Toolbox | Trousse

Inquiry process | Le processus d'enqête

What is an inquiry? | Qu’est-ce qu’une enquête ?

An inquiry is a process of asking a question (or a series of questions) and seeking information. It is an approach to learning whereby students investigate, explore, search and study to construct understanding though problem solving and reflection. It is a process of addressing issues, problems or topics expressed by guiding questions. The inquiry process provides students with opportunities to take an active role in managing their own learning as they develop many skills and strategies needed to make informed decisions as active citizens.


  • pose questions and explore ways to answer them

  • locate and manage information from various sources

  • process, analyze and synthesize their findings

  • share their findings on an ongoing basis, supporting each other in their research

  • transfer new information, skills and knowledge to solve problems and make decisions

  • identify avenues for action and application to incorporate their understandings in different contexts and situations

  • reflect on and celebrate their inquiry findings

Adapted from: Getting Started with Student Inquiry, October 2011 Capacity Building Series produced by the Literacy and Numeracy

Inquiry learning is not a step-by-step process but rather a recursive process, with phases of the process being revisited and re-thought as a result of students’ discoveries, insights and co-construction of new knowledge.

Focus| Cibler l’objectif

During this phase, students engage in setting up their inquiry. Students select a focus, a question (or questions) or a topic of interest. They collaborate with other learners to talk about their personal connections and prior knowledge to elicit predictions and hypotheses and to share their thinking and questions.

Explore | Explorer

During this phase, students gather and work with a variety of resources from a range of sources. Students clarify and extend their question(s) based on their research and investigations. They collaborate with other learners to communicate and share their findings and thinking.

Analyze | Analyzer

During this phase, students use a variety of strategies to process and interpret their findings. They focus on analyzing, summarizing, and synthesizing the information. Students organize ideas, sort data, answer questions, test hypotheses, identify patterns and draw conclusions. They collaborate with other learners to talk about their new learning, to explain their understanding of concepts and to assess and/or adjust their research, investigation or problem solving strategies.

Share learning | Partager l'apprentissage

During this phase, students share their discoveries of new knowledge and extend their knowledge through the transfer of their learning and skills. They communicate their understanding of procedures, concepts, theories, and the content of their inquiry and teach it to others through a variety of representations. Students participate in discussions, talk about connections made between their prior knowledge and their new discoveries, evaluate their own progress and reflect on their inquiry process. Students make decisions and take actions based on their findings and apply these to real-life contexts beyond the classroom to solve problems.

Reflection and Feedback | La réflexion et la rétroaction

Reflection and feedback occur throughout each phase of the inquiry process. Students actively observe and analyze their own learning experience. They reflect on what they have learned and on how they learn. Students welcome and convey feedback to become more effective learners.