Having been reminded of the many hats we TLs wear, I got down to the nitty gritty of what we do, concentrating on one of the essentials: information literacy. Once again I realised how crucial it is in a student-directed learning environment that our students are literate in terms of the skills required by the information age – they need transferable literacy skills. The familiar information literacy models have been transformed and included in inquiry-based learning, and here is the big “take away” for me of this unit: “YES to Guided Inquiry!”, I shout with enthusiasm. This can work. Let’s do this. This is how TLs can make a difference in the teaching teams of our schools.
At the beginning of this unit I wrote that I believe the school library is at a crossroad: “it will either find its place in the centre of teaching and learning in the school, or lose its relevance altogether”. I am more convinced of this than ever. I have, though, come to realise that the TLs role in the guided inquiry team can make a difference to how “relevant” we are to teaching in our schools. I also believe that we can be that “third space” for many of our students that they will fondly remember about their school days – this I will explore in my next elective: INF536 Designing Spaces for Learning.
Throughout this unit I continued to use my blog, Gretha Reflecting, as a vehicle with which to develop my reflective practice. I find it an invaluable tool with which to clarify and articulate my perceptions, attitudes and learning. Through being more active in commenting on the blog posts of my classmates, I have discovered an added dimension in the discourse that followed through comments, as we all identify gaps in our knowledge and understanding, and seek clarification as we grow.
The journey and the learning – about being a TL that matters – continues.
I started this module, ETL401, quite familiar with information literacy (IL) models, but with little understanding of inquiry-based learning. I have a reasonable amount of experience in supporting research tasks through the application of IL models (such as Big 6) and I intuitively knew that a new approach to teaching and learning – and the support from teacher librarians – is needed to accommodate the changes in the information environment. Here is what I learnt (the full story):
Due to advances in information and communication technologies, the information and information literacy (IL) landscape is changing and evolving (FitzGerald, 2015, p. 17). Students’ familiarity with technology leads to the assumption that they are able to find and use information effectively, but research shows that their information-seeking behaviour is unsophisticated, rather than showing good Internet literacy skills. Because they seem confident in their use of technology, they are often left to learn information-seeking skills through experimentation (Combes, 2009). As an educational institution, a school needs to take responsibility for the development of information skills and literacy through implementation of a curricular framework, or IL model (FitzGerald, 2015, p. 18).
As IL is perceived differently by different people, depending on a specific teaching and learning environment, I felt I needed to formulate my own definition (Bruce, Edwards, & Lupton, 2007, pp. 37-39). In response to a discussion forum topic (and in this blog post), I defined IL as: “a foundational and fundamental competence and capability for being successful in the complex and changing information landscape (Wocke, 2018b). I reasoned that IL incorporates identification of an information need and a strategy to find and use the information to meet the need. It includes a critical evaluation of the information, and an understanding of the economic, social and ethical issues surrounding the use of the information, it is more than a stand-alone process. In a response to the same discussion, a classmate, defined literacy as “a spectrum of ability in a task” (Parnell, 2018). This challenged my definition and I responded by including the idea of IL as a “continuum of capability” in my personal definition of IL (Wocke, 2018a).
There are many models for teaching and scaffolding information literacy (as I investigated in this post, but literacy is not pedagogy (Wocke, 2018c). “Literacy needs a pedagogy to develop it and give it meaning” (Lupton 2012). Inquiry-based learning seems to provide teachers with that pedagogy and curricular framework.
image by Pezibear, downloaded from pixabay
With “inquiry” I am familiar, it is natural to human behaviour, but about inquiry as a learning
pedagogy and curricular framework, I have a lot to learn. I was informed through Lupton’s (2013) view that holistic inquiry learning incorporates:
a questioning framework (student-led and teacher-directed),
an information seeking process (data collection and information gathering) – the IL model
and an iterative action research cycle, through which learners apply the information found, take ownership of the problem they have identified, and revisit it with new questions or inquiries (back to step 1!).
This approach appeals to the constructivist in me: while the teacher guides the inquiry, student voice is present (David, 2015). Students are encouraged to think, wonder, question and decide what they want to learn– to be active, instead of passive recipients of what the teacher decides to teach.
The essence of inquiry-based learning in summarised in a few bullet points below, and presented in a much more entertaining and informative video (Spencer, 2017):
Learning happens in a social context, wider than the classroom;
Reflection is planned for; Assessment is ongoing (Lutheran Education Queensland, n.d.).
Problem-solving and critical thinking is encouraged;
Transfer of knowledge and skills are facilitated;
Students learn how to learn and build self-directed learning (Restuccia, n.d.).
