The NexGen Inquiry® platform has been developed by Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) based on research findings that show optimal learning of science occurs through a process of inquiry. VAEI developed and utilizes "QPOE2®", a mnemonic planning and instructional framework for scientific investigation and discourse that provides scaffolding to guide students through scientific inquiry. QPOE2® expands the commonly known and widely used POE: Predict, Observe, and Explain. The platform includes a similar framework to support the implementation of Engineering Practices. As designed by VAEI:
- Q is for Question. Instruction is organized around relevant, important, interesting, and ethical Questions that can be tested empirically. Questions are generated by both the instructor and the students.
- P is for Prediction. The Prediction is the expected outcome of an investigation at a given point in the process. Prior knowledge and experience is activated, represented, and used to help formulate the Prediction.
- O is for Observation. Students gather and organize data using their five senses (qualitative Observations) and counts or measurements (quantitative Observations).
- E The first E is for Explanation. The focus is on students making sense of their Observations. They summarize, clarify, and defend. Student Explanations provide a claim based on evidence and supported by sound reasoning. (The three components: claim, evidence, and reasoning parallel the construct as developed by Toulmin, Krajick, and McNeill.) Breaking Explanations into components can help students create cohesive arguments.
- E The second E is for Evaluation. Students self-assess the quality of their research skills used in gathering data. Students are guided through the Evaluation of QPOE2® with a series of Questions, such as "What are the possible sources of error?” "How confident are you in your results?" and "What would you do differently next time and why?" But Evaluation does not occur only at the end of an investigation. Students are guided through an Evaluation at every stage of QPOE2®.
QPOE2® components are supported with intermediate steps to engage students in:
- Knowledge Probes – Accessing and engaging personal prior knowledge (Personal Knowledge Probe) and/or seeking additional information from secondary sources (Secondary Knowledge Probe)
- Investigation Planning – Developing the steps used to conduct scientific inquiry by employing fair test design.
- Data Analysis – Working with collected data to provide evidence to support the claim. (The three components: claim, evidence, and reasoning parallel the construct as developed by Toulmin, Krajick, and McNeill.) Breaking Explanations into components can help students create cohesive arguments.
- Application – Using newly constructed scientific knowledge and understanding to find solutions to real-world problems. The software includes an Engineering Design organizer to scaffold and support student engagement in engineering practices.
NexGen Inquiry® software includes teacher-planning tools that incorporate additional dimensions of scientific practices through the creation of a Socially and Language-Rich Environment, and a focus on scientific Habits of Mind.