Recommendations – the future of information-learning

“The creative process involves getting input, making a recommendation, getting critical review, getting more input, improving the recommendation, getting more critical review… again and again and again.” Unknown

The action research conducted in this ILA has offered me the opportunity to really understand the relationship between information and learning. I now appreciate the interconnected nature of information literacy (IL) and inquiry based learning and acknowledge that the real area to develop is that of questioning. “By combining the underlying concepts of information literacy with major subject area curriculum standards, Guided Inquiry prepares students” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p. 91) to collaborate passionately in order to transform their learning. The introduction of an information search process has given this action research direction.

The ILA Team Approach

This ILA was led by a three-member instructional team. We enjoyed the “synergy for sharing ideas and creatively planning and solving problems” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p. 48) collaboratively. I had initially shared Dr Cornelia Brunner’s Inquiry Process Model where the questioning framework was felt to be naturally imbedded. The use of some templates that were offered on this website enabled the students to feel more confident in their initial musings on the topic. This team approach is something that I recommend and in this ILA demonstrated to the students that we were collaborating effectively and respectfully which is seen to be a vital component to 21st century teaching and learning.

The Use of Formative Assessment

After each session that has since become known as “Peer Mentoring” across the Year 3 and 4 teams, we were often discussing things that worked and didn’t work in order to refine the inquiry process as we went. We were consciously aware of using formative assessment by “finding out where learners are in their learning, finding out where they are going, and finding out how to get there” (William, 2011, p.45) and again the roles were being refined. I was aware of my role as “resource specialist, information literacy teacher and collaboration gatekeeper” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p. 57) and see the importance of being able to access information at just the right time as vital.

We were able to see, based on survey 1 results, that there was a specific need to improve web site evaluation. We spent some time deciding what to use (Kathy Schrock, CARS, Brunner ideas) and an explicit teaching moment was led by me. This was a success but workshops in smaller groups would have been more successful, better meeting the specific needs of the individual inquiry topics. This also meant that too much time was spent on finding resources and interpreting information. Another weakness linked to time management was that after getting 3-4 weeks into the inquiry process I anticipated that to do survey 2 and then only one week later conduct survey 3 would not demonstrate an incredible difference and also, more importantly, lose valuable research time. Therefore after consultation with the teaching team decided to spend more time on the I.S.P. as it was observed that the students needed more teacher direction and support in this area. The benefit of utilising the time in this manner enabled students to complete their inquiry before the school holidays benefiting me and the teachers who have been able to begin a new inquiry in collaboration with me in Term 4.

Pre-assessments were not conducted in this ILA and could have prevented declining interest across the inquiry process. The majority of students indicated an elevated interest as seen in the ILA results which can be attributed to the freedom of material choice and the movement within the Kuhlthau’s ISP model from the exploration phase to the formulation phase where more clarity is felt and thoughts were more focused.

Successes…what worked

There are obvious aspects that were seen to be successful in this inquiry and fortunately due to initial discussions the teaching team all shared a “constructivist view of learning, team approach to teaching” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p. 52) and were enthusiastic about this opportunity to learn more about the inquiry process. There was also a shared understanding of various information seeking processes leading to strong pedagogical discussions. The use of the SLIM Toolkit ensured formative assessment was enacted upon. We were about to teach vital critical literacy skills using the CARS model when we decided that the 5 W’s of Web Site Evaluation supported our student and the Brunner Inquiry process more closely. The introduction of various search strategies was also a highlight and students were excited to be using search engines other than Google. Note taking strategies were also improved in the ILA and this skill has proven to remain strong in recent observed sessions. The collaborative teaching team approach has changed the learning community, strengthened relationships and ensured the achievement of a more personalised learning focus. Students too, were highly motivated and felt supported by working in teams. Wilson discusses this and says “when given the opportunity to choose the focus of an inquiry, students are generally more motivated and ready to keep going when faced with challenges” (2013, p.7) and this was evident throughout the inquiry. The renewed understanding not only of the physical location and use of print resources (such as encyclopedias) but the use of the OPAC was another aspect where the learning environment was personalised.

Improvements…what didn’t work

Image retrieved from Treadwell 2008 p. 204

Image retrieved from Treadwell 2008 p. 204

In this ILA there was a lot of time spent finding resources and interpreting information. Time was considered to be precious as it was a 5 week period of time we were limited to. The overload of information needed time spent on management both of time and data. After reading about how to recognise time-wasting behaviour in Activate Inquiry  by Jeni Wilson (2013, pp. 36-37) I was able to identify the procrastinators, hunters and gatherers, completion avoiders and frequent flyers amongst the class. The teaching team shared many inquiry process models and it would be interesting to visually and explicitly teach one model as we were getting ideas from two different models.(Brunner’s Inquiry Process and The N.S.W. Department of Education I.S.P.) Another aspect of improvement is that of using prior knowledge to more specifically inform teachers what the needs of individual  groups are. The use of formative assessment was innate due to the school focus on this area however consideration of self and peer feedback could have been imbedded into the assessing stage (The N.S.W. Department of Education I.S.P.) of the inquiry. Assessment during inquiry learning needs to cover “concepts, understandings, behaviours, skills and dispositions” (Wilson, 2013, p. 74) and this is supported by ACARA who uses the term capabilities. Treadwell (2008, p. 64) discusses learning dispositions to include;

  • being curious, imaginative and passionate
  • to think laterally
  • being meta-cognitive
  • to be aware of the “big picture”
  • being in/inter/dependent, critical thinkers
  • willing to modify and adapt our world view
  • able to provide reasons
  • to act in a responsible, caring manner
  • being capable and willing to be strategic
  • to be persistent

The thinking skills that underpin these dispositions “need to be explicitly taught and reinforced so that they become habits … that are applied … thoughtfully” (Treadwell, 2008, p. 64) and with wisdom. These dispositions can be mapped against the “Habits of Mind” and Bloom’s Taxonomy and if incorporated would have a multiplying effect on learning. This all begins with effective questioning.


Based upon research undertaken during the ILA there are three recommendations that would improve Guided Inquiry in the classroom. The following changes would improve and strengthen future inquiry processes; development of deeper questioning skills, an adoption of an Information Based Learning (IBL) approach and the integration of assessment strategies.

Adopting a questioning model is pivotal to learning how to learn and becoming a lifelong learner. “Questions and questioning may be the most powerful technologies of all” (McKenzie, 2005, p. 15) and coupled with new and transformational digital technologies we are in a unique time of educational change. The use of a simplistic KWL and Wonder Wall had been a great start but looking more deeply into A Questioning Toolkit (McKenzie, 2005, p. 29) in the image below you will see question types. It is strongly recommended that different questioning models be integrated into each year level. Therefore there would effectively be seven models that students would be able to refer to and bring to their learning in the senior years.

Information Based Learning (IBL) coupled with a questioning model creates a strong inquiry model. This ILA has demonstrated clearly the benefits of an inquiry approach towards deep learning. The Microsoft Partners in Learning created a 21st Century Learning Design Rubrics and this describes six important skills that students need to develop to be;

  1. collaboration
  2. knowledge construction
  3. self-regulation
  4. real-world problem-solving and innovation
  5. the use of ICT for learning
  6. skilled communication

Assessment during the ILA was through teacher-student conferecnes, observations and anecdotal records. There is an opportunity to incorporate stronger records that demonstrate evidence of student learning and the use of graphic organisers, journals and concept maps would be beneficial in the future. Checklists could be given to specific team members to record the demonstration of skills, dispositions, behaviours or capabilities that need reviewing. It would be recommended that an assessment strategy be integrated into the IBL approach. Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari acknowledge that there are “five interwoven, integrated kinds of learning” (2012, p. 8);

  1. Curriculum content
  2. Information literacy
  3. Learning how to learn
  4. Literacy competency
  5. Social skills

Through an IBL approach lifelong learning is developed and students are exposed to an engaging and challenging learning environment. The IBL approach has a focus upon social construction (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p. 27) is collaborative by nature, constructivist and learner centered – what other way is there to go forward into the next teaching and learning paradigm?


Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. (2012). Chapter 1: Guided Inquiry Design: The Process, the Learning, and the Team. In Kuhlthau, C. C. ; Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. Guided inquiry design : a framework for inquiry in your school. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

Kuhlthau, C. C.,  Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Chapter 2: The Theory and Research Basis for Guided Inquiry. In Kuhlthau, C. C. ; Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A. K. Guided inquiry : learning in the 21st century. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited

McKenzie, Jamieson. (2005). Learning to question to wonder to learn, Washington: FNO Press,

Treadwell, M. (2008). The Conceptual Age and the Revolution School v2.0. Hawker Brownlow Education. Heatherton.

William, D. (2011). Embedded formative assessment. Solution Tree Press, Bloomington

Wilson, J. (2013). Activate Inquiry: The what ifs and the why nots. Education Services Australia, Carlton South.


Action – Stations are the go!

Action is the foundational key to all success.Pablo Picasso

Research undertaken during Phase 1 of the ILA enabled me to gather important data that was used to guide and scaffold further learning. This data was shared with the learning team that consisted of the two classroom teachers and myself. Assessment “should form the backbone of your planning and inform your teaching and learning decisions” (Wilson, 2013, p. 72) so using the results from Question 5 in Questionnaire 1 the learning team was able to respond to the common needs of the cohort.  This initial survey guided what we now knew about students’ thinking, research skills and research behaviours. Commonly identified areas of difficulty after the initial survey were;

  • Researching in books
  • Using the internet
  • Using images
  • Asking questions
  • Using encyclopaedias
  • Working when noisy
Importantly “children develop higher-order thinking through guidance at critical points in the learning process” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p.25) and therefore as an extension to the normal classroom learning environment (consisting of class teachers and curriculum support staff) I was able to provide point of intervention support as required over all three phases of the ILA. This table describes the learning content, time and groupings that were used to enhance the learning process when “targeting specific areas of concern and providing intensive intervention” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p.27) and makes reference to the general capabilities and learning areas in ACARA.
Table 1 - Action taken

Table 1 – Action taken

During this inquiry process there were two main areas of responsibility; resources and internet usage.  This is supported by Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari who view the school librarian as an “indispensable member of the instructional team” (2007, p.57). Inquiry learning is  “the most challenging part of the role, requiring many skills, including intuition, insight, collaboration, flexibility and at times, enormous amounts of persistance” (Green, 2012, p.19). The information search process undertaken in this inquiry was not specific and the ILA was a busy time where small groups of students were working independently making this a perfect time to intervene and support the learning.

