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Tom Wilson

All About Practice-Based Inquiry® 

Foundation Elements component of Practice-Based Inquiry ®

The three Foundation Elements are the heart of the conceptual structure and technology of Practice-Based Inquiry.

Dynamic Evidence

Visit evidence is based in the school in real-time. It is a team member's verbal representation of a small segment of the actual life of a school or the structure or context in a school. In team discussions, admissible evidence is limited to what team members actually see and hear or read about the school during the short time they are there.

Collecting accurate evidence is essential to the visit. It provides the grist for the substance of the team's conclusions. It demonstrates the level of the team's understanding of the school. It ensures the reader that the team has the basis to support its conclusions. It prevents the team from engaging in self-indulgent exercises.

Because of the nature of what a visit studies—complex action in a complex institution in real time—–the definition of evidence is imprecise, dynamic and complex. The definition of evidence is deliberately not precise and static so as not to distort that complexity for the team member collecting it.

For more about Dynamic Evidence, click here for Catalpa's PBI Guide: How to use the PBI Foundation Elements.

Professional Judgment

Professional judgment is what a practicing practitioner brings to bear when she makes a decision about what action is best for her to take with a student (client). Good judgment includes her formal knowledge and connects her practice to what she has learned from her actual practice.

To make sense of the complex, dynamic patterns of evidence that represent the real life of a school, teams must rely on their individual judgments and their collective, corporate professional judgment.

By making explicit and direct use of professional judgment, the team controls its own understanding of why it is writing a conclusion. This serves as a brake on perceptions that would introduce bias into a discussion and lead the team astray from the evidence at hand.

The maxim of English inspectors, "Know what you see, not see what you know," goes to the heart of how professional judgment works in an inquiry. The collection of evidence, the team's deliberations of that evidence and the requirement for deliberated consensus agreement—all refine and check the judgment of the individual team members and the judgment of the team, as a whole.

For more about Professional Judgment, click here for Catalpa's PBI Guide to How to use the PBI Foundation Elements.

Team-Deliberated Consensus

Every person on the team must agree that a conclusion meets the tests of accuracy and importance and that the report meets the tests for a report. When writing conclusions, team members agree to practically every word they chose to use.

Deliberated Team Consensus is the element that ensures the rigor of the inquiry and the legitimacy of a team's findings. In addition, Deliberated Team Consensus strengthens the team's collection of evidence and its use of professional judgment.

This Catalpa guidance document for team chairs provides further detail about how to build Deliberated Team Consensus.

For more about Professional Judgment, click here for Catalpa's PBI Guide to How to use the PBI Foundation Elements.

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