Personal Inquiry

Scripted Inquiry Learning

The University of Nottingham and the Open University are partners in a project to help school students learn the skills of evidence- based inquiry in science and geography. The three year project, funded by the UK ESRC and EPSRC research councils, is developing a new approach of scripted inquiry learning, where children aged 11-14 carry out scientific explorations between their classroom, homes and discovery centres, supported by personal mobile technologies and shared classroom displays.

Inquiry toolkit

A computer toolkit is being developed that provides dynamic lesson plans to guide the learners through
a process of finding a topic, deciding on an inquiry question, planning and investigation, collecting and
analysing evidence, responding to the inquiry question, sharing results, and reflecting on progress. The teacher has additional software to plan and monitor the student activity.

Research Studies

Studies with school students in Milton Keynes and Nottingham are showing how science inquiry can be initiated in the classroom, supported by a teacher, then continue at home or outside with the computer toolkit supporting the learning activity and providing probes to capture and display data. A key issue identified by the trials is how to design activities that are personally meaningful and engaging, but not so personal that the students are embarrassed to share their evidence. The project is developing and administering a set of methods to assess children’s understanding of the inquiry process, attitudes and personal responses to science, and changes in knowledge of the science topics.

We aim to address the following questions:

  • How can scripted inquiry learning support effective learning across transitions between formal and informal settings?
  • How do school students and their teachers adopt a computer toolkit for learning?
  • How does the experience of scripted inquiry learning assist and change learning activities?
  • How do scripted inquiry learning activities develop children’s learning skills?

Project team

University of Nottingham: Shaaron Ainsworth, Stamatina Anastopoulou, Steve Benford, Charles Crook, Markus Feißt,Chris Greenhalgh, Claire O’Malley, Bronya Norton, Mike Sharples, Mark Paxton, Michael Wright,Yang Yang.
Open University: Canan Blake, Gill Clough, Trevor Collins, Gráinne Conole, Mark Gaved, Ann Jones, Cindy Kerawalla, Karen Littleton, Paul Mulholland, Marilena Petrou, Eileen Scanlon, Alison Twiner.

Contact Details:
Open University:

To download a PDF leaflet about the project, please click here.

Whats next for Personal Inquiry and TEL?

Further Information

Project team
Project website
Project poster
Download a recent report about nQuire

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