Inquiry Visualisation

As mentioned in my previous post, the same time I sketched up the eportfolio graphs to visualise my thinking, I also played around with seeing what inquiry learning may look like.

The first graph tries to recognise the change of the inquiry process ownership over time. The younger the student the more teacher directed, transitioning into a guided approach where the teacher closely supports and guides the inquiry. Finishing the process off is the the ultimate goal of students being in complete control of their inquiry and the teacher monitoring and facilitating the process.


The graph doesn’t really cut the mustard for me. Too many what ifs and open to interpretation from teachers and or models of inquiry. So I decided to take a different tack with the next graph looking more at an individual student and what the process may look like from start to finish:


In a purist form of inquiry the initiation or purpose of the inquiry comes from the student. A question, a curiosity, something that interests, engages and motivates the students to learn. The teacher then questions, listens, provides support and feedback directing and encouraging the student as they investigate, research and experiment. The student then takes control as they continue through their inquiry.

Again the visualisation here does not really work. It suggest that the teacher only conferences or has a checkpoint once with a student in their learning process which would be a bit of a worry. So onto the the next version:


I am quite happy with this representation. Again the inquiry is initiated by the student, and ongoing interaction with the teacher is shown as the progress dips into the “Zone of Co-construction” as the student and teacher check in with each other for further guidance, feedback, questioning. The end of the inquiry finishes with a bit of a flourish, some kind of action by the student as a result of their new knowledge.

This represents a reasonably capable student and also a teacher willing to let go and not be in control, acting as a guide for the student’s learning. Every student is different of course and even different inquiry contexts can alter what the process looks like. The graph above is also not exclusive to inquiry. It could just as easily be a literacy based project, art or virtually any other learning scenario.

Thoughts? How would you visualise the process of inquiry? The process of facilitating learning?

Interestingly, the term “Zone of Co-construction” seems to be unique, googling it returns zero hits. Maybe I should trademark it?

5 thoughts on “Inquiry Visualisation”

  1. hi Nick. Nice graphs 🙂 Your “Zone of co-construction” reminds me very much of Carol Kuhlthau’s “Zone of intervention”, a concept or stage she has identified within a guided inquiry approach to learning, where students may be beset with uncertainties (that sounds bad, doesn’t it? but I’m paraphrasing here) and need extra guidance from a teacher/librarian/helper to set them going again. Hers is based in turn on Vygotsky’s ZPD, I believe.

  2. Hi Nick
    Thanks for sharing. I was taken back slightly by the first graph you have here. Having spent 14 years in early childhood education and witnessing 4 year olds engage in inquiry learning with little to no support from teachers the level of inquiry linked to age groups didn’t sit with me. However, in saying that I do like Graph 3 you have here. I like the term you have here “Zone of Co-construction”. Look forward to hearing more of your musings and checking out your iPhone blog posts 😀

  3. @Miriam
    Thanks for the comment. Will have to look up the ‘zone of intervention’ although the word intervention carries a few connotations with it some of them negative… but always good to see a new perspective. Especially of course when it is all about improving student outcomes.

  4. @Naketa
    Hi Naketa, yes, as I mentioned the first graph was a starting point only and is open for interpretation as you have indicated. What the graphs fail to do is unpack the way the inquiry can progressively build on previous learning so that the expectations of what inquiry looks like for students as the move up through school is constantly changing and challenging for students. They also do not flesh out how one teacher may view independence in an entirely different way to another, and how different teachers have a different picture of what inquiry looks like in the classroom.
    I know from my experience as a new entrant teacher that there are 5 year olds who can independently inquire, however as a teacher you need to constantly prompt, guide and push students so they are always achieving their best. If I do that, is it still student directed or has it become teacher directed?

  5. Maybe Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development is another way of describing the zone of co-construction in your diagram. Love your Inquiry Journey #2.

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