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Inquiry Cycle

22 July, 2019 - 09:40
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Figure 1.1 Five steps in an inquiry cycle lead naturally to the next cycle

This is the type of guidance that this course attempts to provide. Because the content and context of your inquiry will depend so much on you as an individual, this course focuses instead on the structure and process of an Internet-assisted music inquiry. Inquiry is often pictured as a cycle or spiral with specific steps that lead to the next inquiry cycle, (see Figure 1.1), so each module in this course focuses on a type of question that is common in music-learning investigations and that could be the focus of one inquiry cycle. Rather than providing specific answers - which will depend on the specifics of your question - the module outlines the process for completing an inquiry cycle when you have that type of question. For example, Harmonic Analysis as Inquiry could be used to study a sonata, a jazz tune, or a popular song. Listening to Unfamiliar Music: An Inquiry Module could help introduce you to the music of another culture, or the classical music of your own culture.

In addition to music-inquiry modules, there are also some modules that introduce you to each step of an inquiry (see the following sections). You do not need to do all of these modules. For example, if you have a very clear grasp of both the long-term goal and the beginning question of your inquiry, you can probably skip the "ask" module. However, you may want to do at least one of these inquiries, because these "beginners' modules" provide practice in conducting a cycle of inquiry, as well as practical guidance in how to accomplish each step of an inquiry. However, if you are eager to dive right into your music inquiry, you can begin with one of the Music Inquiry Modules modules, and consult the Introductions to Inquiry Steps modules if you find yourself stuck at a particular step.

This course is published as if it were a typical linear course. If you view these modules as part of the course, your screen should show a left-sidebar that lists all of the modules, as well as a link at the end of the module to the "next" module. However, you do not have to do all of the modules, nor do you have to do modules in the order that they appear in the course. There are no automatic prerequisites in inquiry. You decide what you understand well enough for now, as well as what you want to study next. You can find below a Music Inquiry Modules of the inquiry-style modules that are available, or you can view a list of the course modules as a left-hand sidebar if you open the course in Connexions. I encourage you to start where it seems to make sense for you to start, and to contact me if you have suggestions for how to organize this type of course. (This is an experimental course that I consider to be part of an inquiry into how to create online educational materials that support inquiry!)

Inquiry is often pictured as a cycle. For the purposes of this course, I have borrowed a Inquiry Cycle that I learned from Dr. Bertram C. Bruce. Professor Bruce and others at the University of Illinois have created an online Inquiry Page that includes useful background information about inquiry as well as many examples of inquiries in a variety of subject areas. There are five steps in this cycle: Ask, Investigate, Create, Discuss, and Reflect.