Inquiry in Classroom Practice

Project Overview

In the early 2000s, Churchill School in Thunder Bay, Ontario began to incorporate inquiry instructional model. This research investigates varies aspects of the school culture and student engagement through an in depth examination of Churchill School. Students are introduced to inquiry teaching in the 9th grade. The type and complexity of the inquiry increases through grades 10, 11, and 12. The teachers engage the students in guided inquiry as well as self-directed inquiry. Several research projects are in the process in a collaborative team of professors from Lakehead University, TCU and Churchill School. These include:

  • Case study of some of the teachers and of the whole department
  • Ethnography of three generations of mentors/mentee who have been responsible for the inquiry approach in the school
  • Examination of student matriculation patterns compared to non-inquiry schools
  • Analysis of classroom actions during inquiry

Research Team



  • Doug Jones (Churchill School, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada)
  • Nike Sacevich (Churchill School, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada)
  • Jane Lampo (Churchill School, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada)


  • Barrow, L. (2006). A Brief History of Inquiry: From Dewey to Standards. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 17:265-278.
  • Martin-Hansen, L. (2002). Defining Inquiry. The Science Teacher, 69(2), 34-37.
  • National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  • National Research Council. (2000). Inquiry and the national science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  • Settlage, J. (2007). Demythologizing Science Teacher Education: Conquering the False Ideal of Open Inquiry. Journal of Science Teacher Education (2007) 18:461-467.
  • Windschitl, M. (2004). Folk theories of “inquiry:” How pre-service teachers reproduce the discourse and practices of an atheoretical scientific method. Journal of Research in Science Teaching (2004) 41:481-512
  • Withee, T., & Lindell, R. (2006) Different Views on Inquiry: A Survey of Science and Mathematics Methods Instructors. AIP Conference Proceedings, 2006, Vol. 818 Issue 1, p125-128.


  • Melville, W., Weinburgh, M., Bartley, A. & Hardy, I. (submitted). School administrators and departmental chairs: Fields and the implementation of a change. Leadership and Policy in Schools. 28 pages.
  • Melville, W., Bartley, A. & Weinburgh, M. (2012). Change forces: Implementing change in a secondary school for the common good. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 133, 1-26
  • Bartley, A., Melville, W., Weinburgh, M., Jones, D., Lampo, A., Sacevich, N. & Lower, J. (2011). Curriculum innovation from within: Emancipatory action research in the context of single sex classes in science and mathematics. Proceedings of the 2011 Annual Conference of the Association for Science Teacher Education, Minneapolis, MN.