Pace Leads Westchester & NYC Schools in Inquiry Practices to Boost Student Achievement

“But who says that the essential question has an answer? The essence of man is to be a question, and the essence of the question is to be without answer.” –Elie Wiesel, The Town Beyond The Wall

Improving instruction through meaningful inquiry and reflection is the core of the Pace Inquiry Learning Collaborative, and was the essence of the presentations of its Teaching and Learning Conference held on May 19 at the Graduate Center.

Supported through New York State’s Teacher Leader Quality Partnership Program grant funding, the Collaborative connects School of Education and Dyson faculty to secondary teachers from a variety of schools, subject and experience levels to promote collaborative student-teacher inquiry learning. Inquiry learning is the process of engaging in a mutual process of questioning, ‘evidence gathering’ and reflection. Nearly 40 teachers from Bronx High School for the Visual Arts, Early College High School, Millennium High School, Peekskill High and Middle schools, and Sleepy Hollow High School participated in the program and most shared the results of the work at the Conference.

Mohsen Shiri-Garakani, PhD, Professor of Physics, from Dyson College of Arts & Sciences, was a guest at the evening’s presentations and spoke to the group about his impressions of the level of research these teachers had undertaken in their own classrooms. “Great minds work similarly,” he said, noting the many common threads among the teachers, despite their content and grade level differences.

Increasing the ability to analyze and creating independent thinkers were among the common themes, he said. He was very impressed by what he saw presented, he said, and left the educators in the audience a few words of guidance. “At the beginning of a new idea, ask yourself ‘how are you going to assess your success? ‘to inform your teaching and learning.”

The School of Education’s Interim Director of School Partnerships Frank DeLuca, EdD, also shared his compliments with the teachers on their research projects. He found that all of the teachers shared an excitement and passion for their work, as evidenced in their projects and presentations. That passion, he said, is what sets a good teacher apart from a great one. “Without passion,” he said, “Without that sense of engagement yourself, you can’t engage students actively.”

For more information about the Pace Inquiry Learning Collaborative, please visit or contact Dr. Clayton at