MYP Design Cycle & Guided Inquiry

While writing my blog post YES to Guided Inquiry, I came to the conclusion that “Inquiry learning” and associated models – such as Guided Inquiry (GI) – are wonderful theoretical frameworks for us to study and get excited about, but then we have to get realistic and implement them in our very-much-not-theoretical schools. Our schools serve a number of masters already and we are not free to abandon them at random to be loyal to another.

My school, for example, is an IB World School where we offer the IB’s

Middle Years Programme (MYP). The IB’s approaches to teaching and learning document states that “The IB approaches to teaching skills are… based on inquiry.” Can GI then be implemented in the MYP curricular framework? For this investigative exercise I chose the MYP Design subject, more specifically a simplification of the Design Cycle (MYP DC) as inquiry framework.  Can this work? Let’s compare and see:


This comparison was a very good idea! The two processes are clearly very similar, and the comparison illuminated gaps in both approaches:

  • The DC does not have a corresponding “Open” phase. On reflection I wonder: Is this really part of the Inquiry process? Or is this just a strategy with which teachers launch an inquiry unit?
  • The Immerse and Explore steps from GI are jointly identifiable as part of the Investigate phase in the DC, as are Identify and Gather. These more explicit steps can successfully expand the DC Investigate step and provide needed scaffolding and “guiding”.
  • What is not as explicit in GI, is development of a clearly formulated design plan.
  • The DC does not include a phase for sharing, a clear shortcoming in an age where learning and inquiry is decidedly social and collaborative in nature.

By merging the two processes a more focused and guided learning experience can be designed. Through this comparison my understanding of both these approaches have grown and elements from both will be included in the future design of inquiry units.

NOTE on 11 May 2018: Since writing this post I have started to plan the required Inquiry Unit for ETL401 Assessment item 3 and I have learnt that there is a more current version of the MYP Design Cycle. In the updated version the 4 phases have been renamed.


Investigate -> Inquiring and analysing

Plan -> Developing Ideas

Create -> Creating the solution

Evalute -> Evaluating

This does not change the conclusions I reached much: Guided Inquiry is still the best IL to fit with the Design Cycle, but I can map the corresponding stages of the two processes slightly differently, and in my opinion showing an even better corrolation. In the ETL401 Ass 3 inquiry unit this version will be used for accuracy.



About the IB’s programmes. (n.d.). Retrieved May 5, 2018, from

Approaches to teaching and learning in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme. (n.d.). Retrieved May 5, 2018, from

Design. (2014). Retrieved May 5, 2018, from International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme Subject Brief website:

International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). (2013). Learner profile. Retrieved May 2, 2018, from

International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). (2014). Approaches to teaching and learning in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme. Retrieved May 2, 2018, from

Maniotes, L., Kuhlthau, C. C., & Caspari, A. (n.d.). Guided inquiry design. Retrieved May 5, 2018, from

MYP curriculum. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2018, from International Baccalaureate website:

Programme model. (n.d.). Retrieved May 5, 2018, from MYP: From principles into practice website:

Wocke, G. (2018, May 2). YES to guided inquiry [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:


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2 thoughts on “MYP Design Cycle & Guided Inquiry

  1. That’s a really interesting comment about the “Open” phase. And I love to see you taking the theory and seeing if it will hold up in practice.

  2. Liz, thank you again for reading through my musings. I am very interested in what your view is about the “Open” phase of GI. Do you see this as part of the inquiry, or just a teaching strategy? I cannot come up with a better alternative, because one must capture their attention and and get them inquisitive…

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