Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Communities of inquiry pedagogy and consequenti...

Electronic data

  • 2021lowerphd

    Final published version, 1.14 MB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY-NC-ND: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

Communities of inquiry pedagogy and consequential transitions in professional education: An action research project in an undergraduate law course

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Michael Lower
Publication date2021
Number of pages233
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Research about practitioners’ application of the Communities of Inquiry pedagogy (‘CoI’) in professional disciplines is often unclear about:
(a) how CoI contributed to the development or better understanding of practice;
(b) how reflection on practice contributed to the development of the literature on how CoI is enacted in practice; and
(c) the theory of professional learning adopted.
This thesis reports on a three-cycle action research project in which I enacted CoI across several iterations of my undergraduate teaching practice in legal education. My analysis draws on Beach’s concept of learning as a consequential transition to examine how CoI can facilitate students’ struggle to establish themselves as lawyers.
Within each research cycle I generated evidence concerning student perceptions of how I supported progress through the inquiry process and the forging of their emerging identity as lawyers. Data were generated from interviews, student survey responses and a teaching journal. Interim analysis of this material at the end of each cycle informed the design in later cycles.
The core findings are that the teacher, research postgraduate students trained to act as facilitators and students need to collaborate to provide the teaching presence needed for the successful enactment of CoI. This collaboration, and the virtues it requires, are inadequately depicted in Garrison’s CoI model (Garrison, 2016). Furthermore, I argue that authentic assessments and appropriate ‘framing’ of student work as a contribution to knowledge play a key role in facilitating students’ consequential transitions.
This research contributes to the CoI literature by highlighting the need for teachers to skillfully create a system of inter-locking levels of support for student inquiry as an important element of teaching presence. It contributes to the consequential transitions literature by emphasising the importance of a rich ecology of relevant social relations and of engaging students in authentic assessments and knowledge production.