METHODS OF INQUIRY
                                         ECONOMICS

                                    MODERN AND ANCIENT HISTORY

                                        SOSE

 
The Inquiry-based approach used in Economics
 

A learning environment is provided that will encourage and challenge students to develop their sense of inquiry and those skills associated with enterprise education.

Key employment competencies, used in Economics include

What is an inquiry?

The inquiry approach is a process, a way of thinking and problem solving for students which has application in various ways.

It is an effective strategy for:

– the development of higher order thinking skills

– increasing student involvement and ownership of the curriculum an

– encompassing effective teaching and learning principles and individual difference.

Involvement in the process of inquiry may be a classroom activity that takes place in a lesson or occurs over a few lessons.

Inquiries that take place over a longer time frame enable students to be guided by teachers in their inquiry journey.

Such activities are effective for students working on their own, or in pairs, or in teams. It is expected that students are

engaged in an ‘in-depth’ inquiry such as this at least once each semester.
 

The inquiry process
 

The basic elements of the inquiry approach are:

Teachers and students should be involved in the process of making decisions about the inquiries being developed.

Systematic observations of inquiries in classrooms suggest that students puzzling over a problem seldom follow the

scientific model of inquiry in its ideal form. Many students rapidly scan the available data and jump to premature conclusions.

Others give up easily if they are unable to come quickly to a conclusion. Teachers should be prepared to intervene while

their students are developing inquiry skills.
 

The roles teachers and students will take in the inquiry process should be carefully planned.
 

Selecting the topics, audience and purpose

Students will be involved in the proposal and selection of inquiry topics, especially as they become skilled in understanding

the inquiry process and the economic concepts integral to the inquiry.

The inquiries are selected using the following:

Identifying questions, issues or problems

This step is important because it affects the type and scope of inquiry. The questions or problems may come from the student
or from the teacher. The students should want to pursue the inquiry and they may be motivated by:

 Roles of the teacher in this phase may include:  Roles of the students in this phase include:  Conducting the inquiry

During this phase, students should be involved in:

 At times it will be essential for the teacher to intervene and help students to refine or redevelop some particular aspect(s) of the inquiry.

Students in this phase are to use various critical-thinking operations and data-gathering procedures as defined in the objectives.

The teacher’s role in this phase is to act as facilitator, with a major contribution in sustaining the inquiry. This is particularly true

while students are being taught procedures associated with inquiry. Teachers may intervene less when students are proficient.

The teacher should be involved in sustaining the inquiry by:

Concluding the inquiry

During this phase of the inquiry, students should be involved in:

During this phase, teachers should be involved in:  Two suggested approaches to inquiries in Economics are set out in Tables 1 and 2.

Table 1: A suggested approach to inquiry-based study in Economics
 
A method of problem solving 

A suggested framework for the study of economic problems and issues involves the following steps: 

1. Define the problem/issue.
  • What is the problem/issue?
– Where can it be seen?                                    
– How does it show itself?  
– How is it reported or presented?                           
– What are our goals or objectives regarding the problem or issue? 
  • Whose problem/issue is it?
– Who are the parties with an immediate interest?  
– What do they want?  
– What are their claims, arguments, interests, values?  
– Who are the other parties with a less immediate interest?  
– How are they affected? 
  • What is the evidence regarding the problem/issue?
– What reliable data can be found to support the various arguments and    
    counter-arguments or to shed light on the situation? 

2. Identify the economic aspects of the problem/issue. 

Can we distinguish different aspects of the problem? 
What are the technical aspects? 
What are the financial aspects? 
What are the economic aspects? 
What are the causes of the problem/issue? 
What are the effects of the problem/issue: 
What are the costs/benefits involved? 
What are the benefits involved? 
What economic ideas, concepts and theories help us to understand the situation? 
  
3. Look for alternative solutions to the problem/issue. 

  • What are the various proposals to resolve or alleviate the problem/issue? What would these proposals involve? 
  • How can we best establish the likely consequences of each option? 
  • What evidence is there to support or argue against each proposed solution?
 4. Choose the best solution according to our goals, costs and benefits. 
 
