Use a Process-of-Inquiry to

Teach Principles-for-Inquiry


by Craig Rusbult, PhD  —

For 3 years, I led Round Table Discussions at the California STEM Symposium:

in 2014 – Build Bridges between Engineering and Science to Improve NGSS Practices – which then was updated...

in 2015 – How to Improve Diversity and Equity with Transfer-Bridges [and Transition-Bridges] for Problem Solving ;

and in 2016 – After writing a program description (below), I found that one of my favorite parts of the experience was
my own discoveries of deeper insights about functional relationships between actions in 4 Ways to Use Experiments.


 Use a Process-of-Inquiry to Teach Principles-for-Inquiry 

 Learn how to ask Science Questions and Engineering Questions that stimulate students’ metacognitive reflections [about their thinking & actions, about what they are doing, when, how, and why] before, during, and after inquiry activities.  Guide the process-of-inquiry to help students discover principles-for-inquiry [e.g., how we use experiments to make Information & critically Evaluate Ideas & creatively Generate Ideas] that improve their design thinking (problem solving) skills in all areas of life.     { This was my condensed description for the program, with [comments in brackets] added. }


To help you learn more about the WHAT-and-HOW of helping students discover Principles for Inquiry, I made a one-page handout (in color or grayscale) for the discussion, and I've written...

    "more about the [handout's] ideas," especially using experiments,
     and "other ideas [not in the handout]" about asking questions.

My 1-page handout and "Designing Instruction - Part 1" (in the left-side page when you click the link for "more") describe a two-part process of Designing Goal-Directed Instruction:


How can you design instruction that will help students learn more effectively, with more fun?  This is a problem (it's an opportunity to “make it better”) that you can solve with Design Thinking.

In one useful problem-solving approach — in a Designing of Goal-Directed Instruction — you:

    1. Define GOALS for desired outcomes, for the ideas & skills you want students to learn;
    2. Design INSTRUCTION with Learning Activities that will provide opportunities for experience with these ideas & skills, and (typically in mini-Activities with guiding by a teacher)* will help students learn more from their experiences.     {* A common mini-activity is asking QUESTIONS that direct a student's attention to “what can be learned” from an experience.}

Basically, Step #1 is about WHAT to Teach, and #2 is HOW to Teach.


Craig Rusbult <>

bio - my life on a road less traveled

In twitter, I'm @DTprocess (where DT means DesignThinking) and I participate in a community of educators who are enthusiastic about DT – #DTk12chat (schedule) – so I like the conference theme of Designing our Future.

And here is an apology:

Oops — During my discussion sessions at the 2016 California STEM Symposium, my main focus was on WHAT.  Although I think this was a good use of our limited time — because I'm excited about “3 Ways (8 Ways?) to Use Experiments” in the WHAT, and I wanted to share these process-principles with you — unfortunately...   I did not quickly explain the WHAT-and-HOW (GOALS-and-ACTIVITIES) approach to Designing Instruction, and then say “in our brief 15 minutes I'll focus on WHAT, but for ideas-about-HOW you can type the URL at the beginning of my handout” and click the links below.  Therefore I'm now apologizing for not clearly explaining, at the beginning of our discussions, my decision to focus on WHAT rather than HOW.  Sorry.   :<(

Fortunately,  :<)  , the HOW (and more) is described in the left-and-right pages here.