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Inquiry ARC

The Inquiry ARC project will focus on enhancing students’ critical thinking through participation in academically rigorous experiences that involve inquiry, application, reflection and communication.

Although an inquire-apply-reflect-communicate experience may be present in a variety of forms in many courses at UNC Asheville, the QEP will provide professional development opportunities and other support to help educators enhance their students’ critical thinking throughout this experience. 



Inquiry ARC logoUNC Asheville's Quality Enhancement Program (QEP), Inquiry ARC, centers on improving critical thinking through activities of inquiry, application, reflection and communication.  

The concept began as part of the university's SACS accreditation review in 2010, when a team of faculty, staff and students led by Dr. Mary Lynn Manns began a process in soliciting feedback through surveys and other venues to ultimately identify critical thinking as a shared priority on our campus.  The resulting 2012 Inquiry ARC SACS Report was enthusiastically received by the SACS review team in spring 2012.  The implementation of the project began in fall 2012 by a group of twelve pilot faculty.

It is our hope that by the 2017 SACS review, the Inquiry ARC initiative will have made a significant impact on our students' capacities for critical thinking.  While students will learn these skill-sets for the most part in an academic context, they are also broadly transferable to range of life experiences and situations. Inquiry ARC further reflects UNC Asheville’s dedication to providing an education that empowers students for active and meaningful futures marked by a love of learning and the intellectual and emotional capacity to be “seriously creative” throughout their lives.




A student talks to other students about the Inquiry ARC programThe focus of the UNC Asheville QEP is on enhancing critical thinking through participation in academically rigorous projects that are carefully mentored, student-driven, and shared with others. The framework for these academically rigorous projects is titled Inquiry ARC and is described as follows:

Inquire (I)  - The process of identifying an issue or concept to explore in a project.  It is a question-driven search for understanding that requires asking relevant and probing questions from multiple perspectives and gathering information from a variety of sources (literature, experts, communities, or individuals).

Apply (A)  - The process of designing and implementing a project that is identified during inquiry and results in a product (e.g., oral presentation, paper, film, poem, experimental design, marketing campaign, installation, program, or musical composition).

Reflect (R)  - Reflect refers to the practice of periodically reviewing, evaluating, and deepening learning.  

Communicate (C)  - Communicate refers to the process of sharing what one has learned orally, visually and/or in writing. 

Events — Spring 2014

Critical Thinking in Your Classroom Workshop – KH 232

Friday,  January 31 (3:00pm - 5:30pm, with reception following in the Laurel Forum)

Critical thinking is the focus of our Quality Enhancement Plan and a vital component of our liberal arts education at UNC Asheville. You want to include “critical thinking” in your classroom, but what does this really mean you should or could do? And, have you ever asked yourself, “how can I teach critical thinking when I have so much content to cover”? This seminar will help with these and other challenges—it will introduce a collection of classroom exercises that promote critical thinking as a way of teaching and helping students gain a richer understanding of course content.

Mary Lynn Manns recently attended the Critical Thinking Institute in Berkeley, California and came away with a wealth of information from instructors in many different disciplines who are incorporating critical thinking into their classrooms. She held two seminars in the summer and fall to share some of what she learned and, just in time for the start of the spring semester, this is a repeat performance. Come prepared to think about your thinking!

Seminar will begin promptly at 3:00... we have a lot of thinkin' to do!  Refreshments will be served.  Please RSVP to Annis Lytle so we can get a headcount for the food.  

Roundtable & Reception – Laurel Forum
Friday, February 21 (3:30pm - 5:00pm)
Join experienced staff and faculty who will briefly discuss their work with Inquiry ARC and the teaching of critical thinking. A question and answer period follows the presentation with plenty of time for informal conversation. This is another opportunity to learn more about what we do and how we can make a difference in our teaching of critical thinking. Location: Laurel Forum.  No registration required, but if you would let Annis Lytle know if you expect to attend, it will help us in planning refreshments.

2014-15 Application Cycle for Inquiry ARC courses and extracurricular experiences

Thursday, January 30 through Friday, February 8
Open to all UNC Asheville staff and faculty. I’ll be in touch with more details regarding applications, but this is your chance to formally join Inquiry ARC for academic year 2014-15. See for more information, and keep us in mind as you plan for next year!

More Information

Find out more about the Inquiry ARC program, including minutes from recent team meetings and ways that students, faculty and staff can participate in the program:

Inquiry ARC website

You can also contact the Director of the Inquiry ARC program:

Lorena Russell, Ph.D.
Director, UNC Asheville’s Inquiry ARC | 828. 251. 6594
CPO #2130, Department of Literature & Language

Last edited by on January 27, 2014