Resource Image A Template for Open Inquiry

by: Ronald S. Hermann and Rommel J. Miranda
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Type of Resource: Journal Article
Average Rating: Rating
 based on 7 reviews
Publication Title: The Science Teacher
Publication Date: 11/1/2010
Grade Level: High School


This article provides an instructional approach to helping students generate open-inquiry research questions, which the authors call the open-inquiry question template. This template was created based on their experience teaching high school science and preservice university methods courses. To help teachers implement this template, they describe its use in a ninth-grade Earth and space science class, in which students learn about meteorite impacts. The lesson takes place over two, 90-minute class periods.

Ideas For Use


open or full inquiry
Posted in New Teachers by Carolyn Mohr on Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:40 PM

Hi Cynthia! Tina had lots of great suggestions. I would like to add to her ideas. There are a couple of lesson plans ...

Additional Info

Science Discipline: (mouse over for full classification)
Phases of the moon
Analyzing data
Asking questions
Collecting data
Interpreting data
Scientific habits of mind
Intended User Role:Curriculum Supervisor, High-School Educator, Teacher
Educational Issues:Assessment of students, Classroom management, Curriculum, Educational research, Inquiry learning, Instructional materials, Integrating technology, Teacher preparation, Teaching strategies


Resource Format:
Size: KB
Installation Remarks:

National Standards Correlation

This resource has 15 correlations with the National Standards.  

This resource has 15 correlations with the National Standards.  

  • Earth Science
    • Changes in earth and sky
      • The observable shape of the moon changes from day to day in a cycle that lasts about a month.
    • Earth in the solar system
      • The earth is the third planet from the sun in a system that includes the moon, the sun, eight other planets and their moons, and smaller objects, such as asteroids and comets. (5-8)
      • Most objects in the solar system are in regular and predictable motion. (5-8)
  • Science as Inquiry
    • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
      • Ask a question about objects, organisms, and events in the environment. (K-4)
      • Use data to construct a reasonable explanation.
      • Communicate investigations and explanations.
      • Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data.
      • Think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations.
      • Identify questions and concepts that guide scientific investigations. (9-12)
    • Understandings about scientific inquiry
      • Types of investigations include describing objects, events, and organisms; classifying them; and doing a fair test (experimenting).
      • Scientists develop explanations using observations (evidence) and what they already know about the world (scientific knowledge). Good explanations are based on evidence from investigations. (K-4)
      • In presenting data, graphs are used to convey comparisons or trends. (9-12)
  • Teaching Standards
    • Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students.
      • Select teaching and assessment strategies that support the development of student understanding and nurture a community of science learners.
    • Teachers of science guide and facilitate learning. In doing this, teachers
      • Encourage and model the skills of scientific inquiry, as well as the curiosity, openness to new ideas and data, and skepticism that characterize science.
    • Teachers provide students with the time, space, and resources needed to learn science.
      • Create a setting for student work that is flexible and supportive of science inquiry.

User Reviews

links of resources
  William Grover (Julian, CA) on April 15, 2015
  I have assembled these resources together to aid me in linking thoughts on energy and it's effects on the environment. I want my students to be able to make a solid inquiry and relate classroom ideas to the outside "real world."

Inquiry Anyone?
  Lorrie Armfield (Laurel, MD) on January 21, 2012
  The open-inquiry template is designed to facilitate student-generated research questions by providing a highly structured, yet open-ended questioning format. The authors suggest that once students understand the process by which meaningful and context-driven research questions are developed, they will be more capable of developing open-ended research questions. The Earth and space lesson provided on impact craters, was neat, and something that can definitely be done in the science classroom. I would love to move my scholars to more inquiry-based instruction, and this particular article did a great job with sustaining my attention and provoking my curiosity.

A New Look at an Old (4-Question) Strategy
  Carolyn Mohr (Buffalo Grove, IL) on November 10, 2010
  As the authors remind us, it is sometimes difficult for students to come up with novel research questions and experimental designs to test variables in the earth/space sciences. Their approach is similar to the "4-Question Strategy" that was revisited in an article on pages 61 - 63 of the September 2008 issue of the Science Scope journal (Science Sampler: Caution! Scientists in the Making). Both approaches provide a frame to quide students in using an open inquiry approach to experimentation.

Open Inquiry
  Yolanda Smith-Evans (Houston, TX) on July 31, 2013
  Great resource for helping educators focus on how to engage students so that they are asking questions and driving their own learning.

Open Inquiry
  Yolanda Smith-Evans (Houston, TX) on March 28, 2012
  I am greatful to have run across this article. The information is invaluable and presented in a logical manner. Although I work with middle school classes, I appreciate information. We mostly have earth science in middle school so this model is on time. Thanks.

Good for high school
  LeRoy A on December 30, 2010
  Open inquiry is a great strategy to use for High School students.

Better Inquiry Resources Available
  Therese H (Salisbury, MD) on May 12, 2011
  Why are the authors suggesting to make a model based on kinematics to explain a phenomenon that occurs at reduced gravity? The article has a good rubric for scoring student inquiry methods, but I wouldn't use their methods as a template.