The Information Process (ISP) used was loosely based upon New South Wales ISP. Support was required during the locating, selecting and organising stages of the inquiry. As internet usage was the greatest area of difficulty I set about planning a whole class introduction to search engines during Phase 1 of the ILA. Demonstrations of Duck Duck Go, Quinturakids and Zuula were then presented and students had time to research in small groups or individually using computer nodes and iPads in the Discovery Centre. This lesson was followed by another informative session for the whole class based upon web site evaluation. We used Kathy Scrock’s The 5 W’s of Web Site Evaluation and made the Who, What, Why, When, Where and Why into a puzzle that groups put back together. The ICT capabilities of students has improved and can be seen graphically in the results. Using the internet was the easiest thing to do when students answered question 5 in Questionnaire 3 the second survey undertaken in the ILA.

The second area of difficulty identified from Questionnaire 1 was that of researching in books. Todd, Kuhlthau and Heinström recognise that during this time “instructional interventions typically focus on establishing information quality and relevance” (2005, p. 17) and  guided inquiry is more than just finding information. During Phase 1 and 2 I was able to directly teach students how to use the contents and index pages in non fiction materials. The students were introduced to a information, source, page (I.S.P.) graphic organiser that we used to explicitly teach referencing. There was always time made for individuals who needed support with the location of resources in the Discovery Centre. Independent student use of the OPAC was good but some reminders of the geographical book locations was needed due to the age group of the students and the fact that these students were accessing non fiction resources from the main collection not just the Junior Room, some for the first time.

The actions taken enabled students to become independent learners who were able to collaborate, make meaningful connections and respond with authenticity to transform their learning. I attended Jeni Wilson’s recent Melbourne based PD on Activate Inquiry where the idea of small workshops that students can elect to do was introduced to me. Wilson strongly links meta-cognition to self-management and inquiry. Intervention is not just teacher directed but needs to be student centred Importantly “intervention strategies that foster reflection for deep understanding and basic inquiry abilities” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p.146) are valuable and this process of professional reflection has helped me to better understand inquiry as a “messy process” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2012, p.2) and as Edna Sackson writes, inquiry can sound like chaos to those who don’t know about it!


Green, G. (2012). Inquiry and learning : what can IB show us about inquiry? [online]. Access; v.26 n.2 p.19-21; June 2012. Availability: <;dn=193381;res=AEIPT&gt;

Image retrieved from

Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. (2012). Chapter 1: Guided Inquiry Design: The Process, the Learning, and the Team. In Kuhlthau, C. C. ; Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. Guided inquiry design : a framework for inquiry in your school. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

Kuhlthau, C. C.,  Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Chapter 2: The Theory and Research Basis for Guided Inquiry. In Kuhlthau, C. C. ; Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A. K. Guided inquiry : learning in the 21st century. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited

Todd, R., Kuhlthau, C.C. & Heinstrom, J.E. (2005). School Library Impact Measure. A Toolkit and Handbook for Tracking and Assessing Student Learning Outcomes of Guided Inquiry Through The School Library. Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries, Rutgers University. Retrieved August 6th, 2013 from

Wilson, J. (2013). Activate Inquiry: The what ifs and the why nots. Education Services Australia, Carlton South.

Results from the ILA

The Results, the outcomes and my interpretation…

At the beginning of the Information Learning Activity (ILA) the students were asked to select a material to study and research the living and non living components of it. Using the School Library Impact Measure –SLIM Toolkit (Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinstrom, 2005) as measurement tool I was able to assess and track the guided inquiry process in great detail. I conducted two data collection surveys using the questionnaires were and making a change to the suggested time frame. The outcomes of this unit was tied into the ACARA  Science Curriculum. For ease of interpretation results  for questions 1, 2 and 3 in SURVEY 1 will be green and all SURVEY 2 results will be coloured in red.

Question 1 – What do you know about your topic?

In these surveys students were asked to think about what they were learning about in order to focus their thoughts and to then write down what they knew about the topic. The student responses were analysed individually and responses to question 1 from both surveys was categorised into fact, explanation and conclusion statements as can be seen below in table 1.

Table 1 - Question 1 Survey Results

Table 1 – Question 1 Survey Results

This figure clearly demonstrates an increase in all three areas. However, one difficulty when scoring facts in question 1 was that some of the students were defining the general topic of living and non living things, rather than writing verb statements to describe “what a concept is or how it is performed” (Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinstrom, 2005, p. 7). Whilst recording results for Questionnaire 1 I noticed there was only one explanation and no conclusions made. I was worried that I had not explained the questionnaire correctly or that the students didn’t understand me. Some students wrote “we don’t know” even after the initial topic launch that was conducted voiding their responses. In the image below you will see the response from Student 6 who I decided to track more closely.

