ETL401- Topic 4.1 Guided Inquiry


Guided inquiry (GI) is a form of constructivist learning. It is based on the Information Search Process (ISP) which was researched and developed by Dr Carol Kuhlthau. The bulk of the literature seems to suggest more advantages than disadvantages for a TL that is wishing to implement a GI approach, although challenges are clearly discussed.


  • The skills used in GI can be applied in other areas in the students lives and support lifelong learning
  • GI is a practical way to address the learning needs of students
  • As described by Kuhlthau, each time the students engage in a GI task they are engaging in five kinds of learning, “curriculum content, information literacy, learning how to learn, literacy competence and social skills” (2010, p. 19)
  • Enables the expertise in the school community and the wider community to be utilised for the advantage of the students learning
  • Encourages collaboration between TLs and teachers, therefore providing the opportunity for collaboration to increase
  • Collaboration creates the foundation for applying the team teaching approach necessary for GI
  • GI is a useful tool for forming the basis for ongoing evidence based practice
  • Ensures students information literacy skills are addressed
  • The use of scaffolds and bringing them together in a meaningful way
  • Support given by the School Library Impact Measure (SLIM) survey toolkit, great assessment tool and evidence based practice tool


  • GI challenges TLs and teachers (schools) to take learning to a higher level
  • Getting teachers to be willing to participate
  • Keeping students motivated and interested at different stages of the GI process


  • Workload increased
  • SLIM surveys – data entry can be time consuming

The positive impact that GI can have on the learning experience of students was eloquently described by one of the Year 10 students from Broughton Anglican College when she described her experience. The student stated,

I was incredibly proud of my work! It wasn’t just any assignment; it had become my own project. By the end of the process the information really had become my own. I knew my topic like the back of my hand and I had become extremely passionate about it. This is still the case now. It was honestly the most fulfilling piece of work I have ever completed (Sheerman, Little, & Breward, 2011, p. 5)


Kuhlthau, C. K. (2010). Building Guided Inquiry Teams for 21st-Century Learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18. Retrieved from

Sheerman, A., Little, J., & Breward, N. (2011). iInquire… iLearn… iCreate… iShare: Guided Inquiry at Broughton Anglican College. Scan, 30(1), 4-5. Retrieved from


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