Education is a multidisciplinary field in which scholars employ a wide range of research methodologies to explore the most pressing challenges in education, yet that complexity can present a barrier to researchers narrowly focused on a single area of expertise.

That prompted the University of Washington College of Education to create its inquiry sequence course three decades ago. The course, taught over two quarters, provides every doctoral student at the College a common experience around the diversity of educational research and encourages them to think about what is possible in their own scholarship.

In a new podcast, two professors who have co-taught the course for more than a decade, Deborah Kerdeman and Philip Bell, discuss its role in preparing better researchers, how it builds community among doctoral students at the College and more.

Kerdeman, who recently retired after leading the inquiry sequence for 30 years, noted that at many education schools, different research methodologies often sit in separate siloes. The inquiry sequence, Kerdeman said, aims to break down those siloes.

“We hear our students say ‘This is how you can have a conversation between methodologies. This is how I can collaborate on a deeper level to improve my work because I have a better understanding of another methodological approach’,” Kerdeman said. “And this is something that is rather distinctive about the University of Washington College of Education.”

In socializing doctoral students into the field of education research, which spans the sciences and humanities, Bell said it’s essential to understand the full terrain.

“I can remember all sorts of people who show up [to the inquiry sequence] and their horizons for doing research just get broadened,” Bell said. “You get people thinking through different possible ways of piecing together understanding of education phenomena.”

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Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications