The TL and the role in implementing a Guided Inquiry approach

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:

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



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2 responses to “The TL and the role in implementing a Guided Inquiry approach

  1. leefitz

    Hi Lizzie,

    This is a well written passage on Guided Inquiry, which needs to be updated with the book on GI written last year by Kuhltau, Maniotes and Caspari, entitled Guided Inquiry Design: A framework for Inquiry in your school. This book has considerably expanded the practice of GI, by introducing alongside the ISP, a set of verbs describing what students do at each stage of the inquiry. They are Open, Immerse, Explore, Identify, Collect, Create, Share and Evaluate. These are very comprehensible to students. Alongside this are central concepts like The Third Space, Inquiry communities, Inquiry circles, and the 6Cs. It’s a very useful book. I think you also underplay the role of the TL in GI – it’s as equal partner with teachers, so that you will be involved in the creation of the task, its execution, in providing feedback to students, both during and at the end of the unit. It’s very exciting!

    Hope this helps.

    Lee FitzGerald
    ETL401 Subject Team.

    • This updated book looks like a good read, better than articles. I like the new verbs because they explain in language that would appeal to the students, especially if they were given this as scaffolding for their research.
      At present I am not in the position to work closely with the teachers, but I would like to, so much more rewarding for the librarian to know that they are an important part of the school.
      The book needs to be on my Teacher Reference shelves – to be borrowed of course!

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