Reflecting on my Inquiry Journey!



FitzGerald, B.(2015). “The Great Wall”, Beijing. CC by 2.0

The journey I have been on has been an up and down road. I started with a little knowledge of inquiry and how it should be, but still queried whether my teaching practice was truly there. The process from the beginning, and the initial questions I raised have come a long way. I gained some answers and developed many more questions. I started out with:

What is true Inquiry?

How should a library be involved with all classes in their inquiries?

How does the natural curiosity of early childhood change throughout the formal school years?

As my searching took place each of my questions sort of evolved along my journey – even though my main searching question was:

How should a library be involved with all classes in their inquiries?

There were many interesting articles found and they led me on different paths, my thoughts have been expanded, confused, frustrated and enlightened. My brain at times has been very full. I have been on my own inquiry cycle. Kuhlthau, (2010) has an Information Search Process model that she suggests helps guide students in the inquiry process.


Author created. Adapted by Kuhlthau’s model (2004)


At the beginning of this process I read an article by Carol Kuhlthau, (2010), Guided inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century and right from the start I enjoyed what I was reading. I was intrigued by Kuhlthau’s thoughts…..I had never read any of her work before. I reflected on my students of the past and present, and could identify these elements from the Information Search Process model, in what I had observed in the classroom.

Then I actually began my journey and there was definitely moments along the way that also reflected what has been documented.

At the start (the Initiation) I was very uncertain of what areas I should explore. Everything was a big deal for me as I was returning back to university and this was my first subject, and surely I was okay as I teach in an inquiry school……..but was I really on top of this concept inquiry? I was actively looking for anything and everything inquiry. I attended discussions and listened with interest to establish what I should be looking for. The move into a new library job as well as completing a research journey enabled me to establish questions from a very personal point of view.

Then as I read more, listened more, and followed the discussions, I became more optimistic (the Selection). I formed my questions, had outside discussions with peers and thought I had a handle on everything. As the blog process started to take effect and the initial posts were complete I was thrown into a spin as I entered the world of Search Engines with Boolean Operators, AND, OR, truncations and the like, (the Exploration). I was frustrated and overwhelmed by the whole process. I tried and tried, explored and explored. There was a point where I felt like I was running on the spot in a circle……one I wasn’t enjoying! Wasn’t this meant to work….I was following and reading the directions provided, listening to my peers and seeing what they were achieving, using all cues possible….it was feeling impossible! Clarity started to creep in (the Formulation), thank goodness for the community around me….my guides along the way. I was starting to move on the right track. Many new questions were popping up…I could’ve changed tangents so many times……however I was now gaining direction, (the Collection) and I was growing in confidence of how to work the allocated search engines to my advantage. I was excited by what I was finding and my head was again getting full …….with information that was fulfilling, questioning, providing me with uh-huh moments. There were so many articles to explore around my question (and other questions I had formed). I was utilising tools such as critical evaluation models to decide which I would share with the digital world, ones that I thought useful to ponder over and consider.

Then another mini inquiry into how to create a curated collection occurred and days of frustration and overwhelming feelings appeared again as I learned another new process. I was thrown back into confusion (the Exploration) and again the community around me helped guide and support me back on my journey.  Direction was once again established and the road to the journey’s end had finally arrived. Having said that, my journey is on-going. I have found some clear guidelines to the librarians role in an elementary school community however, I feel, I have more questions to explore, unfinished tangents and queries to delve into.

It is clear to me at the end of this process that I have gone through Kuhlthau’s Guided Inquiry. In her article Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century, Kuhlthau describes “Guided Inquiry as enabling students to learn how to learn by becoming aware of their learning process. Each time they work through the stages of the Information Search Process (ISP)– initiating, selecting, exploring, focusing, collecting and presenting–they learn the process of inquiry as well as how they personally interact within that process. Guidance is provided at critical intervention points to teach strategies for learning from a variety of sources of information.”  (2010, p.7) I can now really see how important this “guiding” process is to a student going through the inquiry process. I valued the support networks I had helping me along the way, checking in to see how I was going and providing feedback throughout. It has made me consider and reflect how to do this more for my own students.


So I have reached the end of this first module on my Inquiry Journey. I am satisfied (the Presentation) with what I have achieved on this journey. I know that I will continue finding out more as I delve into the best practice for a librarian of the 21st century and then work on how to maintain this to the best of my ability. I am excited to share my new found information with my fellow teaching peers, and then to establish a more collaborative guided inquiry process for our students. It is an exciting journey to be on.

My Next Question:

I am still interested and wanting to know more about – Curiosity and Learning. So I suppose I want to know:

How can we foster curiosity in the library environment?




Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century. School Libraries Worldwide. Volume 16, Number 1, 17-28. Retrieved from











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