Learning in the Division

With so much information available, understanding and mastering the process of inquiry can seem like an overwhelming task. Don't know where to start? Before you explore, make a plan! Our Culture of Inquiry Model offers guidance for developing a step-by-step plan of inquiry which should:

  • Ensure effective use of resources and data
  • Maximize collaboration with relevant parties and stakeholders
  • Inform future efforts and ground decision-making in relevant data
  • Assist you to determine your current skills, discover relevant resources and plan for your goals

Before you begin, determine your starting point by self-evaluating your skills. This interactive tool will help you identify your current skills, determine what or who may be your best resources, and help you frame a plan for achieving your goals and developing your inquiry purposefully.

Culture of Inquiry Model

Learning in the Division of Student Affairs is promoted through the Culture of Inquiry Model. Created collaboratively at OSU, we encourage use of this model for development inquiries and competencies within student affairs assessment.

View Culture of Inquiry Model



Inquire Purposefully

1. Determine what information is necessary to move forward.

Determine what information is needed to move priorities forward according to the department's priorities, as well the vision of the university and division.

2. Develop a relevant question.

Develop a question that is relevant to the aforementioned priorities, and provides meaningful information for stakeholders. Consider the scope of your question relative to what is already known throughout the university and in the literature. Weigh the costs of the investigation against the importance of gaining an answer.

3. Determine the process to be used to investigate the question.

How will the question be answered? Determine the process that will be used to investigate the question, considering feasibility, time constraints and potential IRB requirements.


1. Review relevant knowledge and information around the topic.

Review of relevant knowledge and information around the topic from previous investigations, both from literature and locally on campus.

2. Identify or create appropriate methods for data collection and analysis.

Carefully consider the best ways in which the data could be obtained, take opportunities to collaborate, and being with a plan.

3. Collect data.

Collect data according to the plan you have created. Make appropriate adjustments as needed. Always consider ethics, commitments, resources, collaborators and best practices in data collection, as well as potential biases.

Analyze and Interpret

1. Engage in data analysis.

Reflect on all data collected — make meaning that considers students as central stakeholders.

2. Complete a comprehensive review.

Involve stakeholders where appropriate in order to understand data within the context in which the information was collected. Compare to benchmarks and national standards.

3. Construct meaning from data.

Reflect upon what your data means in the context of the original inquiry. Was the question answered? Think critically about what this knowledge brings to your department and your future inquiries.

Share Information

1. Identify stakeholders.

Report findings to stakeholders and participants and consider to whom else the information would be useful. Follow ethical and socially just principles around sharing information, including framing.

2. Frame interpretations of data to make meaning for stakeholders.

Consider your audience. Present the data most relevant to those receiving it, and in a highly accessible and engaging manner. Consider creating reports in tandem with stakeholders.

3. Construct meaning from data.

Identify and implement the best from a variety of methods available for accurate communication to interested parties. Examples include:

  • Written Reports
  • Executive Summaries
  • Informational Seminars and Outreach
  • Virtual and Interactive Displays
  • Video Blogs
  • Posters and Visual Depictions (infographics)

Take Action

1. Based on results, determine necessary changes or interventions.

Let your results guide the planning process for taking action. Determine interventions needed and weigh options against urgency and costs. Utilize data analysis, interpretation, and stakeholder feedback to determine an evidence-based framework for creating change.

2. Develop strategies and allocate resources to implement change.

With the needs of the organization in mind, negotiate various stakeholder input and examine the current landscape of available resources. Prioritize use of existing resources, leveraging existing systems, and collaboration with units. Create a plan for resource allocation.

3. Determine if actions were effective.

Use the Culture of Inquiry Model framework to determine whether the actions implemented were effective and to inform subsequent planning and decision-making.