TEKS Talk - SLA Inquiry Research image

Knowledge and Skills Statement

Inquiry and research: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking using multiple texts. The student engages in both short-term and sustained recursive inquiry processes for a variety of purposes.

Have students brainstorm ideas for an inquiry project. This can consist of listing or completing a graphic organizer such as a web. Then have students examine and synthesize their ideas to generate a final list of questions.

Further Explanation

This assessment requires students to choose a topic of interest for research and make decisions about what questions they hope the research will answer.

Students should learn that informal and formal inquiries require different types of questions. Formal inquiries require an established process and typically include a specific goal, such as arriving at a new conclusion. For example, for a formal inquiry into how sleep affects attitudes and achievement, the student might ask, “What is the ideal amount of sleep for a sixth-grade student?” An informal inquiry does not require the same complex process as when researching a formal topic. The goal of informal inquiry is often to gain context for something or begin exploring a new topic in a general way. For example, students investigating a simple topic, such as sleep habits among their peers, may generate questions such as “Do you have a bedtime routine?”
Students are expected to consider what they want to know about a topic and create questions that encourage investigation. Students should consider the general aspects of a topic (who, what, when, where, why, how) to create questions that narrow the focus of their inquiry. For instance, when researching an author, students might ask questions such as “Who influenced this writer? What topics does this author tend to focus on? When did this author begin publishing works?” Students should also identify opportunities for further inquiry after a discussion guided by a teacher, either in a whole group or small group setting.


Henning, T. (2011). Ethics as a form of critical and rhetorical inquiry in the writing classroom. The English Journal, 100(6), 34–40. 

Summary: To observe the  connection between critical thinking, ethics cannot be defined in terms of a static list of rules but instead as a framework for questioning choices and behavior. Writing teachers recognize some of the limitations of static rules because devices of information, resources, and modes of writing have consistently changed with the ongoing progress of technology. However, students find it difficult to move away from the static list of rules to a mode that involves thought, flexibility, and a critical perspective of "what ifs." In this article, teachers are encouraged to  provide students with the opportunity to use this kind of inquiry as a framework for writing.