Implementing A Guided Inquiry Approach
There is no doubt that the role of the teacher librarian (TL) has vastly changed over the last decade with the introduction of computers and easy access to the World Wide Web into the majority of schools (Herring, J., 2007, and Johnson, J., et al. 2009). The Information Process (ISP) advocated by the NSW Department of Education and Training (2007) is the springboard for this text. The ISP is the framework upon which teacher librarians in NSW are encouraged to plan and implement lessons for students. A brief explanation of the research and theory that has led to the adoption of this framework will be explored and how it links into implementing a Guided Inquiry approach.
Constructivist Approach To Learning
“Constructivist teaching is based on the belief that learning occurs as learners are actively involved in a process of meaning and knowledge construction” (Audrey, G., n.d., p.1). This statement is based on the premise that learners come to the learning situation with some prior knowledge of the topic. The teacher librarian’s role is to tap into, engage with, stimulate and build upon this knowledge, in order to encourage the learner to be academically dynamic and involved in the learning situation. The learner is no longer seen as submissively receiving information from a teacher but actively engaged in making meaning.
Implementing A Guided Inquiry Approach
In February 2009 the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) adopted the Guided Inquiry approach to teaching students because it encouraged creative thinking, problem solving abilities and was based on the learner constructing meaning and knowledge. Guided Inquiry is structured on a collaborative teaching approach, whereby classroom teachers and the teacher librarian deliberately and methodically plan lessons which, build upon the scaffolding of previous knowledge 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” (Todd, 2010, p.7). From their research and knowledge of Guided Inquiry and based on over two decades of solid research Kuhlthau (2010) and Todd (2010) developed the Information Search Process (ISP) model which is deeply embedded in the constructivist approach to learning.
There are seven stages of inquiry in the ISP model: initiation, selection, exploration, formulation, collection, presentation and assessment. Learning from one stage is built upon as the student works through each stage. The role of the teacher librarian is to provide digital and print resources to support the learning process and to work collaboratively with the classroom teacher in implementing engaging lessons.
I “fell” into the role of TL about four weeks ago. The school was looking for someone to be TL to fulfil RFF requirements and relieve the Assistant Principal who was currently doing this job. Not knowing much about what this role involved I did a search and found the Information Process that the NSW Department of Education and Training (2007) encourage. By defining this model with my Principal about how I would approach being a teacher librarian, I got the job! It has been fascinating to undertake reading in this area to ascertain why and how this model has been produced. This is an area of focus that I would like to further develop and eventually implement as teacher librarian.
Australian School Library Association. (2009). Statement on guided inquiry and the curriculum. Retrieved from Australian School Library Association website: http://www.asla.org.au/policy/guided.inquiry.curriculum.htm
Gray, A. (n.d.) Constructivist Teaching and Learning [ETL501 Part 1]. Retrieved July 20, 2012 from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL501_201260_W_D/page/a3f259ea-c828-4e4f-80ec-26eee70de0c7
Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: Charting new directions in information. (pp.27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
Johnson, J., Cooper, R., & Johnson, A. (2009). Introduction to teaching: Helping students learn. (pp. 241- 280). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16, (1), 17 – 28.
NSW Department of Education and Training, (2007), Information skills in the school. Retrieved from NSW Department of Education and Training website:
Todd, R. (2010). Curriculum Integration: Learning in a changing world. Victoria: ACER Press.