Appreciative Inquiry

‘The Seeing Project’ uses ‘Appreciative Inquiry’ as the primary exploration method for all workshops. This form of engagement encourages active conversation between teacher, parents and children.

What is Appreciative Inquiry?

Appreciative Inquiry is about the purposeful search for the best in people, in situations and in places. It invites us to explore our strengths, successes and best practices through story, to learn from them and then to use that learning to reach for our greatest hopes and dreams.

Appreciative inquiry is strength-based and possibility-orientated. It is collaborative and conversational in style, building confidence and motivation in the group. It invites us to co-create aspirational images of the future, the organisation or the place that we want – and then to apply the learning gleaned from our stories (from our own experience) to make them happen. It unleashes the positive potential within people and situations through attention and focus on their positive core.

Drawn from: ‘Appreciative Living’ by Jacqueline Bascobert Kelm pp3-4. For additional information on Appreciative Inquiry visit the Case Western Reserve University AI website at or

How does Appreciative Inquiry work?

Appreciative Inquiry achieves effective learning by drawing out and sharing participants’ existing strengths, successes, experience and knowledge through:

  • Creating a series of carefully crafted, and positively framed questions that invite ‘high-point stories’ from people’s own experience.
  • Inviting people to respond – to share their stories and memories- in their own words from their own experiences.
  • Encouraging detailed description of the situation or the place including recall of positive feelings and emotions.
  • Framing early questions to identify children’s existing knowledge and extent of architectural memory.
  • Framing later questions to expand thinking and open possibility.

What are the benefits?

  • Confidence building
  • The ‘Appreciative Inquiry’ methodology allows everyone to express what they know and say what they think - without judgement.
  • Creates a safe learning environment
  • Everyone’s experience valid.
  • Fosters creativity
  • Thinking skills

Appreciative Inquiry encourages development of participants’ innate creativity. The approach creates a learning experience that is highly enjoyable for children, teachers and parents alike. Everyone is free to express their opinions and ideas in their own language, from their own perspective, without censorship or being told they are ‘wrong’.

Useful Links:

Appreciative Inquiry
The children really enjoyed working together and no-one was cast in the spotlight which can sometimes happen. Emotional barriers were overcome and self-consciousness was eradicated very quickly.

Mrs Edel Connolly
P3 class teacher, Long Tower Primary School, Derry