Design of Inquiry Learning Activity

Context: This activity seeks to build on the C2C Changing Nations by adjusting the format of the summative assessment item – a multimodal research task. The time allocated in the C2C unit for students to work on this task at school is 13 non- consecutive lessons. During that time, this new task will endeavour to provide:

  • Increased use of internet resources,
  • Improved questioning frameworks,
  • More scaffolded evaluation of sources,
  • Greater access to group and class discussion,
  • Improved opportunities to reflect on learning, and
  • Assessment that links to a real world issue.

School context: It is valuable to have some background information about the type of school for which this activity has been designed. Firstly, the activity is designed for the Year 8 students attending an independent school on the Gold Coast. The majority of students are from high to middle income families; they are enthusiastic about their learning and believe they are university bound. Secondly, every student is provided with a laptop and it would be rare for a student to be unable to access the internet at home as well as at school. Finally, homework is a mandatory part of schooling for students who attend this school and therefore has been assumed within the task guidelines.

This activity provides students an opportunity to engage in the research process while broadening their outlook on the ways in which people move within and between national borders, the reasoning behind those journeys and the social, economic, political and environmental consequences of migration. Most importantly students are asked to consider how to plan for increasing movements of people around the globe.

Overview: In this guided inquiry, the essential question will be:

 How much diversity should a nation accept?

Students will address the following questions from the Australian Curriculum:

  • How do interconnections between places, people and environments affect the lives of people?
  • What are the consequences of changes to places and environments and how can these changes be managed?

Descriptors from the Australian Curriculum are limited to:

  • Reasons for, and effects of, internal migration in both Australia and China(ACHGK056)
  • Reasons for, and effects of, international migration in Australia(ACHGK058)
  • Management and planning of Australia’s urban future (ACHGK059)

The Geographic Inquiry and skills are the same as those that can be found in the C2C document and at the ACARA website.

The General Capabilities incorporated into this task include literacy, numeracy, critical and creative thinking, ICT capabilities, personal and social capabilities, ethical understanding, and intercultural understanding. Details can be found at General Capabilities.

The cross curriculum priorities include Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia, and sustainability. Details may be found by following the link to cross curriculum priorities.

Year 8 achievement standards can be found be following this link.

The following table contains links to lessons that may be used by teachers and students to follow a guided inquiry approach. Lesson 1 forms part of an initiating phase so I have included activities to stimulate thinking and refine students ideas about migration (ie more than just animals move around the planet). Lessons 2 and 3 use the C2C resources about internal migration so there are no additional activities on this site. Lesson 4 introduces International Migration (part 2 of the initiating phase) which is the focus of the Inquiry Leaning Activity. Subsequent lessons aim to use a guided inquiry to enable students to make sense of their world in an effort to place the activity within the transformative GeSTE window (Lupton and Bruce, 2010)

In a addition to these lessons, another lesson or two may be required for students to present their work. Ideally, this would take many forms and mostly be aired in real world situations. For example: an audio visual presentation on assembly, a web site, an email, a newsletter article.

Lesson Outline:
Lesson sequence
What is migration?
How does internal migration affect Australia? (C2C materials )
How does internal migration affect China? (C2C materials )
What is international migration?
How does migration affect me?
Where do I look to find information about migration?
How do organise my search for information?
How do I narrow my research?
How do I form a focus?
What do you think?
What are the impacts of international migration?
What is it really like for international migrants?
How do we make decisions?
Are we there yet?
What do I think now?

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century. Westport,CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Lupton, M., & Bruce, C. (2010). Windows on information literacy worlds: generic, situated and transformative perspectives. In Annemaree Lloyd & Sanna Talja (eds.), Practicing information Literacy: bringing theories of learning, practice and information literacy together. Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, pp. 3 – 27.

Analysis and recommendations                                                                                                                   Final Reflections

4 thoughts on “Design of Inquiry Learning Activity

  1. Hi Katrina,

    This is such a thorough redesign of the curriculum, with a clear progression from the initial inquiry question designed to engage students in learning (What is migration?) to the final reflective lesson for evaluating the research (What do I think I know?). I particularly like how every lesson is framed with a question, particularly the ones with the student at the centre (How does migration affect me? How do I form a focus? etc). It’s a simple shift but is really important to move student thinking from being question-answerers to question askers!

    Furthermore, the essential question that frames unit, How much diversity should a nation accept? is such a potent question! I personally would really enjoy engaging in answering that one and discovering my own ideas through an extended investigation.

    Lastly, I was also interested in how the design of the unit you worked with was quite similar to the one I used. Namely, a series of lessons involving teacher-generated questions following with activities and worksheets for students to complete. It’s such an old-fashioned way of teaching, but it seems schools really still do rely on this method!

    All the best,


  2. Hey Katrina,

    Love this guided ILA!!! As mentioned above the constant questioning ensures students are constantly researching and finding answers to questions that continually change as the unit develops.

    As I primary school teacher librarian I am unsure on how much a Year 8 student may already know about reliability, accuracy and validity of research results but could need refreshing when they look at narrowing down research results in Lesson 8.

    The extra inclusion of sharing knowledge learnt and reflecting on their learning adds another dimension to the unit that allows the students to grow and develop from both theirs and others learning.

    Thanks for all your effort!! I enjoyed exploring your blog!!

    Leesa Keaton


    1. Hi Leesa,
      Thanks for your feedback. This unit will be used in term 2 next year so I was keen to make it relatively self- explanatory. I’m sure you are right about year 8s needing an explanation about the evaluation criteria. We have signs (posters) in our classrooms that define terms including these, but inevitably they need these pointed out and sometimes explained.
      All the best for your studies


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