Herron's Model

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Herron developed a model which classified inquiries on a scale of 0 (Confirmation/Verification) to 3 (Open Inquiry) depending on how much teacher structure is supplied and whether there is an already existing solution to the problem or question. I like this model because it ties in with my beliefs about the need for scaffolded/guided inquiry when students (of any age) are new to inquiry.

The following table is adapted from one on: http://edweb.sdsu.edu/wip/four_levels.htm

Level of Inquiry Teacher supplied problem? Teacher prescribed procedure? Solution known in advance?
0 Confirmation/Verification P P P
1 Structured P P -
2 Guided P - -
3 Open - - -

Herron, M.D. (1971). The nature of scientific enquiry. School Review, 79(2), 171- 212.

Modified Herron's Model

I have made some modification to Herron's model (see table below). Firstly I have renumbered the levels as I feel that naming it 0 implies it is not inquiry. It is certainly very low-level inquiry but I believe it is still has a place at times. Secondly, I have restructured the table to make the desired outcome clearer i.e. ticks for student designed/owned elements rather than for teacher designed/owned elements.

I have changed the second level (Herron's level 1) to allow for either a student-generated question to which there is a pre-existing solution (not known to the students) or for an unknown solution to a teacher-generated question. This is because student-generated questions can often have pre-existing solutions. If we include among our definitions of inquiry: "Inquiry" is defined as "a seeking for truth, information, or knowledge - seeking information by questioning." (www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/inquiry/), "Inquiry is a systematic investigation or study into a worthy question, issue, problem or idea." (www.galileo.org/inquiry-what.html) and especially: “Through the process of inquiry, individuals construct much of their understanding of the natural and human-designed worlds.” (www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/inquiry/), then we must allow for that fact that some student-generated inquiries will have a pre-existing solution.

I have also changed the third level (Herron's level 2) to include either a student-generated problem or student- designed/selected procedure. This is because I feel that students are often able to generate their own problems before they are ready to independently design and/or select all the procedures they will use and that students.  I believe having an either/or situation more actually reflects what can happen in classrooms. I have renamed the final level Independent Inquiry as I feel this more accurately describes the level.

 

Level of Inquiry Problem is student-generated? Procedure student-designed/selected? Solution is not already existing/known?
1. Confirmation - - -
2. Structured Inquiry Either P - Or P
3. Guided Inquiry Either P Or P P
4. Independent Inquiry P P P

Table modified from http://edweb.sdsu.edu/wip/four_levels.htm

1. Confirmation - students answer a teacher-presented question through a prescribed procedure when the results are known in advance to the teacher but not necessarily the students.

2. Structured Inquiry - students investigate through a prescribed procedure and EITHER there is a teacher-presented question (usually open-ended)  but the answer is not known in advance and could vary from student to student OR there is a student-generated question where the results are known in advance to the teacher but not to the students.

3. Guided Inquiry - The solution is not already existing/known in advance and could vary from student to student. Students EITHER investigate a teacher-presented question (usually open-ended) using student designed/selected procedures OR investigate questions that are student formulated (usually open-ended) through a prescribed procedure (some parts of the procedure may be student designed/selected).

4. Independent Inquiry - students investigate questions that are student formulated (usually open-ended) through student designed/selected procedures. The solution is not known in advance and could vary from student to student. Ownership of all aspects of the inquiry belongs to the student.

Adapted from: Herron, M.D. (1971). The nature of scientific enquiry. School Review, 79(2), 171- 212.

  2007 Jan-Marie Kellow
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