Appreciative Inquiry

It’s amazing what you can learn when you jump into a forum discussion in this course!

When I first joined the forum discussions, Ashley’s topic was appreciative inquiry.  I hadn’t heard of the term before, but the following information from Cooperrider caught my attention:

Problem Solving Appreciative inquiry
1. “Felt Need,” identification of Problem 1. Appreciating & Valuing the Best of “What Is”
2. Analysis of Causes 2. Envisioning “What Might Be”
3. Analysis & Possible Solutions 3. Dialoguing “What Should Be”
4. Action Planning (Treatment)
Basic Assumption: An Organization is a Problem to be Solved Basic Assumption: An Organization is a Mystery to be Embraced

Appreciative inquiry attempts ask questions and envision the future to foster positive relationships and build on the given potential of a person, organization or situation.

I came to use an appreciative inquiry activity in my class in a roundabout way.  I had attended an outdoor camp with my son last year when he was in Grade 6, and the closing activity was called: Rock, Stick, Leaf.  In quiet reflection (followed by sharing if they wanted), the kids were asked to think about three things they experienced over the 3-day camp: something they loved that ‘rocked’, a new thought or experience that they would try to keep up or make ‘stick’ once they returned home, and a thought or habit they were going to try to ‘leave’ behind.  The ideas they shared in the middle of the woods that day were insightful and genuine.

I mentioned this experience to a friend, and she replied that it sounded like “I like, I wish, I wonder”.  Intrigued, I did a google search and discovered this was actually an instructional strategy.  As an introductory activity on the first day of my Level 2 class, I had 3 post-it notes ready for each student, labeled: I like, I wish, and I wonder.  I asked them to focus on the Level one course they had just completed, hearing loss, or communication-related topics and gave them 5-10 minutes to complete the task.  They shared their ideas.

Without any real guidance, the students generally talked about what they appreciated most about the first-level course (like), their hopes for what skills they would come out of the Level 2 class having learned (wish), and about their dreams for future hearing loss research and the desire to eliminate communication difficulties due to hearing loss.  It was a very positive activity, and we all felt we were on the same page going forward into a new course.  I will continue to do this version of appreciative inquiry on the first day of future second level courses.

Another class activity we focus on is problem-solving various communication problems. Perhaps I can use appreciative inquiry here also.  Instead of focusing on the problem, we can, alternatively, focus on what is already working, and discuss how to expand on that. This positive philosophy is worth investigating.




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