Guided Inquiry is a style of inquiry based on the Information Search Process of questioning, exploring, collecting and presenting information. Although the process is complex and requires guidance form a teacher or teacher librarian to finally present ideas that can be shared with others, the student is in charge of the learning.
The role of the teacher librarian is one of collaboration with the subject teacher, to be a resource specialist and information literacy teacher (Kutlthau & Maniotes, 2010). The ultimate aim is to have students be able to carry out independent study from start to finish, but students learning this skill may not have the information literacy and other skills to do this (Kellow, 2006). The TL is in the position of providing the information literacy skills as well as helping to provide the resources for the study.
There are six stages of learning in the inquiry process including
• Initiation or opening the inquiry
• Selecting a general topic
• Exploring for background information and ideas
• Formulating a focus
• Collecting and analysing information
• And presenting or organising the information to be presented.
Kuhlthau & Maniotes (2010) have also added a seventh stage of Assessing or reflecting on the learning.
The TL and teacher must be aware that younger learners will not have the skills to search effectively for resources in books or on the internet. There will be much time wasting, so some sort of scaffolding must be provided. The topics should meet the curriculum standards and the abilities and interests of the students. The teacher librarian should be able to provide resources from the library or databases and teach and support the students to locate more information, evaluate the information to suit the topic and use the information.
The inquiry may be set up with all students working on a similar project or parts of the project to be put together at the end, or in my case a subject, Student Directed Inquiry (TQA,2013), where the students choses the topic of their interest and this is assessed as a final subject in Year 12. The teacher and librarian will need to have a basic knowledge of all subjects but will be able to support and direct the student to expand knowledge in a controlled and thoughtful manner.
The teacher and librarian should be able to teach and assess the student but notice when they need help. The teacher or librarian need to be aware that confusion and uncertainty will arise and the student will need direction to move from one stage to the next. Nicola’s reflections (Sheerman, Little & Breward, 2011) show that she went through stages of “confusion and desperation” from all the information that was available, but that the teachers and librarians guided her every step of the way, but she felt excitement and anticipation as she neared the final product and she found that it was the most “fulfilling piece of work ever completed”.
The outcome of the inquiry should be that the student will have a deep understanding of the topic, should be rewarding and form the basis of gathering and using information in all topics of research. The teacher and librarian should form a strong collaborative team to guide students in this information process.
Kellow, J.-M. (2006). Guided Inquiry. Retrieved 09/ 07/, 2013, from Inquiring Mind: http://www.inquiringmind.co.nz/Guided_Inquiry.htm
Kuhlthau, C. K. & Maniotes, L. K. (2010). Building Guided Inquiry Teams for 21st Century Learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18.
Sheerman, A., Little, J., & Breward, N. (2011). iInquire…ILearn…iCreate..iShare : Guided Inquiry at Broughton Anglican College. Scan, 30(1), 4-5
Tasmanian Qualification Authority (TQA). (2013, August 6). Student Directed Inquiry. Retrieved September 7, 2013, from http://www.tqa.tas.gov.au/4DCGI/_WWW_doc/184594/RND01/SDI315113Course_document.pdf