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Research Teams


Counseling Psychology

Education Psychology and Research

Scientific Partnership for International Research on Inquiry Thinking (SPIRIT)

The Scientific Partnership for International Research on Inquiry Thinking (SPIRIT) is a partnership of interdisciplinary researchers from the fields of Science, Cognitive Psychology, Child Development and Science Education and early childhood practitioners. The group is under the direction of an interdisciplinary faculty Sally Blake, Denise Winsor, Don Franceschetti, and Sandy Brown Turner from the University of Memphis.

Research Goals

Goal 1: To investigate the influences of school environments (populations, settings, and measures) on the development of inquiry reasoning in children and teachers.

Goal 2: To investigate the complex process of inquiry reasoning in children across diverse cultures and teachers’ understanding of inquiry teaching in Diverse Cultures.

Goal 3: To develop the research agenda for the Barbara K. Lipman Early Childhood School and Research Institute to include an International Inquiry Research Institute  where research and development for teacher training, investigations into the nature of Inquiry in children, and a program to model inquiry teaching will be established.

Research Questions

  • What variations in indicators of inquiry reasoning do young children exhibit when investigating school environments that support the inquiry process?
  • To what extent is Inquiry Reasoning evident in students across diverse learning environments (populations, settings, & measures)?
  • What variations indicators of inquiry teaching and environments do teachers of young children exhibit   that support the inquiry process (populations, settings, & measures)?
  • How do educational professionals across science and education disciplines believe Inquiry should be used when teaching science?
  • What levels and forms of Inquiry teaching are evident in diverse educational programs?

Collaborative Activities:

  • Develop teacher training and teaching modules for early childhood educators with a focus on science,
  • Develop a course based on these materials for ECE pre-service teachers,
  • Develop in-service training for teachers,
  • Revise national science expectations and evaluation for pre-school programs, and to
  • Seek competitive grant funding from National and International funding sources.

Interested students may contact:

Dr. Sally Blake:

Dr. Denise Winsor:

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Last Updated: 6/11/14