Guided Inquiry – Challenges

Share your views on Guided Inquiry (GI)? What advantages, challenges and/or disadvantages do you see for a teacher librarian wishing to implement a GI approach?

I have previously shared my thoughts and initial questions on Guided Inquiry in another post (Parnell, 2018-a).  And I have also written about the struggles with building collaborative relationships between teachers and teacher librarians (Parnell, 2018-b).

There are two additional key challenges I see in implementing a GI approach.  The first is time and the second is the principal.


Guided inquiry takes time (Maniotes & Kuhlthau, 2014).  It is not a process that can be rushed into one lesson, or a single week. Teachers are already pressed for time as it is and say that there is too much to do and it simply cannot all be done (Barnesley, J, 2018, April 3, personal communication). For a teacher to “give up” extra class time to focus on a GI unit in one subject, they would have to be completely convinced of its value.


The principal of a school has the power to govern the focus and priorities of the school and the teacher-librarian would do well to align her library mission and activities with the vision and mission of the school and its principal (Farmer, 2007) and learn to speak the language of the principal (Bonnano, 2011). A principal would need to be convinced of the value that the teacher-librarian brings, and that a new approach would support the school’s aims to then be supportive of implementing this new approach (Ray, 2013). The principal would have to be supportive in freeing up time for the teacher-librarian and the teacher to collaborate, which may be difficult in schools when the teacher-librarian is responsible for providing RFF to teachers (Abbott, 2017, Haycock, 2007).


Abbott, R. (2017). Teacher-librarians, teachers and the 21st century library: relationships matter. Synergy, 15(2). Retrieved from

Bonnano, K. (2011) ASLA 2011. Karen Bonanno, Keynote speaker: A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan. [Video file]. Retrieved from:

Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 56-65. Retrieved from

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.

Maniotes, L.K, Kuhlthau, C. (2014) Making the shift. Knowledge Quest. 43(2) 8-17

Parnell, E. (2018-a, April 7) Guided inquiry – My initial thoughts. Liz at the Library Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018-b, April 8) Inquiry learning and teacher-librarian/teacher collaboration. Liz at the Library. Retrieved from

Ray, M. (2013, January 31). Making the principal connection. School Library Journal. Retrieved from


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