Exploratory Practice (EP) is a process that involves using classroom activities as investigative tools to explore areas of learning and teaching. The goal of EP is to help teachers (and potentially learners) investigate puzzling aspects of their teaching and learning situations in a collaborative, reflective and exploratory manner. The seven steps involved in EP, as identified by Allwright and Lenzuen (1997) and Allwright (2000) are as follows:
Step 1: Identifying a puzzle: This step involves finding something puzzling in a teaching and learning situation. Instead of seeing it as a problem, it is framed as a puzzle to encourage exploration.
Step 2: Reflecting upon the puzzle: This step involves thinking about the puzzle in order to understand it better, without taking direct action. Reflection is an important part of EP, as it encourages teachers to think critically about their practice.
Step 3: Monitoring: This step involves paying special attention to the phenomenon that is puzzling the teacher, in order to understand it better. This can be done by keeping notes, observing and listening to learners, or through other methods.
Step 4: Taking direct action to generate data: This step involves generating additional data, if needed, by using classroom activities such as group work, rather than standard academic data-collection techniques. This allows teachers to collect data in a naturalistic setting.
Step 5: Considering the outcomes reached so far, and deciding what to do next: This step involves reflecting on the data collected so far and deciding whether further action is necessary. This can involve adjusting expectations or taking a critical pedagogic stance.Step 6: Moving on: This step involves deciding on a course of action, such as discussing with students, protesting about the state of affairs, or taking a critical pedagogic stance and moving toward transforming the educational system.
Step 7: Going public: This step involves sharing the benefit of the exploration with others, in the form of workshops, conference presentations, or publications. It also involves seeking feedback from others to help improve practice.
These seven steps are flexible and subject to change with experience. EP is a continuous process of reflection and exploration, which encourages teachers to become more reflective practitioners and better understand the needs of their learners.