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Teaching Science as Inquiry - Phases and Modes

Phases of Inquiry

Teaching Science as Inquiry encompasses cycles of both learning and instruction, represented by Phases, or stages, of inquiry. The five phases of the TSI model are initiation, invention, investigation, interpretation, and instruction. Initiation is a phase of originating interest or developing a focus for inquiry. This may come in the form of a student asking a question or a teacher posing a problem. The invention phase entails problem solving and information gathering, such as creating a testable hypothesis, designing an experiment, or troubleshooting a procedural step. Students engage in investigation as they gather new knowledge by carrying out tests or analyzing data. In the interpretation phase, information is interpreted through both a reflective, internal process and an objective, external process. Instruction is integral to each phase and includes communication from teacher to student, student to student, and student to teacher. The phases are represented in a circular model to promote fluidity between the phases.

<p>The Phase of Inquiry square-in-circle phase diagram lacks arrows and allows the five phases to connect with each other, illustrating the interconnected nature of scientific inquiry. The instruction phase encircles the other phases, emphasizing the role of communication in teaching and learning through inquiry.</p><br />


Modes of Inquiry

In addition to the phases of inquiry, the 10 Modes of Inquiry describe some of the different ways scientists practice inquiry, including curiosity, description, authoritative knowledge, experimentation, product evaluation, technology, replication, induction, deduction, and transitive knowledge. Whereas the phases define the stages of the inquiry cycle, the TSI modes describe the multiple approaches to knowledge generation and acquisition, which are important aspects of inquiry. The TSI modes of inquiry emphasize the many different ways of participating in the scientific process, In other words, the process of learning through inquiry is a minds-on, as opposed to an exclusively hands-on, endeavor. In addition, although some phases and modes seem to pair together more easily than others, such as the instruction phase corresponding to the authoritative knowledge mode, or the initiation phase corresponding to the curiosity mode, each mode can be employed in each phase.


The modes activity is a teacher led way to introduce the Teaching Science as Inquiry Modes of Inquiry using four short scenarios. 


The modes of inquiry


Inquiry learning through use of


Search for new knowledge...

Curiosity through informal or spontaneous probes into the unknown or predictable
Description through creation of accurate and adequate representation of things or events
Authoritative knowledge through discovery and evaluation of established knowledge via artifacts or expert testimony
Experimentation by testing predictions derived from hypotheses
Product evaluation about the capacity of products to meet valuing criteria
Technology through construction, production and testing of artifacts, systems, and techniques
Replication through duplication; testing the repeatability of something seen or described
Induction in data patterns and generalizable relationships—a hypothesis finding process
Deduction in logical synthesis of ideas and evidence—a hypothesis making process
Transitive knowledge in one field by applying knowledge from another field in a novel way


Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.