Inquiry Process Toolbox

Tools for teacher and students to use during the inquiry process


Step 1 is to formulate questions in relation to the inquiry focus (topic / phrase / situation). 

Use the tools and the guidelines below to help you pose your real questions.


Methods for Exploration

  • Internet searches
  • Non-Fiction text search
  • Database searches
  • Interviews
  • Field work
  • Conduct an initial experiment

Explore the topic

When deciding on a topic:
  • Brainstorm for ideas (what topics interest you or what topics stem from the teachers topic?).
  • Choose a topic that will enable you to read and understand the articles, websites, specialists and books you find.
  • Ensure that material on the topic is available and researchable.
  • Make a list of key words.
  • Be flexible. You may have to broaden or narrow your topic to fit your assignment or the sources you find.

Selecting a good topic may not be easy. It must be narrow and focused enough to be interesting, yet broad enough to find adequate information. Before selecting your final topic, make sure you know what your final project should look like.

It does help to list ideas for topics:
  1. List topics which interest you.
  2. What is the topics intriguing factors.
  3. What are the positives and negatives relating to the topics intriguing factors.
  4. Rank the topics according to the most intriguing to the least.
  5. The topic ranked at number 1 is the topic to start writing questions about.

Formulating Inquiry Questions

Questioning Rules - Use online tools or a pen and paper.
  1. Write as many questions down about the INQUIRY TOPIC as possible.
  2. Don't stop to discuss or try to answer any questions as your write.
  3. Write down the questions verbatim.
  4. Change all statements to questions.
Improve the Question(s)
  • Identify what questions are closed (eg yes / no answers) and what questions are open-ended.
  • Change closed questions to open-ended questions.
  • Will my question(s) help me discover what I NEED to know?
  • Use Bloom's Taxonomy to scale the complexity of the questions or  through this guide to writing questions OR use Glossary of key words used in the formulation of questions.
  • Prioritise your questions eg three you will answer first or highlight three that are the most important or three that you want to explore further. 
A focused research question will refine your topic

Inquiry Focus = Marie Curie
Research Question = How has Marie Curie influenced modern science?
Focused Research Question = What scientific principles used by Marie Curie are common in
contemporary science labs?

Adapted from 

What next?

Once you have formulated a question or questions that will ensure you cover the inquiry focus move onto Find Resources.

The right resources contain the information your require to answer your question(s).