Background Inquiry frameworks

In the previous evaluation ERO found that inquiry typically took two forms - teaching and learning inquiry,[4] and professional learning inquiry.[5] In this section we report on the features of each of these inquiry frameworks, and broadly on how schools were using these. In later sections we report on the findings in relation to school-level support and guidance, and the practices teachers used in their classrooms.

In the most effective schools, teaching and learning inquiry, and professional learning inquiry were happening at the same time. Overall, however, much more teaching and learning inquiry was happening than professional learning focused inquiry.

Teaching and learning inquiry

The primary purpose of teaching and learning inquiry, as described in The New Zealand Curriculum, is to bring about improved outcomes for students through a cyclical process that is guided by the following questions:

  1. What should students achieve? Where are our students in relation to these goals and priorities? What do students need to learn next? (focusing inquiry)
  2. Which strategies, interventions or programmes will support students to achieve these outcomes? (teaching inquiry)
  3. What learning happened for students as a result of these strategies, interventions or programmes, and what will teachers do next to ensure that students continue to progress? (learning inquiry).

As Figure 1 [6] indicates, depending on the impact on student outcomes, some phases are given less emphasis and others are revisited on several occasions.

this graph shows the teaching-learning relationship. There are a series of boxes connected to each other by arrows. From top right they are, Teaching, Learning, Learning inquiry - what happened as a result of the teaching, and what are the implications for future teaching?, Focusing inquiry - what is important (and therefore worth spending time on) given where my students are at? and Teaching inquiry - what strategies (evidence-based) are most likely to help my students learn this?.  There is also a line connecting teaching inquiry and learning inquiry labelled is there something I need to change? and the line connnecting learning inquiry to focus inquiry labelled what are the next steps for learning?

A second and similar inquiry approach framework, which is closely aligned to the previous inquiry model, relates to building teachers’ capacities to respond appropriately to learners’ needs. [7] Leaders and teachers can use the framework to make astute assessments about the gaps in teachers’ practices and to identify future development areas for staff. Professional learning inquiry intentionally focuses teachers on the learning that will bring about improved outcomes for students. Any gaps and future development areas for teachers should be closely referenced to learners’ needs.

While this framework is not that different conceptually from the previous model, its inclusion in this report draws attention to the significant role which leaders can play in using inquiry for self review and school improvement.

Figure 2: Professional learning inquiry

This graph shows teacher inquiry and knowledge-building cycle to promote valued student outcomes. It is a circular graph with a continuous arrow connecting all the five boxes. The boxes are from top right What are our own learning needs - How have we contributed to exisiting outcomes? What do we already know that we can use to promote valued outcomes? What do we need to learn to do to promote valued outcomes? What sources of evidence/knowledge can we utilise. Box two is Design of tasks and experiences. Box three reads Teaching actions. Box four is What as been the impact of our changed actions? How effective has what we have learned and done been in promoting our students learning and well-being? and finally the fifth box reads What are our students learning needs? What do they already know? What sources of evidence have we used? What do they need to learn and do? How do we build on what they know?