Inquiry-based learning seems “in tune” with the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) programmes that our school offers, after all, in the IBO’s programmes structured “inquiry” frames the curriculum, and together with “action” and “reflection” forms the cornerstone of its philosophy (International Baccalaureate Organization, 2014, p. 11). Would I find an IL model in the IB practice? The closest to an IL model that I found in IBO practice is the MYP Design Cycle ((Lohmeier, n.d.). It is, however, no IL model but just what it claims: A cycle for designing to solve problems
I found my answer in Guided Inquiry (GI), as I over-enthusiastically shouted out in my blog (Kuhlthau, 2010; Wocke, 2018d). Guided Inquiry encourages information literacy, learning how to learn, curricular content, literacy competence as well as social skills (Kuhlthau, 2010, pp. 22-24). As IL model GI is such a good fit with the MYP Design Cycle. I did a comparison and found that GI augments and improves the Design Cycle with its more refined information seeking phases: Immerse, Explore, Identify and Gather (Wocke, 2018e). The integration and combination of the two approaches does not compromise the MYP philosophy at all but provides better scaffolding of the information seeking part of inquiry-based learning, thereby helping students to develop good information searching habits.
A further insight came when I took a good look at the IBO’s Approaches to Learning (ATL). The ATL skill clusters effectively enable self-regulated learning of information literacy (and many other) skills when these skills become an explicit focus for teaching and learning. So, Mrs Simon (fellow student), when I wondered with you “How do we promote the development of information literacy skills that truly give learners the capacity to learn how to learn and transfer skills and competencies from one context to another?”, I did not realize that the answers already lie in the teaching and learning of ATL skills (Simon, 2018)!
So, here is what I learnt (the short story):
We need a new approach to teaching and learning in this changed information environment. Teachers alone cannot create learning environment needed. The Teacher Librarian (TL), as information specialist, is well equipped, trained capable to be used as school-wide consultant in relation to inquiry learning pedagogy (FitzGerald, 2015, p. 19). “Collaborations with teachers in a team can create the necessary climate for students to inquire, participate, create and learn in an information environment” (Kuhlthau, 2010, p. 26). THIS is how TLs can make a difference in the teaching teams of our schools. Let’s do this – we’re all in this together.
Approaches to teaching and learning in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme. (n.d.). Retrieved May 5, 2018, from https://bit.ly/2FLvItH
Bruce, C., Edwards, S., & Lupton, M. (2007). Six frames for information literacy education: A conceptual framework for interpreting the relationships between theory and practice. In S. Andretta (Ed.), Change and challenge: Information literacy for the 21st century (pp. 37-58). Blackwood, Australia: Auslib Press.
Combes, B. (2009). Generation Y: Are they really digital natives or more like digital refugees? Synergy, 7(1). Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2r4yA0u
David, L. (2015, June 20). Constructivism. Retrieved May 11, 2018, from Learning Theories website: https://www.learning-theories.com/constructivism.html
FitzGerald, L. (2015). Guided inquiry in practice. Scan, 34(4), 16-27.
International Baccalaureate Organization. (n.d.). Programmes. Retrieved May 2, 2018, from https://www.ibo.org/programmes/
Kuhlthau, C. C. (2010). Guided inquiry: School libraries in the 21st century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1), 17-28. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2w1hNjx
Lohmeier, P. (n.d.). What is the MYP design cycle? [Blog post]. Retrieved from Passion for Learning website: https://www.whitbyschool.org/passionforlearning/what-is-the-myp-design-cycle-what-you-need-to-know
Lupton, M. (2012, August 22). Inquiry learning & information literacy [Blog post]. Retrieved from Inquiry learning website: https://inquirylearningblog.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/what-is-inquiry-learning/
Lupton, M. (2013). Inquiry pedagogy and the Australian curriculum. Primary and Middle Years Educator, 11(2), 23-29. Retrieved from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/65829
Lutheran Education Queensland. (n.d.). Approaches to learning inquiry based learning. Retrieved April 21, 2018, from Australian Curriculum website: https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1360/lutheran-education-queensland-inquiry-based-learning.pdf
Middle years programme MYP: From principles into practice [Brochure]. (2014). Cardiff, Wales: International Baccalaureate Organization.
Parnell, E. (2018, April 10). Information literacy – module 5 – ETL401 [Blog post]. Retrieved from Liz at the Library website: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/lizatthelibrary/2018/04/10/information-literacy-module-5-etl401/
Restuccia, D. (n.d.). Curriculum model: Inquiry-based learning. Retrieved April 29, 2018, from http://www.teacherinformation.org/curriculum-model-inquiry-based-learning/
Rhonnieful. (2009, October 29). Teaching in the 21st century [Video file].
Retrieved from https://youtu.be/bjgKzrkMetU
Simon, M. (2018, May 2). Reflections on information literacy – complexity, context and transfer [Blog post]. Retrieved from Mrs Simon says website: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/mrssimonsays/2018/05/02/reflections-on-information-literacy-complexity-context-and-transfer/
Spencer, J. (2017, December 5). Inquiry-based learning in less than five minutes [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/QlwkerwaV2E
Wocke, G. (2018a, April 10). Re: Information literacy – module 5 – ETL401 [Blog comment]. Retrieved from Liz at the library website: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/lizatthelibrary/2018/04/10/information-literacy-module-5-etl401/#comment-17
Wocke, G. (2018b, April 26). Information literacy: A commentary [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2018/04/26/information-literacy-a-commentary/
Wocke, G. (2018c, May 2). Information literacy models [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:
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: