This post begins with the author’s understanding of guided inquiry learning and then proceeds to a discussion of the teacher librarian’s role in the implementation of this model. It concludes with a reflection on how this is impacting within the author’s primary school setting at this point in time.
Lupton (2012) and Kuhlthau (2010) lead me to the conclusion that inquiry learning is a cyclical process that involves asking questions and then locating and using information in a way that promotes individualised and deep understanding for the learner. It incorporates traditional information literacy and information seeking processes but goes a step further with increased learner involvement in the definition and direction of the research cycle. The guided inquiry model adds teacher guidance to this mix and the focus and direction of the research cycle becomes a shared decision. Ongoing guidance throughout all stages of the cycle enables the learner to focus and achieve depth of learning.
Lupton (2012) argues that the traditional information literacy models initiated and maintained by librarians lack an underlying pedagogical and curriculum design framework. She suggests that inquiry learning which includes questioning frameworks and an action research cycle provides a more educational sound foundation for the development of information literacy. This shift in focus is being echoed throughout the currently changing information landscape which includes our school libraries. It is also being touted by professional bodies such as the Australian School Libraries Association. It is clear that a qualified educator such as the teacher librarian will be needed to implement the inquiry learning model in any setting. Our expertise as teachers and as information specialists positions us as the obvious choice.
Kuhlthau (2010) emphasises the role of teacher librarians as agents of change who are redesigning schools to foster student learning using 21st century skills such as inquiry. To bring about such change she sees it as imperative that teacher librarians operate as collaborative partners who work as part of an instructional team.
Inquiry is embedded throughout the new Australian Curriculum (Lupton 2012 ). Parts of this curriculum become mandatory in NSW in 2014 therefore I have begun the journey toward implementing a guided inquiry approach to learning at my school. Initial discussions with the school community have sparked an abundance of questions and calls for guidance. Some perceived challenges include availability of funding, time, suitable resources and training for teachers. The general consensus is that we would like to view and experience some examples of best practice in guided inquiry for primary schools, especially for younger students. As the resident information expert and in the interests of advocacy it is crucial that I, the teacher librarian, take a leadership role in finding, organising and presenting this information. It is also a perfect opportunity to model to the school community this real world example of the inquiry process in action.
In conclusion it is clear that a guided inquiry based model of learning is one backed by a sound pedagogy. The implementation of such models will be a collaborative effort and perhaps a work in progress at this moment in time for many school communities across Australia. The transition presents the teacher librarian with an opportunity to showcase the multifaceted nature of their role and perform as an agent of change sharing their expertise in a collaborative role to enhance student outcomes.
Australian School Library Association. (2012). Statement on guided inquiry and the curriculum. Retrieved from Australian School Library Association website: http://www.asla.org.au/policy/Guided-inquiry-and-the-curriculum.aspx
Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16, (1), 17 – 28.
Lupton, M. (2012). IL is dead, long live IL! In Inquiry learning and information literacy. Retrieved from http://inquirylearningblog.wordpress.com/
Lupton, M. (2012). What is inquiry learning? In Inquiry learning and information literacy. Retrieved from http://inquirylearningblog.wordpress.com/
Lupton, M. (2010). Inquiry skills in the Australian curriculum. Access, 26(2), 12-18.