Own Image - student response

Own Image – student response

For the purposes of this data analysis, Students 1 to 6 were tracked individually. The various educational, social and emotional needs of these students varies greatly and will be seen in the detailed analysis. Student 1 made one very deep explanation in Questionnaire 1 and as this student is involved in the gifted and talented program I wondered if this would make a difference to the overall outcomes of this survey. Looking at the individuals inspired me to consider the total change in learning. To look at total change in learning I added up all fact, explanation and conclusion statements from Survey 2 and subtracted the total from Survey 1. This gave me a score that was averaged into the two groups of students. Again student 1 ranked the highest across the cohort and is a confident and optimistic person. However, interestingly the scores did not match preconceived learning needs and styles of others.

Table 2 - Question 1 Ranking Sum

Table 2 – Question 1 Ranking Sum

Overall there is a general increase in all areas between questions but interestingly the greatest improvement was seen in an increased factual knowledge demonstrated in Table 3.

Table 3 - Factual Knowledge Comparison

Table 3 – Factual Knowledge Comparison

Question 2 – How interested are you in the topic?

The SLIM Toolkit questionnaire asks students to consider how interested they are in their topic and below in table 4 you can clearly see the increased student interest between survey 1 and 3.

Table 4 - Comparison of interest displayed

Table 4 – Comparison of interest displayed

The pie graphs below enable you to see clearly the changes between each survey and then finally a comparison of grouped individual interest levels based upon changes. The grey pie graph despite demonstrating a 14% decline is representative of only 3 students.

Table 5 - Questionnaire 1 Data - Interest in Topic

Table 5 – Questionnaire 1 Data – Interest in Topic

Table 6 - Questionnaire 3 Data - Interest in Topic

Table 6 – Questionnaire 3 Data – Interest in Topic

Table 7 - Changes in topic interest

Table 7 – Changes in topic interest

Question 3 – How much do you know about the topic?

This question displays student self awareness of topic knowledge. Table 8 depicts the quantitative data of student estimated knowledge on the topic. When surveyed at the end of the ILA some students wanted to make a fifth box entitled “everything”. This question was seen as formative assessment and helped me to prioritise who to track more closely and support. Overall despite the graph showing an increase in knowledge there were six students who scored the same in both surveys.

Table 8 - Demonstrates Knowledge of the Topic

Table 8 – Demonstrates Knowledge of the Topic

Question 4 – What did you find easiest to do?

Due to the age of these students results in this are were less than I expected possibly due to their age and ability to answer these questions cognitively. However the themes of information searching and usage of the internet were common across this research project. Students commonly responded to these questions in dot point and in similar ways as seen in this image. However, there were 6 questionnaires that were unable to be included due to absence during the survey 2 data collection phase. That being the case results could have been significantly higher.

Question 5 - Own image

Question 5 – Own image

The results in table 9 depict the collated student perceptions of the information search process and were broken into six common themes as seen below:

Table 9 - What did you find easy to do?

Table 9 – What did you find easy to do?

Question 5 – What did you find difficult to do?

The common themes of surrounding the information search process continued to be mentioned in the surveys. However, as can be seen in table 10 there were some significant changes that can be contributed to formative assessment strategies and discussion of this can be seen in the analysis. Again, there were four questionnaires that have been omitted in this survey due to absence and their common area of difficulty was in the area of internet usage and the strategy enlisted to elicit answers from Google. This table does not demonstrate the difficulty some groups had on staying on task. There were two particular groups whose topics changed in each session making information selection difficult due to the changing topic questions. The inclusion of work environment will be addressed in the analysis.

This pie graph does not reflect three students decline in interest levels but when looking at the raw data it was interesting to see the answers in question 5 and 6. Student 19 was not interested at all and found “nuthing (sic) hard to do” (SLIM Questionnaire 3) and interestingly stated it was because they “knew efreing (sic)” (SLIM Questionnaire 3). This student’s topic area was a common material that most Victorians study in depth and with parents who find and make holiday links to learning had selected something comfortable.

Table 10 - What did you find difficult to do?

Table 10 – What did you find difficult to do?

Question 6 – What did you learn in doing this research project? (Questionnaire 3 Survey 2)

Survey 2 used The SLIM Toolkit Questionnaire 3 and consisted of two additional questions to be answered. This second survey was conducted in a rush at terms end and enabled me to collect 25 responses. However, two students omitted this question. This question was designed to “generate a student-based summary of their learning” (Todd, p.17) and data collected did not enable me to analyse information seeking strategies rather then main self perceived learning. Answers to this question were brief and tended to fall into the following three categories.

Table 11 - Common Themes and Student Examples

Table 11 – Common Themes and Student Examples

Table 12 below depicts a clear ring with percentages, again the strength in factual information based on the evidence above can be seen.

