Appreciative Inquiry: Beyond the Apple’s Applications for Education

There’s a lot of interest in Appreciative Inquiry and its application for educational change.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) was designed by David Cooperrider as a strategic planning tool; its applications in an educational setting are creating a lot of excitement.

Here’s Beyond the Apple’s introductory discussion about Appreciative Inquiry with a focus on education.

If you and your colleagues are interested in educational change, here are some videos and  articles that provide some opportunities for a shared or jigsaw reading and follow up discussions.

1) First, be aware that there’s bound to be an initial skepticism about the AI approach. Sarah Lewis addresses this well.


2) In Case Study of a School Wellbeing Initiative: Using Appreciative inquiry to Support Positive Change, Waters and White (2015) provide a deeper look at the tenets of Appreciative Inquiry (the Four Ds: Discovery, Dream, Design, Destiny) and how they can be applied to school change. This is a good foundation on which to build staff discussions about change initiatives with impact.

3) We found the next article in The Center for Appreciative Inquiry’s August, 2016 newsletter. You and your colleagues may enjoy Todd Conkrite’s  Transforming Human Rights With The Right Questions . While Conkrite writes about AI’s applications to the world of human resources, the application of his ideas to teaching staff are obvious.

As a problem solving process, Appreciative Inquiry’s strength is in how it changes one’s perception of the problem and how the problem solving process proceeds. AI requires a shift in thinking:


focusing on and fixing a problem


identifying and then building on what’s been accomplished.

This shift in thinking has, quite honestly, renewed many educators’ passion for teaching because it requires a teacher to really know the student and to search through the student’s written, oral, physical, or artistic work for information that answers the questions, “What does this student have under control?” and “How can we build on that foundation?” The answer to these two questions creates a framework of building on accomplishments rather than fixing what’s wrong. It seems to be a simple shift, but in practice, it’s dramatic.

That’s not to say that AI sees the world through a lens of sunshine and lollipops; in fact, AI begins with capturing a real world view – it’s how that real world is described that makes the difference.

Here’s an example of how an Appreciative Lens captures the real world of an elementary student’s writing:

Moving from elementary school to high school, here’s a conversation with an 18 year old student was convinced he could not and never would read. By adopting an appreciative lens, the teacher acknowledges the concern, but begins the problem solving process by gathering information about the student and what he knows. From that foundation, the path to reading success begins.

So that’s a good start for a few professional conversations about the application of Appreciative Inquiry to education. There will be more soon.

For more conversations about education, please visit us at Beyond the Apple . . . Reframing Conversations in Education  or contact us at









About Beyond The Apple

Beyond the Apple provides everything a Professional Learning Community needs! Designed to follow Beyond the Apple's Tenets of Adult Education, our videos re-ignite the excitement of professional conversations among educators in the classroom, university, colleges and professional training. Our free teaching and learning resources provide a follow up with more information that is current, research based and practical.
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2 Responses to Appreciative Inquiry: Beyond the Apple’s Applications for Education

  1. Pingback: Re-framing Conversations About Disengaged Students | Beyond the Apple

  2. Pingback: Re-imagining our teaching practice: how do we begin? |

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