Guided Inquiry

This theme brings together research, scholarship and development to show how Guided Inquiry through school libraries in 21st century schools can be developed and implemented to enable students to learn meaningfully from the diverse and complex information sources, develop important information literacy and technology competencies as well as work and life skills, and how it can play an essential role in school improvement and reform.

Guided Inquiry is carefully planned, closely supervised targeted interventions of an instructional team of school librarians and teachers to guide students through curriculum based inquiry units that build deep knowledge and deep understanding of a curriculum topic, and gradually lead towards independent learning. It is grounded in a constructivist approach to learning, based on the Information Search Process developed by Professor Emerita Dr Carol Kuhlthau’s extensive research over a twenty year period.

Seeking MeaningSeeking Meaning was first published in 1993. It has since become a widely used professional resource and required reading in library and information science schools in the United States and abroad. This book offers essential knowledge for anyone providing library and information services.

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Kuhlthau, C. C, Heinstrom, J, & Todd, R. J. (2008). The information search process revisited: is the model still useful? IR Information Research, 13(4). Available at

This paper examines the continued usefulness of Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process as a model of information behavior in new, technologically rich information environments.

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Case Study

Kim, Sun Un & Todd, R. J. The Information Search Process of English Language Learner (ELL) Students in a Guided Inquiry Project: An In-depth Case Study of Two Korean High School Students in the United States. Paper presented at the Annual Conference and Research Forum of the International Association of School Librarianship, Berkeley, California August 2008. CD Publication.

This study seeks to understand the information-to-knowledge experience of English Language Learner (ELL) students in a Guided Inquiry project undertaken by the librarian and subject teachers. As a pilot study, it provides an in-depth examination of two Korean 11th grade students in a biology class of a high school in New Jersey, U.S. During the project, data were collected through questionnaire, surveys, search journals, search sessions, observation, students’ papers, and interviews. The findings of this study will facilitate the understanding on the information seeking and knowledge construction process of ELL students so that school environments, including school libraries, can provide meaningful instructional and service interventions for them.