The Role of Descriptive Inquiry in Building Presence and Civic Capacity

  • Carol RodgersEmail author


This chapter explores the relationships between inquiry, presence, and civic capacity in teaching. More specifically, it looks at the critical skill of descriptive inquiry, its place in the larger scheme of reflection, and its role in the cultivation of presence and civic capacity. Drawing largely on John Dewey and Patricia Carini, I explore two modes of inquiry in which presence might be cultivated and civic capacity developed: the descriptive review of children and children’s work (Himley and Carini 2000; Carini 2001; Rodgers 2006b), and descriptive feedback (Rodgers 2006b). I claim that the discipline of descriptive inquiry is a means of acknowledging and drawing upon the vast capacity of all teachers and learners, as human beings, to shape their individual and collective experience.


Presence Inquiry Description Civic capacity Reflection 



I wish to acknowledge the students who so graciously agreed to share their work. I also want to acknowledge the immensely helpful feedback from my colleagues, Claire Stanley and Kathleen Graves, on an earlier draft of this chapter. My grateful thanks also to Miriam Raider-Roth and James Garrison for their very thoughtful and provocative reviews of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Theory and PracticeUniversity of Albany, State University of New YorkAlbanyUSA

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