Friday, June 20, 2014

Why inquiry isn't cyclical

I just watched a fabulous video that summarises a lot of key ideas about inquiry. Although this is specific to scientific inquiry, I think the lessons are transferable to all other areas of inquiry.

What I like most about this video is the analogy of the cycle of inquiry being similar to a game of pinball. You do not progress through an inquiry in a linear manner. Instead you revisit, revise and retest ideas, questions and theories. The visual design of many inquiry cycles has lead to these sorts of questions being posted in social media forums:

In fact, last year Kath blogged about her own inquiry cycle in order to bust some myths relating to it.
The visual produced in the video includes some nice animation that hasn't been captured on the screen shot. Essentially its the grey arrows that play such a big role in this model. They rotate back and forth, in and out of the green circle. It aides to highlight the notion that when we inquire into something we're continually gathering and interpreting data, analysing outcomes, gathering feedback, exploring and discovering.
Perhaps the title of this post is a little misleading. There is still a cyclical process involved with inquiry, but it is important for us to remember that no inquiry (or writing) cycle was designed to be a linear, hierarchical process. It's messy, unpredictable and continuous. Check out the video for a more detailed explanation and some links to further reading.


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