Inquiry Myth #7 - Has a Low Effect Size

In this series I aim to bust some common myths I often hear in my travels supporting teachers and schools in adopting an Inquiry Mindset for their students. My hope is that we can begin to inform colleagues, parents, and students as to what the reality of inquiry truly is. Please help this movement by sharing these with your PLN.

Here we go with Myth #7!

Inquiry Myth #7 - Inquiry has a low effect size


  • Inquiry does score a low effect size. The research is clear on this. But why?

  • Inquiry scores a low effect size when: (i) teacher understanding of inquiry is low or they lack inquiry experience, (ii) inquiry lacks scaffolding and intentional guidance, and (iii) there is a lack of support for the teacher from the school or district level to help implementation

  • But when inquiry teachers have been supported with strong PD and learning opportunities, they strongly scaffold to support their learners, and there is school and district support, inquiry scores a much higher effect size

In all of my research on inquiry (and yes, I’ve done a lot) I have discovered that there are massive challenges educators face when it comes to implementing inquiry into their practice. When these challenges aren’t met and overcome, yes, inquiry scores a low effect size. But when these challenges are met inquiry transforms into a powerful pedagogy. Keep these three questions in mind when rolling out inquiry at your school:

1. Do teachers have a strong grasp of inquiry?

2. Do teachers scaffold and guide inquiry to support their learners?

3. Is the entire school and organization a culture of inquiry?