In my dissertation project on writing stories containing conflict, I did a lot of journaling and research. At one point, as I note in Creating Juicy Tales, I “had the impulse to draw in the right margin [of the journal] four short streaks, one each in the red, blue, green and purple of “four color analysis” created by Carol Welsh and implemented by myself with [freshman] composition students (Welsh & Gillam, 2000). The practice of four color analysis facilitates access to William Torbert’s (1991) four “territories of human experience” so as to get in touch with more ways of knowing than one might otherwise be aware of. The four territories–intuition and feelings (red), conscious reasoning and facts (blue), embodied action and story (purple) and outcome or impact on the outside world (green)–are important in Torbert’s Action Inquiry method for transformative learning and change by way of paying attention to all four territories rather than simply through the often limited one or two ways a person may habitually experience life (Torbert, 1991; Fisher & Torbert, 1995). Torbert’s ideas fit well with the extended ways of knowing found in Cooperative Inquiry. In fact, John Heron recommends using Torbert’s Action Inquiry during the individual action cycles in Cooperative Inquiry (Heron, 1996, p. 8), as noted in chapter 2 of this book.

However, I had decided against including Action Inquiry as part of the methodology, since it felt like too much direction from me as the initiator. On the other hand, because “4-color reflection,” as I thought of the process and usually called it, had been so useful in teaching college composition and in other areas of my life, I began to feel increasingly drawn to using it as a personal reflection tool in comprehending more deeply my individual action process in this [dissertation project] Cooperative Inquiry.


Fisher, D., & Torbert, W. (1995). Personal and organizational transformations: The true challenge of continual quality improvement. London: McGraw-Hill.

Heron, J. (1996). Cooperative inquiry: Research into the human condition. London: Sage.

Torbert, W. (1991). The power of balance. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Welsh, C., & Gillam, J. (2000). Four-Color analysis: Applying Torbert’s four territories in the classroom. In C. Wiessner, S. Meyer, & D. Fuller (Eds.), Proceedings of the third international conference on transformative learning. Challenges of practice: Transformative learning in action (pp. 47-49). New York: Columbia University Teachers College, Center for Educational Outreach & Innovation.


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