Preparing Teacher-Scholars to Inquire: Constructing the Inquiry Processing Cycle

Preparing Teacher-Scholars to Inquire: Constructing the Inquiry Processing Cycle

Erik Jon Byker (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA), Heather Coffey (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA), Susan B. Harden (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA), Amy J. Good (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA) and Katie E. Brown (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1067-3.ch012


Whether it is in the sciences or humanities, inquiry is a valued pedagogy for teaching and learning. Teacher candidates often enter into their teacher preparations programs with limited experience and understanding of the process of inquiry. The chapter's purpose is to introduce and discuss the Inquiry Processing Cycle, which is a theoretical model for engaging in inquiry. The chapter explains how the Inquiry Processing Cycle emerged from Grounded Theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) from an on-going qualitative study of first-year undergraduate students (n=110) in a College of Education first-year class called Prepared for Success. The study found that the participants perceived that the process of inquiry was a fundamental part of being a successful college student as well as being an effective teacher. Yet, the participants were unclear about how to actually proceed with an inquiry. From these findings, the chapter illustrates how to engage in the inquiry process using the Inquiry Processing Cycle.
Chapter Preview


Inquiry, as a strategy for the development of critical thinking skills and research skills, goes beyond just teacher education. Inquiry is a much-emphasized pedagogy and popular terminology among the current academe. Two decades ago, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching convened a commission to develop guidelines for improving undergraduate education at research universities. The Boyer Commission (1999), as the commission came to be known, issued a report featuring ten recommendations for research universities to transform their baccalaureate programs for the 21st century. The Boyer Commission underscored the role of inquiry in developing undergraduates who are critically engaged with content.

The first two recommendations from the Boyer Commission dealt explicitly with inquiry. The commission’s recommendations stated that:

  • 1.

    Research-based learning should be the standard throughout the undergraduate program, and

  • 2.

    That the first-year curriculum should be constructed and centered on the use of inquiry-based pedagogies.

Using a democratic metaphor, the Boyer Commission (1999) also asserted that all university students are entitled to an Academic Bill of Rights (p. 12). The university student’s Academic Bill of Rights rests on four pillars:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Constructivist: The belief that knowledge is constructed and given meaning to by people.

Academic Bill of Rights: The four rights that the Boyer Commission stated that every university student is entitled to receiving at the university. These rights include: (1) Inquiry-based learning; (2) The development of coherent and reasoned communication; (3) Appreciation of the arts, humanities, and sciences; and (4) A comprehensive preparation for the future.

Curiosity: The free expression of interest and intrigue in something. It is at the core of inquiry.

Action Component: One of six features in the Inquiry Processing Cycle. It requires the learner to take action in order to complete that part of the cycle.

Collaboration: The act of sharing ideas with another person or group of people.

Inquiry Processing Cycle: The cyclical process of conducting an inquiry.

Inquiry: A knowledge quest that is centered on deep questions.

Boyer Commission: A special commission that was convened by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching with the mission to make recommendations to improve undergraduate education in the United States.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: