inquirED Blog 

Research, resources, and reflections on inquiry-based teaching and learning.

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What is Informed Action?

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

There has been a tremendous movement towards using inquiry in elementary social studies curriculum and instruction thanks to the C3 Framework. You can read more about the C3 Framework and Inquiry in Social Studies here.


In this post, we will explore dimension four of the C3 Framework, which requires students to communicate and critique conclusions — and take informed action. Specifically, we will discuss how inquirED defines informed action.


Students take Informed Action when they use the key findings from a sustained investigation of content to design and implement an action that impacts the world in a meaningful way. Informed Action serves a purpose beyond assessing what students know or don't know — it helps students transform their content knowledge into action and connect it with their lived experience.


Informed action requires students to use what they've learned to inspire, change behaviors, solve a problem, or serve an audience.


We like to use the Venn Diagram above when we talk about informed action, because it displays how Informed Action is the "sweet spot" between just "being informed" and just "taking action" When students are in that sweet spot, the challenge, purpose, and audience of student action come together to create meaning and deepen learning.


If students are only informed during an inquiry, they might pursue an Inquiry Question, but only be challenged to show their understanding to their teacher for a letter grade on a test or deliverable. And if students only take action, then their challenge might be limited to participating in an activity that’s vaguely related to their learning, even if they are addressing a public audience.


It’s not that there’s no purpose for a test, stand-alone project, or activity; during an inquiry, they can serve a valuable purpose to assess learning, engage students, and check for understanding. But these can’t be the point of an inquiry.


When an inquiry promotes informed action, however, the point becomes clear and resonates with students. They identify a challenge that is informed by their learning and addresses a real-world problem—one that matters to their community and connects to their lived experience. Their audience is outside the classroom as well, whether it’s students in a different grade or outside their school building. While they may receive a grade, the grade isn’t the point of their action. Students are trying to have an authentic impact on the world.


The real world connection is powerful, making learning more engaging, and content more memorable.