Inquiry-based Research Models

The Big 6 vs. The 8 Ws of Information Inquiry

The Big 6

The Big 6 includes the following steps:

1. Task Definition
1.1 Define the problem
1.2 Identify information needed

2. Information Seeking Strategies
2.1 Determine all possible sources
2.2 Select the best sources

3. Location and Access
3.1 Locate sources (intellectually and physically)
3.2 Find information within sources

4. Use of Information
4.1 Engage (e.g., read, hear, view, touch)

4.2 Extract relevant information

5. Synthesis
5.1 Organize from multiple sources

5.2 Present the information

6. Evaluation
6.1 Judge the product (effectiveness)
6.2 Judge the process (efficiency)

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The Super 3

The Super 3 is a precursor to The Big 6 that is used for young children as a problem-solving method. The steps to The Super 3 include:
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The 8 Ws of Information Inquiry

The 8 Ws of Information Inquiry include the following steps:

1. Watching--observers of the environment (exploring)

2. Wondering--brainstorming, discussing, and reflecting on questions, concerns, and ideas (questioning)

3. Webbing--locating information, choosing relevant resources, and organizing information (searching)

4. Wiggling--looking for clues, ideas, and perspectives in information; evaluating the quality of information (evaluating)

5. Weaving--compare information from sources, select useful information, cluster information in categories, and determine the best way to communicate ideas (synthesizing)

6. Wrapping--packaging the ideas, solutions, and communications in order to determine why the info is important, who needs to know it, and how to communicate it (creating)

7. Waving--publishing part of the project; share ideas, seek feedback, try out new approaches (communicating)

8. Wishing--reflecting on the project and considering possibilities for the future (assessing)

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Comparing The Big 6 and The 8 Ws of Information Inquiry

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The Big 6 and The 8 Ws of Information Inquiry have many similarities, including:

  • identifying the problem/task at hand
  • the importance of evaluating resources and selecting useful information
  • reflecting on the final product

Differences between the two include:

  • The 8 Ws includes a focus on reflecting on the surrounding environment as an initial step
  • One step of the 8 Ws includes publishing, seeking feedback from others, and trying new approaches
  • The Big 6 also has The Super 3 model, which is more appropriate for young students

Our preferred model is The Big 6 because it is used more universally, includes a model for younger students, and includes terminology that is age-appropriate. By being the most commonly used inquiry model, we feel students would benefit more from The Big 6 because they may encounter it in other schools they may attend. Also, the terminology The Big 6 uses is more appealing to older students, but still includes appropriate material for younger students. While the steps to The 8 Ws of Information Inquiry are appropriate for any age, the name for each step may be negatively received by older students. Furthermore, with The Super 3 being provided as a precursor to The Big 6, it seems natural to choose The Big 6 as a district-adopted model for inquiry-based research.