I absolutely believe in the necessity for information literacy in the 21st century. The development of the Internet and mobile technologies have given us access to a complex and changing information environment – an environment where we have instantaneous and ubiquitous access to vast amounts of unfiltered, and often unsubstantiated, information. Our students need the capability to navigate this information environment successfully – they need to be information literate.
There are many models for teaching and scaffolding information literacy (see this post, but literacy is not pedagogy (Wocke, 2018). “Literacy needs a pedagogy to develop it and give it meaning” (Lupton 2012). Inquiry-based learning provides teachers with that pedagogy and curricular framework. Inquiry is an approach to teaching and learning, where learners are active participants who feel and think and act (Kuhlthau, n.d.). Learning is central to the inquiry process, the teacher facilitates the process and challenges students’ inquiry journey through the design of inquiry tasks, resources use and the use of teaching spaces (Murdoch & Claxton, 2015, pp. 14-15).
Kuhlthau turned her successful model for information literacy, the Information Search Process (ISP), into pedagogy when the Guided Inquiry Design (GI)process was developed. “Guided Inquiry is planned, targeted, supervised intervention throughout the inquiry process” (Kuhlthau, 2010, p. 20). GI frames the process, the thoughts, feelings and actions in clear understandable words that can help our students understand their learning better.
Having just finished reading this article Kuhlthau (2010) wrote about Guided Inquiry, I want to say:
Yes, we need a new way of learning for the 21st century.
Yes, school libraries should be the dynamic learning centres of schools and school librarians as vital partners in the inquiry process,
Yes, inquiry that is guided by a flexible, collaborating instructional team will enable students to gain understanding and knowledge and be self-directed in their learning.
Yes, the third space is where learning will be the most meaningful.
Yes, assessment throughout the process makes the most sense.
Yes, to information literacy, learning to learn, content learning, literacy competence and development of social skills.
Yes, to connecting with what they already know.
Yes, to putting our students in the centre of learning.
Yes, but… many schools do not have the freedom to experiment in this way because of standards and curriculum constraints and requirements.
Yes, but… many schools do not have fully qualified and dedicated librarians and libraries and technology that provides equal access to online and print resources
Yes, but… there are such prescriptions about assessment and reporting practice that restricts how teachers teach and assesses.
BUT, this is a worthwhile model for all TLs to know and implement, even if it cannot be in its purest form. Our students deserve a new way of learning and we should do our best to guide them and support them as best we can.
The video below, by Karen Bonanno, provides a worthwhile introduction to GI (Eduwebinar, 2016).
FitzGerald, L. (2015). Guided inquiry in practice. Scan, 34(4), 16-27.
Kuhlthau, C. C. (n.d.). Information search process. Retrieved May 1, 2018, from
Rutgers School of Information and Communication website: http://wp.comminfo.rutgers.edu/ckuhlthau/information-search-process/
Kuhlthau, C. C. (2010). Guided inquiry: School libraries in the 21st century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1), 17-28. Retrieved from
Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2015). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited,
an imprint of ABC-CLIO.
Lupton, M. (2012, July 10). IL is dead, long live IL! [Blog post]. Retrieved from Inquiry learning website:
IL is dead, long live IL!
Murdoch, K., & Claxton, G. (2015). The power of inquiry. Northcote, Vic: Seastar Education.
Wocke, G. (2018, April 26). Information literacy Models [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website: