Final Reflection…what do you think?


“Inquiry implies involvement that leads to understanding. Furthermore, involvement in learning implies possessing skills and attitudes that permit you to seek resolutions to questions and issues while you construct new knowledge.” (Education Broadcasting Association)

Learning is always a time for questioning, interpreting and reflecting. This Information-Learning Nexus Unit has enabled me to engage with a wide variety of inquiry processes and information literacy models, these have reignited my curiosity for learning but this time the learning is in context offering all learners the opportunity for deep, interconnected, passionate thinking and problem solving, preparing “students for work, citizenship, and life in a free society” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p. 14). As I reflect back to my initial inquiry questions I can appreciate my personal learning journey even more passionately. With renewed energy I feel empowered to be a part of the changing teaching and learning paradigm that the 21st century offers us as educators. “The 21st century calls for new skills, knowledge and ways of learning to prepare students with abilities and competencies to address the challenges of an uncertain, changing world” (Kuhlthau, 2010, p.2). With change we are taking a risk but change with passion brings a chance to make a difference in the classroom, in thinking, in learning, in society and in the world. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?

What is inquiry learning?

This investigation now ends with research from Carol Kuhlthau who initially started me on my inquiry journey, where she explains this process as going “beyond merely fact-finding to personal understanding” (2010, p. 4).  The inquiry method of teaching and learning is “built on the basic desire of the human mind to understand the world that we live in” (Treadwell, 2008, p. 76) and now together with the real and authentic experiences explored through this unit I am excited by this opportunity to show others how to get more out of learning. This journey has enabled me to deeply explore Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) in a scholarly manner.

“Inquiry learning requires a rich information and communication environment that can provide a baseline for connectivity and knowledge …to build new knowledge and new concepts” (Treadwell, 2008, p. 76)
“Inquiry sparks learning in students and …calls on the collaborative expertise of librarians and teachers” (Kuhlthau, 2010, p. 3)
“Inquiry learning is a constructivist pedagogy that takes student-posed questions as the starting point for learning” (Lupton,2012, p. 12)
“To inquire means “to ask questions” …so where did the question mark come from? No one is quiet sure, but it is powerful. This mark signals a question, which may begin a search and eventually find an answer…or bring to mind another question or two.” (King, Erickson & Sebranek, 2011, p. 235)

Upon reflection when I contrast this with Bloom’s Taxonomy I no longer just know about the inquiry process but have moved beyond application and analysis to being able to create my own IBL activities in the classroom grounded upon the evaluations made in this blog and my own personal learning. The questions asked initially have helped inform me during the Information Search Process (ISP) where through my own inquiry into IBL connections to these stages were experienced. IBL offers the 21st century teacher and learner the ability to work collaboratively, construct their own knowledge based upon prior learning ensuring motivation is high and that most importantly “learning centered” (Kuhlthau, 2010, p.5). With the ability to undertake five different kinds of learning (Kuhlthau, 2010) simultaneously during IBL this has to be the most effective approach to learning in the 21st century. What do you think?

What does expert inquiry learning look like?

Image taken by self

Image taken by self

I initially questioned what best practice would look like. Kuhlthau (2010) describes Guided Inquiry (GI) to be an inquiry methodology used to gain knowledge and deeper lifelong understandings. My school had used various models such as Hunter’s WE SOLVE It! Cycle of  Inquiry, the Big 6 and the N.S.W. Department of Education I.S.P. However, we were not implementing any of these well.The further this investigation took me the more reassured I was that it sounded like chaos to those who hadn’t heard about this before.

As the GI team started to collaborate and refine each others roles there was a renewed sense of who was responsible for the different aspects of learning. We had created the “third space” (Kuhlthau, 2007) and I now look forward to working together when assessing curriculum, information literacy, meta-cognition, literacy and cooperation skills where we can “take learning to a higher level – to raise the bar as well as facilitate the sharing of experiences, successes, and obstacles along the way” (Kuhlthau & Maniotes, 2010, p. 21).

Expert inquiry learning takes into consideration student background knowledge and enables the teacher’s mandated curriculum to be incorporated solving the crowded curriculum conundrum. Having seen the benefits of moving from the Generic window (Lupton & Bruce, 2010) I am excited about the future and aim to help learners become critical thinkers who challenge others and the world around them. The need for information literacy to be seen as transformative will be achieved when “learners are empowered to challenge and question social norms, governments and employers” (Lupton & Bruce, 2010, p. 22) and these are skills that all 21st century learners will need to learn about and practise.

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

Initially I asked how much time would be used to ask the deep and rich questions that stretch research – all at just the right time. This has been a challenging skill as questions “are the most powerful tools we have for making decisions and solving problems – for inventing, changing and improving our lives as well as the lives of others” (McKenzie, 2005, p.15) and to make this even more thought-provoking “questions should always be purpose driven” (Godinho & Wilson, 2004, p. 4). The generation of deep student driven questions enables the teacher to assess meta-cognition and the real understandings that have been achieved.

Some initial questions I can now answer were all pedagogical and will depend upon the learners and the support offered by the team leading the inquiry.

  • What will this time look like?This will be different for everyone, some students will be able to ask big questions and others will need guiding and scaffolding in order to ask higher level questions. Teachers too will need to be aware of thinking about the kinds of questions they are using and develop questions that “involve distilling and synthesising” (Treadwell, 2008, p. 90).
  • How will I know when to do this stretch? As educators we are called to be aware of learning needs and intervene at just the right time. The inquiry process opens the gate to who can support and stretch thinking and enables other experts to offer their opinions and think about their thinking too.
  • How can we guide and not give away the information?This all begins with effective questions, as “without effective questions the most educators can expect is regurgitated learning” (Treadwell, 2008, p. 101) and together with a strong inquiry process the opportunity for deep and transformative learning is achievable.
  • Is there a best search model to follow? The Information Search Process (ISP) that is described by Kuhlthau (2010) offers deep learning and thinking. I have investigated many other models over this unit and will continue to learn about new ones as they are published. In fact Pearson Education have just published a new methodology called the Brainstorm, Define, How? (BDH) as alternative questioning tool that is useful in the Australian Curriculum. Learning and questioning are part of the ISP and this process leads to building an effective, creative,deep thinking, lifelong learner. It is my aim to be a lifelong learner.

After action research on this topic of inquiry, it is clear to me that Kuhlthau, who stated, “an inquiry approach is a most efficient way to learn” (2010, p. 6) is indeed correct! What do you think?


Education Broadcasting Association. (2004). What is inquiry-based learning? Retrieved November 10, 2013, from

Godinho, S. & Wilson, J. (2004). How to succeed with questioning. Curriculum Corporation. Carlton South.

King, R. Erickson, C. & Sebranek, J. (2011). Inquire: A Guide to 21st Century Learning. Hawker Brownlow Education. Moorabbin.

Lupton, Mandy and Bruce, Christine. (2010). Chapter 1 : Windows on Information Literacy Worlds : Generic, Situated and Transformative Perspectives in Lloyd, Annemaree and Talja, Sanna, Practising information literacy : bringing theories of learning, practice and information literacy together, Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, pp.3-27.

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

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

Kuhlthau, C. C., & Maniotes, L. K. (2010). Building guided inquiry teams for 21st-century learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18-21. 

Lupton, Mandy. (2012). Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum Access, 26 (2), 12-18.

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

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


Play on ProQuest like a pro!


If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

Albert Einstein


ProQuest was another new data base that this unit has given me cause to access and learn more about. Einstein’s quote above so rightfully articulated my feelings about all of this searching. The more I have learned about Boolean operators, subject searching and using the advanced options the more I have been able to find relevant materials that I can incorporate into my annotated bibliography. This data base seemed different to the others I had used and I found my searches to become increasingly well refined and more relevant. I registered myself with a research account and have found this to be invaluable as it can save search strings, articles and then turn all of this into a detailed citation list.

The search strings seen in my YouTube clip included Boolean operators such as AND, OR and NOT, the utilisation of my personal account, accessing articles via other sources, parenthesis and truncation. Below are the screen shots of initial searches on ProQuest. In figure one you cans see the initial search string was also used in past expert searches. However in figure two the search was improved and better refined due to the use of a subject search.

ProQuest Search 1

Figure 1 – ProQuest Search 1

ProQuest Search 2

Figure 2 – ProQuest Search 2

The search stings used in this analysis were from basic and advanced searches and the whole analysis can be located in this Pro Quest Search String document. Or seen in the table below.

Figure 1: ProQuest Search Strings

Figure 1: ProQuest Search Strings

Search String



(primary OR elementary) science (“inquiry learning” OR “guided inquiry”) 4808Tags: Guided inquiry, primary and science all strong This search was a good start but the articles were mainly American dissertations and theses with the Kuhlthau text in first location. This use of subject term first might need to be put at the end to signify the difference in strength. I had learnt from previous searches that the use of quotation marks would keep phrases together and parenthesis keep the like terms grouped also.
(primary OR elementary) science (“inquiry learning” OR “inquiry based learning OR “guided inquiry”) 3609Tags: elementary, inquiry and science all strong This search enabled me to put the emphasis upon inquiry but was still too broad in the area of sciences where sociology was still being referred to. The American links were still predominant. I need to think carefully on where the science string is located.
(guided inquiry) AND (information search process OR inquiry learning) AND (science* OR primary science) 784Tags: learning, guided inquiry, science, inquiry process, primary, information This search was too big as I had not used quotation marks and had 171892Hits. This unfortunately accounts for the huge number of hits. The use of truncation again enabled the sciences area to be increased where sciences would be included.

Doing the same search with the red changes refined the search to 784 articles where there was a marked increase in credibility, timeliness and scholarly materials.

su(primary OR elementary) science su(“inquiry learning” OR “inquiry based learning OR “guided inquiry”) 4Tags: learning, guided inquiry, science, primary This subject search really refined the process and has enabled me to find 2 more very relevant sources based on their tags. However, after more searching the Chen article is not accessible. The Inquiry Learning article is 254 pages long and due to time will not be something I pursue.  Another is about bilingual students – not my subject. This was perhaps too specific and subject specific in hindsight.
(“guided inquiry” OR “information search process”) AND (science OR primary science) 3587Tags: guided inquiry, science, primary, ISP This was a good broad search with many tags to the search terms in connected phrasing due to the use of quotation marks and parenthesis. The links to the ISP are very strong in this search and the top 15 all list this as a part of the article. All are scholarly in type and available as PDF files. 
(Guided Inquiry) OR (inquiry learning OR information search process) AND sciences NOT (physics OR chemistry) 9Tags:

guided inquiry, science, learning,

This search string was formulated via the advanced search options and was a useful search as many articles were already saved to my research list on ProQuest.

Feeling ever so much more the researcher I know I still have a lot to learn but the reality is learning is a life time journey and one I am proud to say I will persevere with as I am a persistent and patient person. I feel like I played on ProQuest like a pro and will continue to refine my searching skills my whole life through – especially as technology moves ahead in leaps and bounds.