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What’s your central question?

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Why are you doing the work your doing here? What do you want to be able to tell others you know at the end that you don’t now? i.e. What’s your central question?

So far and certainly in Iteration 1, our focus has been on what you want the learners to know and how you’ll go about getting them to do so. In this topic, you’re asked to articulate what it is you want to get out of this project. What’s the key thing you’re trying to learn? What’s the central question of your work?

A catalyst: An Ethic of Inquiry and a Taxonomy of Central Questions

To help you with this task, I share a chapter called Approaching the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning written by Pat Hutchings.

On pages 1-10 of this document (pages 8-17 of the PDF), she outlines what she calls An Ethic of Inquiry and A Taxonomy of Questions. It’s those sections in particular that I would draw your attention to.

The rest of the document is super interesting too and contains the cases she refers to in her introduction – in case you want to dig deeper.

The steps you should follow at this stage:

As described in the video above, we want you to:

  1. Read Hutchings’ introductory article (and any other parts of the Opening Lines document you wish)
  2. Reflect on the inquiry-based approach being proposed here. I know not everyone going through this Curriculum Design Studio is going to be doing a full-blown research project, and that many of you who are will already have research questions and methodologies in your back pocket. But either way, I’d ask you to look at your curriculum design work with this lens e.g. instead of just asking How am I going to make this happen in my classroom?, also ask: What is it I seek to know or find out by doing so? This is about shifting your thinking from the questions you want your students to answer (the stuff on your Learning Experience Snapshot) to the question(s) you want to answer through this work.
  3. Next, try to classify the nature of your inquiry. Ask yourself: Is my central question a “what works?”, a “what is?”, a “visions of the possible” or a “new framework” kind of question? These are the categories Hatchings introduces in her introduction.
  4. Then ask and clearly articulate for yourself: What, specifically, is my central question? Come up with a central question that you can share with others to clearly and succinctly explain to them what it is you aim to answer by implementing your curriculum project.

If you are taking a research approach to this work then you might also want to pause at this point to connect the dots, e.g. to how your methodology is going to help you answer your research question and, specifically, what kinds of data are going to end up with that are going to lead to the evidence you need in order to make that happen.

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