  • Do our goals or objectives regarding the problem or issue need to be revisited? 
  • What criteria should be used to evaluate suggested solutions? What is the place among these criteria for economic efficiency, economic freedom and economic equity? 
  • Is there any other evidence to help us decide on the best solution?
  

On the basis of such analysis, the best decision or course of action is that which best contributes to our most important goals and criteria when we compare the costs and benefits of each alternative proposal. 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 2: An approach to inquiry-based study in Economics using hypotheses
 
 

An important tool used by all social scientists, and especially economists, is hypothesising. As a hypothesis is a statement of what is assumed to be true, it is a tentative explanation. It is usually expressed as a statement, or sometimes as a question or an ifBthen proposition. This statement should then be tested to see if it can be verified. When it has been confirmed by data and by the evidence gathered, it becomes a conclusion or a generalisation, which can be used in future decision making and problem solving. 

 Some examples: 

As a statement 

 The main causes of inflation are wage increases and government spending.  

  • Firms in the same industry usually locate in the same area. 
  • As population density increases, pollution problems will increase.
 As a question 

 Why do factory workers usually specialise in one task? 

 As an if-then proposition 

 If a commodity is scarce, then its price will be high. 

 Following are recommended steps for hypothesising: 

             1. Topic Set down the topic being investigated. 

2. Objectives Set out objectives for studying the topic. 

 3. Hypothesis Establish and refine the hypothesis as a statement or question. 

4. Data Gather and evaluate data relevant to the hypothesis. 

5. Testing Establish appropriate evidence and sources to test the validity of the  

    hypothesis, and apply these. 

6. Conclusions Confirm or reject the hypothesis. If confirmed, establish  

    generalisations and conclusions. If rejected, can it be modified or is a new  

   hypothesis required and further investigation needed? 

  
Sometimes, it may also be necessary to add:

            7. Presentation Determine the best way to present the outcomes of the data               
               gathering,  testing and conclusions.
 
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The Process of Historical InquirySenior Modern and Ancient History
 

The focus of the curriculum is inquiry. This is developed in the in-depth studies in which students identify an historical issue, investigate that issue and reach conclusions or make judgments about it.

This process will provide learning situations that facilitate the fulfilment of the objectives specified in this syllabus. Therefore, there will be no need to teach the objectives one by one. Rather, teachers will highlight the various processes, skills and concepts as they are encountered during the investigation.

In any in-depth study, the use of a variety of historical sources, primary as well as secondary, will be crucial. This is a principle of historical inquiry. Other such principles of historical inquiry are described within the context of the following discussion.

Phases of historical inquiry

A core requirement of this work program is that `each in-depth study must embody a process of historical inquiry'.

To ensure a process of inquiry, historical studies should usually proceed through the following phases:

• identification of an issue

• the framing of relevant research questions or hypotheses

• the framing of subquestions to guide the investigation

• the location of varied, relevant evidence

• interpretation, analysis, evaluation and corroboration of evidence

• identification of any additional evidence needed

• creation of the first and subsequent drafts with reconsidered judgments

• completion of the final presentation.
 

Repetition of all or some of the above phases may be necessary.

Guidelines of historical procedure
 
There are a number of guidelines that historians use in the various phases of inquiry. It is accepted generally
that in any historical inquiry, there should be:

 • a relevance to students and their surrounding culture

• a concern with the causes and consequences of change and continuity in human events

• responses to issues that emerge from the evidence

• a willingness to make tentative judgments based on the evidence

• support for the key components of the conclusions with evidence

• evaluation of the problematic nature of historical evidence

• the creation of a structured response that has drawn upon many sources and that incorporates these new conclusions or ideas.
 

Students will be able to apply these principles more readily if they are given class time during the in-depth study to interact with other students and the teacher. Time may allow students the opportunity for sustained reflection, which in turn may allow for the development of empathy and the clarification of values.

Students may then proceed to express their judgments and their proficiency in inquiry through:
 

• presenting a written assignment, which may involve developing a series of drafts

• responding under test conditions, which could involve response to stimulus, recall of  information and short and extended writing tasks

• developing a presentation in oral, dramatic, artistic or other suitable form.

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The Inquiry Process for SOSE