Posted by: eheino | April 26, 2013

Thoughts on Guided Inquiry

Guided Inquiry is a contstructivist approach to learning based around Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP). It allows targeted intervention by classroom teachers and teacher librarians at each stage of the ISP, and allows students to build deep knowledge and understanding in an area of their choice within a curriculum topic (Scheffers, 2008).

Advantages of Guided Inquiry include:

  • teacher librarians can use these projects as clear evidence of their effectiveness in student learning (Fitzgerald, 2011)
  • students gain a deeper understanding of the topic area and feel a sense of ownership of their project (Sheerman, Little & Breward, 2011)
  • students become excited about their learning (Scheffers, 2008)
  •  develops higher order thinking skills as students construct their own knowledge
  • Equips students with lifelong learning skills that can be transferred to any learning situation from primary school through to postgraduate university.
  • students accomplish five interwoven learning styles: curriculum content, information literacy, learning how to learn, literacy competence and social skills (Kuhlthau & Maniotes, 2010, p.19)
  • teachers and teacher librarians can collaborate in their teaching and assessing, and focus on different aspects of the project

Challenges/Disadvantages of Guided Inquiry include:

  • This style of learning takes up a great deal of time. With such a content heavy curriculum, these kinds of projects may be difficult to schedule
  • Teacher Librarians need flexible scheduling if they are to implement this style of learning. TLs that are employed as RFF teachers may not have time in their schedules for Guided Inquiry Learning
  • Students may have difficulty maintaining focus on a project like this if intervention doesn’t occur at the correct times
  • Students may have issues working with their partner
  • Workload for the teacher librarian increases, particularly if they are implementing multiple guided inquiry tasks at a time (Fitzgerald, 2011)
  • May not suit individual learning needs
  • Staff & Principal Support is vital for successful implementation


Fitzgerald, L. (2011). The twin purposes of Guided Inquiry: Guiding student inquiry and evidence based practice. Scan 30(1) 26-41.

Kuhlthau, C. & Maniotes, L. (2010). Building Guided Inquiry teams for 21st-century learners. School Library Monthly 26(5) 18-21.

Scheffers, J. (2008). Guided Inquiry: A learning journey. Scan 27(4) 34-42.

Sheerman, A., Little, J. & Breward, N. (2011). iInquire, iLearn, iCreate, iShare: Guided Inquiry at Broughton Anglican College. Scan, 30(1), 4-5.


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