Posted by: eheino | April 28, 2013

Blog Task 2: The Role of the TL in Implementing the Guided Inquiry Approach

One of the most important roles of a teacher-librarian is preparing students for lifelong learning. Guided Inquiry follows a constructivist approach to learning, based on the Information Search Process (ISP) developed by Carol Kuhlthau (Kuhlthau & Maniotes, 2010). A Guided Inquiry approach involves a collaborative team of teachers, including the teacher-librarian, guiding the research process for students, and providing targeted intervention at each stage of the process where needed. This approach engages students in meaningful educational experiences and equips them with transferable skills for lifelong learning. The teacher-librarian’s information literacy expertise is vital to student success in Guided Inquiry learning at every stage, from planning, to execution, to assessment.

Guided Inquiry leads students through the six stages of learning defined in the ISP: Initiating, Selecting, Exploring, Formulating, Collecting and Presenting, along with the seventh stage, Assessing, added in Kuhlthau’s Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century (Kuhlthau & Maniotes, 2010). It also accounts for the feelings of students at each stage of the project through the use of the School Library Impact Measure (SLIM) toolkit or Skinny toolkit, by making both students and teachers aware of their emotional changes throughout the inquiry (Scheffers, 2008). Following this process allows students to develop their competencies and deepen their knowledge across five integrated types of learning: curriculum content, information literacy, learning how to learn, literacy competence, and social skills (Kuhlthau & Maniotes, 2010).

Guided Inquiry is a complex and multi-faceted task so it is crucial that teachers form collaborative teams, allowing each teacher to focus their expertise in particular areas. Kuhlthau recommends that a core team of three be created, including the teacher librarian and two other teachers of varied expertise (Kuhlthau & Maniotes, 2010). During the planning stage, classroom teachers focus on the curricular outcomes, while the teacher-librarian locates appropriate resources for students to use, and creates a webquest to lead students to appropriate websites for their research. During implementation, the teacher-librarian should primarily focus on ensuring students achieve information literacy and ISP outcomes within the task, with a secondary focus on social skills (Kuhlthau & Maniotes, 2010). It is vitally important that the teacher-librarian scaffolds students at the stages in the ISP where they cannot proceed without difficulty (Fitzgerald, 2011). The teacher-librarian is the team member best suited to this task due to their expertise in information literacy. Students should also have access to their own scaffolds at each stage of the inquiry to guide them through the process (Sheerman, 2011). Classroom teachers should mark the final result of the guided inquiry process, whilst the teacher-librarian’s assesses the process itself. Cross marking allows the teacher-librarian to see the impact that the process has had on the final product (Fitzgerald, 2011).

Students no longer need to know how to store and regurgitate information. They do, however, need to know how to locate, utilise, synthesize and interpret information and adapt it into new organisational formats. A Guided Inquiry approach to learning, led by the teacher-librarian, gives students the opportunity to develop higher order thinking skills and deeper knowledge and understanding of the curriculum than they would otherwise receive from a standard research task.


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. (2011). Accepting the challenge: Evidence based practice at Broughton Anglican College. Scan, 30(2), 24-33.



  1. […] Heino, E. (April 28, 2013). Blog Task 2: The Role of the TL in Implementing the Guided Inquiry Approach. In A Maze of Discoveries [Blog Post]. Retrieved from:… […]

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