GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Comhairle Choitcheann Teagaisg na h-Alba

The 'How' of Practitioner Enquiry

By linking enquiry into student learning to teacher learning, teachers can gain an understanding of what it is they need to learn to improve outcomes for students and have a compelling reason to engage [in practitioner enquiry].

(Temperley, Parra & Bertanees (2009:120))

Within professional learning, enquiry is a tool to support practitioners to interrogate and improve their practice to have a positive impact on the learning of their students.

There are many different enquiry methods. Here we offer four which you may wish to try out as part of your professional learning, to find which works for you to improve the attainment or achievement of your students.

The four frameworks are:

Professional enquiry

This framework was adapted by GTCS from a framework produced by Fearghal Kelly. The series of questions helps to prompt your actions at each stage of enquiry.

What's the problem?

Define then redefine your problem - make sure what you think is the issue is the issue!

How does it fit in?

How does it relate to local and national curriculum and assessment policies? 

What's already known?

Using Education Source - EBSCO - literature review

How will you tackle it?

What are we actually going to do?

How will you know what happened?

How do you measure a change?

What's the plan?

What's the situation now?

Implement the idea

What happened?

What data did you collect?

What does that tell you?

What have you learnt?

How are you going to change your practice?

How will you share?


  • needs to know?
  • would like to know?
  • can also learn from your enquiry?

Spiral of Inquiry

This method of enquiry has been developed in British Columbia by Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser and the network they have supported (Network of Inquiry and Innovation).

Spiral of Inquiry

Spiral of Inquiry

Lesson Study

Lesson study is an enquiry method used extensively in Japan to research and improve an area for development in students' learning.

Lesson Study

Action Research

Action research can be defined as research carried out within your practice to improve pedagogy to support student attainment and achievement.

 Action Research


Action Research



University of Edinburgh

Education Scotland