by Jean Simonneaux, Laurence Simonneaux, Lucas Nedelec, Grégoire Molinatti (École Nationale de Formation Agronomique, France / University of Montpellier, France)
How to explore in classroom a question that has potentially several answers? How to investigate socio-scientific topic based on different types of rationalities, provided by different types of sources? How to think and organize an educational process about it? How to deal with the uncertainties, the complexity and the acuteness of this topic?
These educational challenges get us to think an inquiry process adapted to socio-scientific issues teaching and consequently to SSIBL activities. Regarding to the specificities of that kind of questions (open-ended, making visible risks and uncertainties, emotional dimension, multidisciplinary, etc.), we differentiated it from the inquiry based-learning science education.
Démarche d’enquête: choosing the terms…
Literally, the French expression démarche d’enquête can be translated as “inquiry process”. But this translation creates a risk of confusion: the term “inquiry” is already meaningful because it is related to the classical inquiry-based learning model (“investigation” in French). Finally, we chose to keep the terms in French to make it clearer. Moreover, “enquête” also refers to the translation of the Dewey’s title book Logic: The theory of inquiry (Logique: la théorie de l’enquête, in French) which is one of our main inspirations.
As in inquiry based-learning methods the démarche d’enquête also refers to the notion of experience (Dewey, 1938) but the difference lies in inquiry as an experience lived by the students as an exploration of a continuously unstable environment. In the survey process, the future is more important than the past, the approach is proactive and not retroactive (Ladage & Chevallard, 2011), as in a scientific review. Moreover, the démarche d’enquête is a specific approach first by the nature and the structuring of the steps of exploration of the question.  In this approach and as it can be seen in its graphical representation, a spiral-learning approach is essential, and the different inquiry stages need to return to the problem regularly. Students have increased responsibility identifying questions and problems and in the choice of the resources to be mobilized. The teacher is responsible for the construction of the pedagogical situation defined here by  a variety of devices rather than by the solution.
The Démarche d'enquête
Figure: The Démarche d’enquête
Finally, in this paradigm the process is considered as more important than the result.
We identify five steps (that are in fact items and not chronological steps) in the démarche d’enquête:
  • collection and analysis of the information,
  • reflexivity and subjectivity of the investigators,
  • explicitness and construction of reasoning,
  • possible answers and actions,
  • report of the inquiry.
The démarche d’enquête can begin with almost each one of these items (except the “report of the inquiry”), or one or several of them can be emphasized during the process considering the aims and the scholar environment of the applied-context inquiry. Inside the circle, we propose some pedagogical devices that can be mobilized during this inquiry. The list of these devices is still open, and every pedagogical tool can be used if it helps to implement the paradigm of this open-ended approach.
The main interest of the démarche d’enquête is to permit the autonomy and the flexibility of the teachers and the students during the activity, and at the same time to give to them a coherent guideline and toolbox to organize their exploration. During the first round of SSIBL TPDs in our two institutes, for the first time we proposed to the teachers to implement it. The first feedbacks that we have had since that moment are very positive: the démarche d’enquête seams to be helpful for teachers in socio-scientific issues teaching. The next implementations and first feedbacks from classrooms will continue to build and to ameliorate the approach. Indeed, some educational interrogations are still sensitive challenges for us, for instance concerning the way to manage in classroom the emotional dimension of certain very hot topics or the way that teachers will assess this “démarche d’enquête” with respect of the principles of citizenship (participation, transparency, social justice…).
At Enfa in May 2016, in-service teachers working in groups from the same agricultural high school institute for the démarche d'enquête that they will implement in classroom next year.
At Enfa in May 2016, in-service teachers working in groups from the same agricultural high school institute for the démarche d’enquête that they will implement in classroom next year.
Dewey, J. (1953). Logic: The theory of inquiry (1938). The later works, 1–549.
Ladage, C., & Chevallard, Y. (2011). Enquêter avec l’Internet. Études pour une didactique de l’enquête. Éducation & Didactique, 2(5), 85-115.

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