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Academic Inquiry

Learn the basics of academic inquiry and expectations for research at the academic level.

Practical Strategies for Inquiry-based Learning

So, how do you put all of this inquiry-based scholarship into practice? Inquiring minds want to know!  

Below are some practical strategies for approaching assignments from a place of inquiry and applying your critical thinking skills to your research and writing.  

  • Read your assignment closely - Read and re-read your assignment. Take time to reflect on writing-related assignments and think deeply about how you might approach the task from a place of exploration.  

  • Communicate with your instructor - Use your teacher as a resource. Communicate often and don’t be afraid to ask questions about assignment details or intended learning outcomes.  

  • Consider your audience - When approaching an assignment or task, keep the context of the course in mind, as well as your intended audience and personal learning goals. Different disciplines have different approaches to research and writing. 

  • Choose what interests you - Follow lines of inquiry that interest you within the context of your assignment. Direct your attention toward subjects or questions that give your writing purpose and meaning. Scholarship is more fun when you are exploring topics that matter to you!  

  • Make time - This seems like a no-brainer, but research and writing takes time and commitment. Plan ahead and make sure you’ve given yourself enough time to dedicate to your projects.  

  • Use the library as a resource - Speaking of time, librarians can save you a lot of it! Librarians are experts in finding and evaluating information and can quickly set you on the right track to locating relevant, high-quality resources. They can help you think through a line of inquiry and develop a research strategy that best suits your needs. Don’t sleep on this resource! 

  • Read actively - Annotate and keep notes as you read the literature. Mark the main thesis or problem, make note of key claims, and write down anything that you find unclear or feel is missing from the text. This will help you keep track of your research as well as help you to organize your own thoughts. Consider using a citation management application.

  • Be flexible - In order to approach concepts with an open, inquiring mind, you must be willing to adapt, edit, or change your ideas or understanding of a topic throughout the writing and research process. Draft your ideas and questions early in the research process and continue to revise and develop these as you go.  

  • Take pride in your work - Remember to view yourself as an active participant in the field of scholarship. By choosing to go to school or to take a specific class, you are actively engaging in the scholarly conversation. Your voice is important! Take pride in your work and you will do well. 

As always, if you have any questions about this content or would like to learn more about the research process, please ask a librarian. 

Further Reading