to previously-understood research problems
Can use problem-solving strategies (including forward chaining, backward chaining, backtracking, and reconceptualization) to actively seek and evaluate information that is necessary to achieve a solution
Can organize and present collected information using an organic structure generated by considering the nature of the research problem
(text and context to discourse)
Can consolidate information about a subject relative to the disciplinary frame provided by a specific literature
Can use literature review strategies to identify significant research problems/questions and extract answers from sources

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