Guided Inquiry is a planned and supervised process which aims to guide students through curriculum based inquiry units that build deep knowledge and deep understanding of a curriculum topic, and gradually lead towards independent learning (Kuhlthau & Todd).
Guided Inquiry is grounded in the constructivist approach to learning and is based on extensive studies of the Information Search Process (ISP) developed by Kuhlthau in 1985. (Kuhlthau & Maniotes, 2010)
Guided Inquiry, which has been described as a journey by Scheffers, is a process that allows students to learn to think for themselves, make decisions and develop the skills and expertise that they will be able to use in further situations within their lives. It allows students the opportunity to become actively engaged in their own learning.
Examples of Guided inquiry in practice in schools like Broughton Anglican College (Sheerman, 2011) and Caddies Creek Public School (Sheffers, 2008), provide evidence of the positive results that can be achieved through this process.
Guided Inquiry involves 7 key stages of learning that are used to guide students through the researching process. These are Initiation, Selection, Exploration, Formulation, Collection, Presentation and Assessment.
A key component leading to the success of such a program (and further proven through the examples written about by Sheerman and Sheffers) is the importance of collaboration. These positive results were only possible due to the collaboration of a team of teachers working together to assist the students involved. For Guided Inquiry to work effectively there is a need to advocate for a whole school change, where all staff are involved, and providing a whole team approach to learning. The vital role of the teacher librarian as an active member in the teaching and learning team was also apparent. Kuhlthau (2010) describes Guided Inquiry as providing scope for a ‘synergy of ideas’ (p.19) as it allows teaching team members to share their expertise, and share planning, teaching and supervisory roles.
Collaboration can also include individuals outside the school with the possibilities of community members and other experts who can offer students even further information (Kuhlthau, 2010, p19). This allows for the learning experiences to be real, allowing links to the ‘wider world’ and making this approach a more significant experience for students.
What is the role of the Teacher Librarian in regards to Guided Inquiry? The ISP model allows the Teacher Librarian to be both a teacher and resourcer of the curriculum. By working with the teaching team, classroom teachers may learn more about Information Literacy from the Teacher Librarian (therefore fulfilling the role of TL as school leader) and the Teacher lIbrarian will also be able to assess student’s on their information literacy skills (Kuhlthau and Maniotes p20).
Collaboration, being so important in the Guided Inquiry approach, may mean TL’s are required to put in the ‘hard yards’ in order for every one within the school to see that the approach is of benefit to students. In schools, where teacher directed learning is the norm, it may be difficult to change some teacher’s opinions and allow them to lose some control typical of teacher directed instruction. The evidence shows that Guided Inquiry is a beneficial approach for most students, allowing for even lower ability students to achieve (Sheerman, Little & Breward, 2011,p 4).
Kuhlthau, C. & Todd, R. accessed icwc.wikispaces.com/file/view/Guided+Inquiry.doc
•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.
•Sheerman, A., Little, J., & Breward, N. (2011). iInquire… iLearn… iCreate… iShare: Guided Inquiry at Broughton Anglican College. Scan, 30(1), 4-5.