Table 12 - What did you learn in doing this research project?

Table 12 – What did you learn in doing this research project?

Question 7 – How do you feel about your research?

The ILA ended with a particularly high sense of achievement where the presentation of findings was a whole class celebration. There was a wide variety of materials and an even broader assortment of presentation structures ranging from models, power point presentations, role plays, television news reports, brochures and experiments. When adding the confident and happy responses together there is an overwhelmingly high percentage of 95% of students who are able to demonstrate their new knowledge with passion and assurance. There was one confused student who consistently selected broad questions, displayed and reported ongoing difficulty using the internet who could have benefited from tracking.

Table 13 - How do you feel about your research?

Table 13 – How do you feel about your research?

Outcomes and Interpretations

As seen in the gallery below students were able to “share the product they have created to show what they have learned with the other students in their inquiry community” (Kulthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2012, p. 5). A clear ability to distinguish between living and nonliving things was achieved. Students were able to confidently report upon their selected materials describing a range of uses and their specific properties.This ILA was considered successful as we were able to achieve numerous ACARA content descriptors and the inquiry skills consisting of questioning, predicting and communication. Wilson accurately states that “assessment data should be used for planning and to ensure that students are actively involved in all aspects of the learning process” (2013, p. 72) and all teachers were part of the process making the learning journey a success.


Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. (2012). Chapter 1: Guided Inquiry Design: The Process, the Learning, and the Team. In Kuhlthau, C. C. ; Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. Guided inquiry design : a framework for inquiry in your school. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

Kuhlthau, C. C.,  Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Chapter 2: The Theory and Research Basis for Guided Inquiry. In Kuhlthau, C. C. ; Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A. K. Guided inquiry : learning in the 21st century. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited

Todd, R., Kuhlthau, C.C. & Heinstrom, J.E. (2005). School Library Impact Measure. A Toolkit and Handbook for Tracking and Assessing Student Learning Outcomes of Guided Inquiry Through The School Library. Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries, Rutgers University. Retrieved August 6th, 2013 from

Wilson, J. (2013). Activate Inquiry: The what ifs and the why nots. Education Services Australia, Carlton South.

Application of information-learning theories…it’s all about me!

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
Mahatma Gandhi

On a bright sunny Sunday afternoon the light globe switched on in my mind…it was finally making sense! Information Learning Nexus was finally something to celebrate. I knew that I was learning about the learning and in my opinion any new learning is challenging. As Gandhi says, we are to learn and learn and then learn some more and after suffering a cold thought I too would die with all of this new learning! Inquiry learning to me was about asking questions and finding answers and this unit has enabled me to see just how powerful this framework can be. Kuhlthau states that “Inquiry is the foundation of the information age school” (2010, p. 2) and describes Guided Inquiry to be a collaborative team approach that enables students to “meet the challenges of an uncertain, changing world” (2010, p.3). This inquiry approach has enabled me to learn; information literacy, how I learn, the course content, improve literacy and even my social skills via Facebook.

Kuhlthau’s Model of the Information Search Process (ISP) includes the following seven phases that are commonly experienced by the learner. Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari state that “learning begins with uncertainty and is driven by the desire to seek meaning” (2007, p. 17). Learning is complex and this ISP recognises feelings, thoughts and actions in which I will reflect upon. Other models have been investigated and similarities can be found between Brunner’s Inquiry Process, the Department of New South Wales ISP and The 8 Ws: Information Literacy as seen below.

The stages of these other models will be referred to at the end of  Kuhlthau’s Model of the Information Search Process (ISP) reflections.

Stage 1 – Initiation

At the very beginning of this unit my thoughts were fixated upon the spelling of inquiry versus enquiry. I know now that my sleepless nights and anxious mind was just the expected “uncertainty” that is a part of this stage in the ISP. Blogging was challenging and saw me pull out my notes from 2010 where I was first exposed to WordPress, but so much had changed – rather – so much was not really understood back then. The initial thoughts about this unit were broad and encompassed vocabulary such as the following acrynoms that were all new to me; IL, IL, ILA, ISP, KWL, KWHLAQ, GeST. I read as much as I could before the unit began but needed support in order to go forward. The weekly online collaborate sessions would give me just that! Looking back over my Week 1 to do list I can see that I was living in the dark, unfortunately there were nine things to follow up on in just that one session. I was “feeling depressed and bogged down and overwhelmed at the amount of work ahead” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p. 18).

Brunner’s Inquiry Process – Pose Real Questions

N.S.W. Department of Education I.S.P. – Defining

The 8Ws: Information Literacy – Watching and Wondering

Stage 2 – Selection

Feeling like a mushroom, I thought I was missing something. I was doing all of the readings and I was attending the online collaborate sessions but in my state of confusion I was disabled. The to do lists were growing but my ability to stay on top was zero. There were so many other things to select from and school events such as Science Week and Book Week took priority and prevented me from focusing on this topic or my ILA. This lasted for three weeks for me personally. Faced with a new topic, new concepts, new terminology, new lecturer, new work format (blogs) and new web 2 tools that were to be integrated the question of where to start was real and the uncertainty seemed to grow. After finally selecting a middle primary class to make links with, my focus changed and I felt I was getting on top of things and felt my optimism rising only to discover just how much work there was now to do.

