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Dewey’s Inquiry Cycle . As explicated by Chip Bruce (summarized by Gary Richmond). Dewey ‘s Pragmatism. Inquiry ought to be reality based Each of the 5 stages of this “spiral path of inquiry” interpenetrates with all the others

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Dewey s inquiry cycle

Dewey’s Inquiry Cycle

As explicated by Chip Bruce

(summarized by Gary Richmond)

Dewey s pragmatism
Dewey ‘s Pragmatism

  • Inquiry ought to be reality based

  • Each of the 5 stages of this “spiral path of inquiry” interpenetrates with all the others

  • The cycle is merely “suggestive”—not the be all and end all of inquiry

  • The cycle means “to relate theory with ordinary practices”


  • Students should learn that the only really important questions to ask are their own

  • This begins with instilling in them the desire to inquire, and so, the desire to learn

  • Students have to find authentic problems, real questions of importance to them

  • Bruce recommends what Charles Peirce called musement, sitting still, pretending “not to be looking”—until the really good question arises

  • “We need to build curriculum around the impulses (or instincts) of the learner


  • This is the information gathering process

  • Experience(s) -< experiment(s)

  • Dimensions of inquiry: intellectual, moral, physical, aesthetic, and practical

  • Learners need to be imbued with curiosity -< inquiry -< action

  • This process ought to be ‘owned’ by the engaged learner


  • Create what?

  • For Dewey (and Peirce) the answer is: create meaning

    By hands on learning

    Through collaboration

    By the learner making connections (critical thinking involving seeing significant relations)

Discuss 1
Discuss (1)

  • Inquiry is both personal and communal (“our participation in social arrangements”)

  • So, this involves both listening to others with an open mind, as well as “articulating our own understandings”

  • Dialogue is dialogic: my thesis, your antithesis, our synthesis

  • Sharing knowledge can lead to community building (including online communities)

Discuss 2 affectionate interpretation
Discuss (2)“Affectionate interpretation”

  • (1) I could be wrong

  • (2) There is a “noble impulse” in you—and, you could be right (and even if not, you are trying your best)

    We need to act “as if” it were yet possible to establish the conditions that might result in the growth of human-kind—”faith in humans”

    “Every man is a part of mankind”—John Donne


  • “Only the inquirer can recognize the indeterminate situation and . . . [s]ay whether it has been transformed into an unified whole”

  • Then each of us—individually and as communities—need “to move from new concepts into action”

  • Naturally, this may lead to further inquiry (so, the ongoing circle of inquiry)—but perhaps some positive good will have already been accomplished

The inquiry cycle summary
The Inquiry Cycle: Summary

  • Reflect on experiences; understand oneself as well as the world around

  • Ask meaningful questions; formulate one’s own goals

  • Investigate through multiple sources and media

  • Create, actively transform the world

  • Discuss with others, collaborate