Intercepting the Creative Mind in Independent Inquiry Projects
by Chris Blanks | MindShift
Say goodbye to the days of building projects with pencils and protractors in the school cafeteria. Now, independent inquiry projects offer a flexible and high-quality DIY environment that students enjoy. The academic rewards of working on an independent inquiry project make them well worth the time and energy. However, the trial and error process of creating a project is intimidating and requires a well-defined process.
The majority of independent inquiry projects are full-service projects that develop solutions for specific problems or projects. By starting an independent inquiry project on a blank canvas, students are presented with many options to tackle an inquiry project. By choosing one of these options, students can take on the challenge and make an impactful impact on one of the most important moments of their lives. However, not all independent inquiry projects are the same and involve the same basic requirements. Before a project can begin, it needs to be decided on the beginning, middle, and end points.
The Beginning Point
When constructing an independent inquiry project, the idea is to choose a major, scope the project, and research the problem. Find the appropriate place in the budget to tackle the problem, and begin in the end point—the actual finishing point of the finished project.
To begin a project, students need to decide where to start. Some projects require some type of initial work in a different research field to start with.
By doing research in different fields, students have a greater chance of finding a solution to a problem that is similar to their own field. If the student’s question requires research in a different field, but there are clearly similarities, the process will work out well.
By choosing a specific starting point, students will use their mental model to map out their process. This is essential to organizing their work and leads to a well-constructed project.
Research and Preparation
Students begin with research in other fields and goal-setting in order to determine what they are investigating. This will lead to an informed review of the area and a better understanding of the solution.
Once students start their independent inquiry project, they should take note of their goal of learning something. This will allow them to assess their time, prepare for the questions they will ask, and stick to their projects.
Once students start the research and map out the project, they should set up meetings with their adviser. This provides students with a base of knowledge that is necessary to successfully complete an independent inquiry project.
Keep in mind that this research phase is not as urgent as the initial starting point. This is an opportunity to take a step back and find the answer to why students should learn this specific field or what their mission is.
To get a better idea of what an independent inquiry project should look like, check out the process outlined in this video.