Brunner’s Inquiry Process – Find Resources

N.S.W. Department of Education I.S.P. – Locating

The 8Ws: Information Literacy – Webbing

Stage 3 – Exploration

The exploration stage was difficult for me as my time was poor. I felt that there was so much out there to research and that narrowing it down was too hard. Often my search strings gave millions of hits and then using that same search string in another data base I would get nothing. Confused by what would and would not work soon became a frustration. This is demonstrated in my initial use of the A+ Education data base where the search string used in Google Scholar found zero results. I was “working through my own ideas and constructing new knowledge ” (ibid., 2007, p.18) and it seemed that I was now in the middle of the mushroom wondering which line of inquiry to select.

Brunner’s Inquiry Process – Find Resources

N.S.W. Department of Education I.S.P. – Locating

The 8Ws: Information Literacy – Webbing

Stage 4 – Formulation

This stage occurred while writing the Annotated Bibliography for this blog. I was so focused on my readings and summarising the main ideas and arguments that the light was not able to shine. After evaluating so many articles for their objectivity, reliability and bias I found myself using Kathy Schrock’s Five W’s of Web Site Evaluation and the CARS model when evaluating information. Thinking this is exactly what my middle school students need for my ILA I too felt I had a renewed sense of direction. When I had finished synthesising my ideas the light came on, there was renewed clarity. I was researching information on Guided Inquiry using the Guided Inquiry process. How clever!

Brunner’s Inquiry Process -Interpret Information

N.S.W. Department of Education I.S.P. – Selecting

The 8Ws: Information Literacy – Wiggling and Weaving

Stage 5 – Collection

Feeling some what relieved that the Annotated Bibliography was complete I was ready to collate my findings and write the essay. Again the complex nature of learning with the world at our fingertips was evident. I was able to break my information into three areas in order to explain the information search process that I undertook. I was suddenly writing about questioning frameworks, the search process and the ability to reflect upon the learning in a collaborative and supported environment. There was renewed confidence in myself, I knew the topic. This transpired into allocating precious time to dedicate on this blog. This increased my sense of ownership and the blog began to grow both in content and readership (albeit family and friends) I felt I was “developing expertise”(ibid., 2007, p.20) and wanted to share this in my ILA at school.

Brunner’s Inquiry Process -Interpret Information

N.S.W. Department of Education I.S.P. -Organising

The 8Ws: Information Literacy – Wrapping

Stage 6 – Presentation

This is where I find myself right now – in the Presentation Stage. I am at the end of the Guided Inquiry ISP and am now ready to share my ideas with others. The feedback from my peers has been meaningful and seeing the blogs of others grow has been both elating and deflating. As I work full time and study part time there is a part of me that is disappointed in what I have not achieved after seeing some excellent online work. This is again articulated by Kuhlthau (2007) when she describes the aspect of reflection and self assessment. My peer reviews coupled with my own desire to improve saw me edit some posts in order to better present my inquiry findings. This leads me to the success or failure image and takes me to the last stage of the Information Search Process.

Brunner’s Inquiry Process -Report Findings

N.S.W. Department of Education I.S.P. -Presenting

The 8Ws: Information Literacy – Waving

Stage 7 – Assessment

This learning process is complex and very personal and all educators know the importance of assessment. I feel that what I now know about Guided Inquiry will benefit me in my teaching. As a inquiry learning  facilitator I will be able to help others become life long independent learners. There is a “sense of accomplishment” (ibid., 2007, p.19) in seeing my work online, published to the world but with this comes an increased critical awareness where credibility, accuracy, reasonableness and support can be questioned. This Inquiry learning process has enabled far greater engagement in an authentic real world context. Success or failure is not important rather that I have been engaged in higher-order thinking processes and have been empowered to translate this into my ILA where my students and I will be transformed.

Brunner’s Inquiry Process -Report Findings

N.S.W. Department of Education I.S.P. -Assessing

The 8Ws: Information Literacy – Wishing

Table 1 - Comparison of ISP Stages

Table 1 – Comparison of ISP Stages

This table demonstrates the similar Information Search Process stages based on Kuhlthau’s Model of the Information Search Process (ISP) and have been compared with Brunner’s Inquiry Process, the Department of New South Wales ISP and The 8 Ws: Information Literacy process. There are many similarities across the processes. They are all cyclic in nature, strong in questioning and all have an aspect of assessment or reporting included. The Brunner Inquiry Process has classroom display appeal and would make an excellent visual reminder in any classroom. It seems to suit primary levels as it has a simple four level approach with simple questioning embedded into each stage of the inquiry process but lacks consideration of feelings, thoughts and actions that Kuhlthau’s model includes. The Department of New South Wales ISP also gives clear steps in the process and includes questions to support this inquiry. Consideration of the information skills used makes this model a preferred model for my middle primary students. This model focuses on quality teaching and would support formative assessment which complements cyclic learning processes. As much as I like the alliteration of the 8 Ws: Information Literacy process the renaming of the verbs to a “w” word seems counter productive and could suit junior secondary students. The roles suggested for students, teachers and technology make this a similarity between the N.S.W. model and something to consider in the ILA. Overall these models list valuable verbs and processes that will be utilised in the information search process.


