What Is Shared Inquiry?

Shared Inquiry™is a method of teaching and learning that enables people of all ages to explore the ideas, meaning, and information found in everything they read. It centers on interpretive questions that have more than one plausible answer and can lead to engaging and insightful conversations about the text. And it is based on the conviction that participants can gain a deeper understanding of a text when they work together and are prompted by the skilled questioning of their discussion leader.

In this type of discussion, each participant engages in an active search for the meaning of a work by reading closely, asking questions and discussing actively. Discussion leaders provide direction and guidance in order to get participants thinking, listening, and responding to questions and answers from others in their discussion groups. The participants in the group look to the discussion leader for questions, not answers.

There are five key guidelines to engaging in a successful Shared Inquiry discussion.

  • Participants must read the selection carefully before the discussion.
  • The goal of the group is to discuss the ideas in the text and explore them fully.
  • Participants should support interpretations of the text with evidence from the work.
  • Everyone needs to listen carefully to the other participants and respond to them directly.
  • The leader is there to ask questions rather than offer his/her own interpretations of the text.

Fine Tune Your Discussions With Help From Our How-To Videos

Our how-to videos will help existing Great Books groups brush up on discussion skills, and introduce new participants to the benefits of using Shared Inquiry. These videos provide strategies and best practices for facilitating rewarding discussions, as well as highlighting some common problems many book groups face. They’re short so you can take a look at them whenever you have time!

Shared Inquiry Handbook