Circle of Inquiry


RembrandtThe Circle of Inquiry is designed to assist users in applying critical thinking skills to the case studies found on the Rembrandt web site. These critical thinking skills can be applied when presenting Rembrandt’s works to students. They can be easily integrated into classroom lessons in order to motivate students to apply higher order skills when examining Rembrandt’s works, specifically, and art in general.

In designing the web site, several models of inquiry were used. These included ones by Clark, Broudy, VTS (Visual Thinking Strategies by Housen and Yenawine), and Feldman. Ultimately, the one which is most frequently used in the project is based on the work of Edmund Feldman. In addition, here are some more critical thinking skills that may be used when engaging students in art.

In essence, critical thinking begins with strategies for posing questions and sustaining dialogue. In this framework, students are encouraged, first, to look at the art and identify and describe what they see. This is followed by analyzing art which prods students to further develop visual observation and perception skills. Next, students move up to interpreting what they see, bringing their own meaning-making into the process. Finally, students are asked to draw conclusions about the work of art, determining if the artist was successful in communicating ideas.

How to Use the Circle of Inquiry

Run your mouse over each of the four categories of the Circle of Inquiry. When this is done, sample questions that can be used to develop this particular critical thinking skill will pop-up. The list is not exhaustive. You may add your own questions as you engage students in investigating a work of art.