Stage 2: Defining and responding
This is all about making connections – categorising, comparing and compiling information. Students create a solid starting point for their enquiry and make a plan to research it further.
What the teacher does
The teacher’s role is crucial at this stage. If students have identified things they are interested in and would like to know more about, the teacher has the job of making sure that students can advance their enquires in meaningful ways.
This will require teachers to assess their own existing knowledge and understanding of the topic, undertake some preliminary research to identify important questions, and locate resources, such as experts, information and methods of testing ideas, that may be useful for students.
Using the teacher’s expertise
The teacher isn’t doing the work for the students. Instead, teachers are using their knowledge and expertise in learning to help the students carry out the enquiry. A teacher can encourage students to pursue their interests by asking questions such as:
- What can you find out quickly?
- What is left unanswered?
- What direction do you want to go?
- What aspects are most interesting?
- What are the key areas?
- Are there different perspectives?
- Who might be able to help you or who might think differently about this?
Encourage students to find out everything they can on a topic, to categorise and differentiate the information they’ve got and then to come up with further questions.
Some of the things teachers and students might do at this stage
- find out what’s already known about the problem or area of interest
- evaluate information and resources in existence
- identify who and what can help understand the issue/problem
- test out existing ideas/solutions and develop new ones
- clarify gaps in knowledge and opportunities for action
- conduct empirical research to inform strategy
- reflect on progress and plan the next stage.
Next stage: Doing and making