The Inquiry Course

Inquiry Course Characteristics and Outcomes

Dimond Library

All Inquiry 444 courses or Inquiry Attribute courses must contain four individually necessary and collectively sufficient features:

1. Inspire curiosity.  An Inquiry student will compose open-ended questions that lead to further investigation into increasingly focused problems and issues.

2. Develop understanding and persepective-taking.  An Inquiry student will explain a central issue or question of the course using at least two unique perspectives.

3. Clarify standards of thinking.  An Inquiry student will be able to identify, compare, and evaluate different interpretations (hypotheses, explanations) of a given phenomenon.

4. Create effective communicators. An Inquiry student will present in clearly organized form the results of the investigation into questions or problems they have posed.

In addition:

  • All designated Inquiry 444 course enrollments must be capped at 25.
  • All designated Inquiry Attribute courses must be capped at no higher than 25 or 35 students in a) total course enrollment, or b) weekly discussion sessions, labs, or other interactive contexts.
  • All Inquiry courses must be lower-division (i.e., 400- or 500-level) courses.
  • Inquiry 444 and Inquiry Attribute courses may also count for Writing Intensive, Discovery Lab (DLAB), and disciplinary breadth requirements.
  • Academic departments and their colleges may decide whether the Inquiry 444 and Inquiry Attribute courses that they offer may also count toward course credits within their majors.

The University of New Hampshire's Inquiry 444 course is at one and the same time one course and many courses. Its singularity derives from the common learning outcomes that are associated with a set of agreed-upon "characteristics" of inquiry courses at UNH. The variety stems from the many unique versions of the INQ 444 through which those characteristics are made manifest and the outcomes achieved.

The Inquiry 444 Portfolio is intended to show how some instructors have been creating and teaching courses whose objectives are in keeping with the singular characteristics of 444s and yet express those common characteristics in their own very original ways. Various UNH faculty members from different departments have written course narratives to chart the process whereby they have designed courses that strike this balance. To access these course narratives, click on the titles listed on the right. Each narrative also contains a link to the syllabus for the course it describes.

Because assessment of student learning is such an important part of course and program improvement, we include in this portfolio an "assessment toolkit" that is focused on aspects of inquiry courses. The tools found therein were developed by faculty with inquiry learning outcomes in mind, and with the formative assessment of these courses collectively as a goal--as well as the assessment of the specific course the particular instructor was teaching. They represent attempts to address questions about what students are learning in these courses, and what features of the courses are most conducive to enhanced learning.

We wish to acknowledge the Davis Educational Foundation for a generous grant it made in support of this work.