SoSt 200  Introduction to Social Studies


Inquiry & Discovery


  1. Inquiry (Barr, Barth & Shermis, 1979)
    1. The process of inquiry begins with an experience.  It transforms a settled and untroubled situation into a confused and uncertain one.  It forces the individual into an “I don’t know” situation.
    2. Doubt and uncertainty—tension
    3. Framing the problem:

                                                               i.      What do I know?  What do I think I know?  What do I not know?  What do I understand?

                                                             ii.      It is not possible to address everything all at once

                                                            iii.      Need time to think about questions, use existing knowledge and begin to identify what students do not know.

    1. Formulating an hypothesis (foreseeing consequences)
    2. Exploring and finding evidence (seeking clues)
    3. Generalization
  1. Problem Solving (Barry Beyer)
    1. Clarify the problem
    2. Hypothesize the solution
    3. Test hypotheses
    4. Draw conclusions about hypotheses
    5. Apply conclusions
  2. Decision Making (Barry Beyer)
    1. Define a goal
    2. Identify obstacles to achieving the goal
    3. Identify alternative solutions
    4. Analyze alternatives
    5. Choose “best” alternative
  3. Conceptualizing (Barry Beyer)
    1. Identify examples
    2. Identify common attributes
    3. Classify attributes
    4. Interrelate categories of attributes
    5. Identify additional examples/non-examples
    6. Modify concept attributes/structure

Robert Kunzman, The civic (and pedagogical) virtue of recognizing reasonable disagreement, Theory and Research in Social Education, 2006, 34(2), pp. 162-182.

            1.  Reasonable people may disagree about the best ways to live

            2.  The virtue of  reasonable disagreement”  requires

                        a.  Imaginative engagement

                        b.  Mutual goodwill

            3.  Since conflicting eithical perspectives are often informed by religion, public schools should help students learn to engage thoughtfully and respectfully across these differences.


Karen Stromme Christensen,  Conducting public policy in conditions of undertainty, Ch. 7 in Cities and Complexity:  Making Intergovernmental Decisions, Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage Publications, 1999.

            1.  A strategy of variability

                        a.  Goals (outcomes, ends) may be agreed (prespecified) or not (open)

                        b.  Technology (process, means) may be known (presecified) or unknown (open)

            2.  Structure of organization or policy formulation depends on structure of variability.  For example, for organizational form:

                        a.  Agreed/known—Stable rules (bureaucy/regulation)

                        b.  Agreed/unknown—Change & expansion (decentralization/taskforces)

                        c.  Open/known—Agreed “rules of the game” (forums, arenas, courts, collegial decisionmaking)

                        d.  Open/unknown—Redundant checks



© 2004 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 3 January 2006