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The Inquiry Cycle

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

According to the IB, “Inquiry, interpreted in the broadest sense, is the process initiated by the students or the teacher that moves the students from their current level of understanding to a new and deeper level of understanding.” (International Baccalaureate, 2009) This idea of “movement” is often seen as a cycle, as students progress through different phases, whether asking questions, researching big ideas, consolidating understanding or taking action from what they have learned. The inquiry cycle that we utilize at Shu Ren is based on the research by Kath Murdoch ( and includes the following stages:

Tuning In - What do you know about the topic? What do I want to know? What are you feeling?

Finding Out - What resources might you use to find out more? What can I do to learn more?

Sorting Out - How is this connected to what you already know? What new questions do you have?

Going Further - Have you considered the different viewpoints? How will you share what you have learned?

Making Conclusions - Did you answer all your questions? What are you going to do with what you have learned?

Taking Action - How can what you have learned help you or others in their life? How can you improve your learning?

The benefits of using the inquiry cycle in our setting is that it strengthens the current framework we have in place. It also allows the students to connect learning in both Chinese and English. Using the inquiry cycle can also increase enthusiasm in students, as gives them ownership of their learning by encouraging them to ask difficult questions and teaching the techniques necessary for them to find the answer. (

Next time, rather than asking how your child’s day was or what they learned at school, ask them ‘What stage of inquiry are you working on right now?’ and follow up with some of the questions mentioned above. You might be surprised at some of your child’s responses. Don’t forget, the next time you visit your child’s classroom be sure to look out for the stages of inquiry and the examples of work that support each phase.