Kuhlthau, Carol. (2010). Guided inquiry : school libraries in the 21st century School Libraries Worldwide, 16 (1), 1-12.

Kuhlthau, Carol C. ; Maniotes, Leslie K. & Caspari, Ann K. (2007). Chapter 2: The Theory and Research Basis for Guided Inquiry in Kuhlthau, Carol C. ; Maniotes, Leslie K. & Caspari, Ann K, Guided inquiry : learning in the 21st century, Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, (2012). Chapter 1 : Guided Inquiry Design: The Process, the Learning, and the Team. In Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, Guided inquiry design : a framework for inquiry in your school, (pp.1 – 15). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

An Essay – a synthesis of the annotated bibliography – the light has been turned on!

The investigation of inquiry based learning was a journey of questioning and has led me use and improve my information searching processes. This search process has demonstrated the complex nature of learning. The nature of inquiry is to question, find answers and then reflect upon that new learning. In this synthesis we see inquiry learning as pedagogy where “any conscious activity by one person designed to enhance learning” (Watkins & Mortimore, 1999, p. 3) will powerfully transform the way deep lifelong learning occurs. Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari recognise learning as a “holistic experience” (2007, p. 27) where there is an opportunity for teachers to differentiate and use multiple intelligences in the process. The sources referred to in the annotated bibliography support the view that an information investigation is a process.  This method involves questioning, information searching and the ability to reflect upon the process. It is a complex method that requires targeted point of intervention support. There are a variety of inquiry models to consider but all seem to have three things in common; questioning, searching and are cyclic in nature.

Guided inquiry models that I have investigated all hold questioning “at the centre of the learning experience” (Harada & Yoshin, 2004, p. 2). The recognition of effective, strong questioning was articulated by Rusche & Jason and reference made to the utilisation of questions “as a sounding board to express an original idea or undeveloped analysis” (2011, p. 340). Brunner’s Inquiry Process begins in the same way where students pose real questions. Importantly “student questions are the building block of engagement” (Rusche & Jason, 2011, p. 340) and provide educators with insight into student learning. Purnell and Harrison (2011) recognise that inquiry begins with questioning but that it is reliant upon the effective use of the process in order to develop student knowledge and skills. Green (2012) reinforces this and refers to the use of personal and authentic questions and the importance of collaborative inquiry where the teacher and student work freely.

The Information Search Process (ISP) is interwoven by nature and requires “guidance, instruction, modelling and coaching” (Kuhlthau & Maniotes, 2010, p. 18). This is supported by Green (2012) who identifies that inquiry also needs to be collaborative and guided in order to be successful. Sheermann (2011) maintains this and presents findings that demonstrate the learning gains from a collaborative project where the teacher and librarian shared similar goals. FitzGerald (2011) and Shannon (2002) refer to the Kuhlthau Model of the ISP.  FitzGerald (2011) provided detailed descriptions of how students were feeling during the process and makes reference to prior knowledge for formative assessment. Shannon (2002) shared about the inclusion of a constructivist approach where feelings influence the development of learning and that there are stages, intervention zones and mediation levels. The idea that inquiry learning is a cycle is strongly conveyed in these studies.

The readings refer to the inquiry process as a learning cycle and share common ideas of inquiry strategies and the need for teacher support. Green importantly recognises that “inquiry learning is a core responsibility for all teacher librarians. It is often the most challenging part of the role, requiring many skills including intuition, insight, collaboration, flexibility and, at times, enormous amounts of persistence” (2012, p. 19). The recognition of the Middle Years Program model of inquiry adds credence to this due to its “fluid, differentiated and non-hierarchical structure” (Green, 2012, p. 20) where students are able to freely move between awareness and understanding and move to reflection and then action. This is supported by Colburn (2000) who also sees learning as cyclic. Pernell and Harrison (2011) share the same cyclic idea but take this one step further by having a backward design process.

Guided Inquiry learning enables teachers to work collaboratively. There has never been a more important time in education where the complex process of questioning and searching can be targeted successfully through scaffolding and guidance. With a Guided Inquiry model quality learning experiences are achievable because of the targeted point of intervention, giving support for all involved. Students have ownership to produce new learning through authentic situations and teachers gain confidence to be innovators of change. FitzGerald states that “the Information Search Process lies at the heart of Guided Inquiry” (2011, p. 1). This process is essential for developing independent lifelong learners, people who are ready and able to use their creative skills when solving problems and issues. Where everyone involved can make the most of every opportunity presented to them in their life, becoming learners who have the potential to develop innovative new ideas in the future.


Colburn, A. (2000). “An inquiry primer”. Science scope (Washington, D.C.) , 23 (6), p. 42.

