Guided Inquiry

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and Australian School Library Association (ASLA) (2009) in their statement on Guided Inquiry (GI) and the curriculum describe how the adaption of GI “helps students to construct meaning, think creatively and solve problems”.

Implementing a GI approach is a key role of the 21st century Teacher Librarian (TL). With this approach and the adaptation of new technologies into the school curriculum, TLs can work as a catalyst to the implementation of this relativity new learning styles.

GI is based on Kuhlthau’s (2004) extensive research into the Information Search Process (ISP) and is a form of the constructivist approach to learning, which is has an emphasis in modern pedagogy. According to Kuhlthau and Manitoes (2010, p. 19) a team consists of three members and should include both TLs and teachers, along with an expert in the learning topic area. The teams composition is core to the implementation of the ISP approach. The team guides students through curriculum based inquiry units with monitored and targeted involvement, with the aim of developing the students’ knowledge and understanding of the selected topics. This is an important component of the development of the students independent learning skills.

According to Kuhlthau (2010) GI is not an occasional or optional project, rather it is based on continual assessment and evaluation projects throughout a unit of work. GI is a way to develop the students’ capability of gaining essential skills and knowledge by learning from various resources. It seems GI is a well suited approach to supporting students as prospective lifelong learners who are required to adapt in a rapidly shifting information environment. .

Fitzgerald (2011) provides very interesting and informative study cases from her school. Even though GI is not incorporated across the entire school curriculum the study shows remarkable results e. GI is an ideal way to achieve student development goals as it is a collaborative process in which TLs and teachers work together to negotiate various aspects of the curriculum.

Evidence provided by Fitzgerald (2011) clearly shows how collaboration between TLs and teachers plays an important roll in the creation of inquiry units and ensuring students have a successful research experiences. Furthermore this research suggests information literacy is a key element of the students development as they work through the inquiry units. Students do not have difficulty locating information, but locating and filtering appropriate information is is a much less simple task.

Todd, Kuhlthau, and Heinstrom (2005, p 12) point out that it is impossible for TLs to facilitate the whole process on their own without collaboration with teachers and other experts. Therefore this collaboration is crucial in order for TLs to work across all disciplines in a school as an expert in knowledge and information literacy.

Implementing a GI approach in the school may be challenging, however GI is a perfect way to prepare students with the capabilities and competencies of lifelong learners that will meet the requirements of the 21st century.


Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and Australian School Library Association (ASLA)(2009) Statement on guided inquiry and the curriculum Retrieved September 4,2012 from

Fitzgerald, L. (2011). The twin purposes of Guided Inquiry: guiding students inquiry and evidence based practice. Scan, 30(1), 26-41. Retrieved September 2, 2012 from

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2004). Seeking Meaning: A process Approach to Library and Information Services. 2nd ed. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Kuhlthau. C. C. (2010) Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century Retrieved September 2, 2012 from

Kuhlthau, C. C., & Maniotes, L. K. (2010). Building Guided Inquiry Teams for 21st Century Learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18-21. Retrieved September 2, 2012 from

Todd, R. J., Kuhlthau, C. C., & Heinstrom, J. E. (2005). SLIM a toolkit and handbook for tracking and assessing student learning outcomes of Guided Inquiry through the school library, Centre for International Scholarship in School Libraries at Rutgers University. Retrieved August 30, 2012 from


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