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What is collaborative inquiry?

Started by Tessa Gray 01 Jun 2016 10:45am () Replies (15)

By now, teachers in Aotearoa have become familiar with or are engaging in Teaching as Inquiry (NZC) - a process of reflection and action to improve outcomes for students. Some of us might also be more familiar with The six parts of the spiral of inquiry (Timperly, Kaser and Halbert , 2014). One of the important differences in this new approach is involving learners, their families, and communities in inquiries.

The shift in thinking here is; teacher reflection is not an isolated activity

Nick Rate has recently completed his professional inquiry paper, focused on Professional Collaborative Inquiry and Technology. In his blog post on, Collaborative Inquiry he writes,

The driving force for the inquiry was to support my belief that professional inquiry (aka teacher as inquiry in NZ), is significantly enhanced through a collaborative model where teachers and school leaders work alongside each other to share, discuss and analyse problems of practice and together, using their collective expertise, plan, implement and review a range of approaches to improve outcomes for their learners. Especially relevant too in schools adopting a team teaching/innovative learning environment approach.

And the kicker…

Problems of practice should be owned by the whole school, not by one teacher!

Makes sense. We’re not in this alone and as Hattie writes in, What works best in Education: The Politics of Collaborative Expertise

Task 7: There is a tremendous amount of consistency across education - each year, students face challenges similar to the students before them, and we have a wealth of knowledge about how to best address those challenges. Teachers should therefore be encouraged to use existing approaches and ideas that have already been proven to be successful with students. 

John Hattie talks about the collective role of collaborative action in schools (including parents/students)

Collaborative inquiry to raise student achievement will require:


  • An understanding of what collaboration looks like – beyond connecting, co-operating 
  • Knowing who we're collaborating with – teachers, students, parents/whānau
  • Having a clear purpose for collaboration – Is it One year input = one year progress?
  • Engaging in ongoing inquiry processes to:
    • collect and analyse data 
    • problem solve
    • develop theories of improvement
    • plan and set goals
    • make observations and give feedback
    • team teach
    • reflect and review
    • development and sharing of replicable approaches.

Adapted from Collaborative Inquiry, Nick Rate April 8, 2016

Have you or your colleagues realised the benefits of engaging in collaborative inquiry? We'd love to hear more! smiley

Examples of collaborative practice in Enabling e-Learning:


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