FitzGerald, L. (2011). The twin purposes of Guided Inquiry: guiding student inquiry and evidence based practice. Retrieved from:

Green, G. (2012). Inquiry and learning : what can IB show us about inquiry? [online]. Access; v.26 n.2 p.19-21; June 2012.

Harada, Violet and Yoshina, Joan. (2004). Chapter 1 : Identifying the inquiry-based school in Harada, Violet and Yoshina, Joan, Inquiry learning through librarian-teacher partnerships, Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Publishing, pp.1-10.

Kuhlthau, Carol C. ; Maniotes, Leslie K. & Caspari, Ann K. (2007). Chapter 2: The Theory and Research Basis for Guided Inquiry in Kuhlthau, Carol C. ; Maniotes, Leslie K. & Caspari, Ann K, Guided inquiry : learning in the 21st century, Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited, pp.13-28.

Purnell, Ken and Harrison, Allan.(2011). Inquiry in geography and science : can it work? [online]. Geographical Education; v.24 p.34-40; 2011.

Rusche, S. N., & Jason, K. (2011). “You have to absorb yourself in it”: Using inquiry and reflection to promote student learning and self-knowledge. Teaching Sociology, 39(4), 338-353.

Sheerman, Alinda. (2011). Accepting the challenge : evidence based practice at Broughton Anglican College. [online]. Scan; v.30 n.2 p.24-33; May 2011. Watkins, C., & Mortimore, P. (1999). Pedagogy: What do we know? In P. Mortimore (Ed.), Understanding pedagogy and its impact on learning. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.

Shannon, D. (2002). Kuhlthau’s information search process. School Library Media Activites Monthly, 19(2), 19-23.

Which search engine will I use?

During a recent Information Learning Nexus discussion there was reference made to numerous search engines. This was such an exciting moment where my normal list of six search engines that I refer to was stretched to a new level. After a simple Google search I discovered that there was a plethora of more age appropriate search engines available to use in middle to upper primary classes.

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Some of the discusses search engines included were:

I really liked the Word Sift search engine and found that it had some good visual word or theme brain storming abilities as seen in the image below.


Below is a link to some of my well used search engines for middle and upper primary aged students. In order to evaluate these search engines reference has been made to Kathy Schrock’s  The 5 Ws of Web Site Evaluation. After undergoing my own Google search of other ways to evaluate web sites I found an article written by Lewandowski (2012) entitled A Framework for Evaluating Retrieval Effectiveness of Search Engines  and considered results, presentation and offered a frame work for evaluating effective information retrieval. He suggest the categories seen in the table below:


Search Engine Evaluation


Lewandowski, D. (2012),  A Framework for Evaluating Retrieval Effectiveness of Search Engines 

Kathy Schrock’s  The 5 Ws of Web Site Evaluation

My Inquiry Learning Questions

“We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.” Lloyd Alexander

What is inquiry learning?

This investigation started with research from Carol Kuhlthau where she explains this process as going “beyond merely fact finding to personal understanding” (2010, p. 4). I have likened this to the getting of wisdom and wonder if this inquiry learning process is a professional model of practice that can be taught to teachers and students alike? I read Mark Treadwell‘s book, The Conceptual Age and the Revolution School 2.0 and enjoyed the chapter about inquiry learning but have not put this into practice yet. Treadwell states that “the development of inquiry is now seen as a core capability in developing a lifelong learning capability within the move to the emerging education paradigm” (2008, p. 75) and having no real experience in this area I am excited by this opportunity to learn more.

What does expert inquiry learning look like?

If inquiry is a way of learning then what does best practice look like? Kuhlthau explains that Guided Inquiry “is a research approach to learning” (2010, p.2) but that it is guided by a team to gain a deeper understanding. “Inquiry provides the opportunity to create a third space and Guided Inquiry enables students to make their own connections within the inquiry process” (ibid,. p 5-6). The idea of new knowledge being developed in the third space is exciting – does this mean the student’s background knowledge and the teacher’s mandated curriculum can be met in the middle? A perfect answer to the crowded curriculum conundrum.

How do we recognise the critical moment when we are to intervene?

The important part of this will be to ask the deep and rich questions and keep asking and stretching our researchers too – all at the right time. What will this time look like? How will I know when to do this stretch? The social construction that learning will come through isn’t limited to just us in classrooms anymore. It is important to teach wider thinking, questioning and make links to our State Libraries and even the Public Records Office. How can we guide and not give away the information? Is there a best search model to follow? I am interested in the Information Search Process (ISP) that the inquiry process described by Kuhlthau (2010) as this seems to offer deep learning and thinking but are there others to investigate? It will be interesting to reflect on this over the semester and decide if Kuhlthau, who stated, “an inquiry approach is a most efficient way to learn” (2010, p. 6) is indeed correct.


Kuhlthau, Carol. (2010). Guided inquiry : school libraries in the 21st century School Libraries Worldwide, 16 (1), 1-12.

Treadwell, M. (2008). The Conceptual Age and the Revolution Schoolv2.0. Australia: Hawker Brownlow Education.

Image retrieved from: