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The Inquiry question and action plan

You’ve had a bit of time to understand your workplace and get to know your mentor and learners, so you should now be starting to think about your inquiry. What’s the next step?

After gaining an understanding of your workplace and getting to know your mentor and learners, the next steps in the inquiry process are

  1. defining an inquiry question; and 
  2. developing an action plan. 

These two steps are closely linked and form the basis of a successful inquiry. If they are carefully considered, then your teaching, learning, assessment and adjustments will be mapped out, making your teaching more organised and effective.

The inquiry question and action plan should also work together. For example, when you write your action plan, you might find it hard to assess all the learning if your inquiry question is too broad. As with the rest of your inquiry, if you want help defining or improving your inquiry question and action plan, your first point of call should be your mentor or an experienced colleague.

The inquiry question

Now that you have a better understanding of your learners as well as their learning levels and challenges, you are in a position to decide what you would like them to achieve. 

Questions that might help you make that decision

  • Is there a specific skill you would like your learners to improve?
  • Is there an existing school / service learning focus or philosophy that could form the basis of your inquiry question?
  • Have you identified a specific need for your learners that you want to focus on?

Key considerations when forming your inquiry question

  • Is it manageable in the timeframe you have?
  • Can you assess the learning you expect to occur?
  • Are the learning goals appropriate for your selected learners?
  • Does your inquiry question help you target the professional learning you will undertake?

VIT has a SMART tool that might be useful for helping to formulate your inquiry question.

The Action Plan

Your action plan is the natural follow on from your inquiry question, and it brings together all the elements of the inquiry. It is where your professional learning and discussions are applied to through your teaching, and describes how you assess learning and then reflect on that learning.

Sometimes an action plan can show you that your inquiry question needs refining. For example if you are struggling with what assessment tasks to put in your action plan, then it may be that your inquiry question is not specific about what is being assessed.

In bringing together the stages of the inquiry, your action plan will contain

  • what you know about your learners, taking into account factors that affect their learning 
  • what you want your learners to learn
  • what professional learning you need to undertake
  • how you will create a safe learning environment that enables every learner to participate
  • what you expect the learners to achieve by the end of the program, how you will assess new knowledge and how this will be communicated or reported.

To assist you, VIT has examples of what an action plan might look like.

It is important to work with your mentor on your action plan, as they can help you with resources and assist you to develop teaching activities, strategies and assessment tasks.

Remember this is only a snapshot of part of the inquiry process, you can find more detailed assistance in completing your inquiry in the Supporting Provisionally Registered Teachers Guide, including a template you can use to record your evidence.

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