SLIM Questionnaire 3 – Final Thoughts

1. Take some time to think about your topic. Now write down what you know about it.

I have summarised what I have learnt about inquiry learning so far in the following mindmap:

Inquiry Learning

In addition, this course has enabled me to consider the definition of information. During this process I have learnt that information in not just ‘a thing’ to be sought. It can be knowledge and a learning process. It is not just the textual information that is found in the library or on the Internet. Observational information from the everyday world is also a powerful learning tool, people are informed by objects and events (Buckland 1991). I discovered this recently when I carried out a mini-inquiry with a group of students trying to locate the owner of some lost jewellery during the Brisbane floods. For more information visit the blog.

One of the most interesting aspects of information was the notion that it can be political and I found this very thought provoking. Consequently, I have reflected on my practice and now consider perspectives that are presented and, more importantly, that are silent.

Much of my research centred on the most suitable model for my ILA. After researching different models of inquiry, I believe that the Alberta Model would be most suited to my ILA. The Alberta Model is suitable for primary age children, supports a non-linear approach and provides opportunities for reflective practice. It is also well resourced and supported with online materials. I would use this model if I taught the ILA in the future.

2. How interested are you in this topic? Check (•) one box that best matches your interest.
Not at all ☐ not much ☐ quite a bit ☐ a great deal •

3. How much do you know about this topic? Check (•) one box that best matches how much you know.
Nothing ☐ not much ☐ quite a bit ☐ a great deal •

n.b. However, I feel there is still much to learn and that looking back I did not know much about this topic!

4. Thinking back on your research project, what did you find easiest to do? Please list as many things as you like.

After completing the expert searching tutorials, it was much easier to filter the vast amounts of information on the Internet. I was also able to locate resources to support a favoured model of inquiry easily.

Creating the blog was straightforward and made re-visiting areas of research easier as everything was in one location.

5. Thinking back on your research project, what did you find most difficult to do? Please list as many things as you like.

Evaluating the information found was the most difficult aspect at the initial stages but as the focus of the research became clearer, and relevant information was found, this aspect became easier. I had to keep revisiting information until links were made that were able to provide enough confidence to create new information, or apply it to the task required. For example, at the initial stages I was reluctant to disregard information that I found. As I progressed through the search process and acquired more knowledge, I gained the confidence to discard the least relevant papers.

6. What did you learn in doing this research project? Please list as many things as you like.

The use of expert search strategies greatly enhanced my research. Using each database’s advanced features resulted in more relevant hits and made the research process less problematic. This aspect also gave me confidence when supporting students in their research task. I did find that in order to use the parameters effectively, I had to know about the topic I was researching. So generalised reading was necessary at the initial stages.

A major aspect of my learning occurred through problem solving. Finding ways to upload to the blog, or to present information as required, was challenging at times. Creative thinking was required to overcome battles with file formats that were not accepted on WordPress. I wanted to use WordPress as I was aware that it had advanced features compared to other blogging sites I had used previously. Problems were solved by using the Internet to search for solutions on forums or asking “dumb” questions using the discussion boards or reading other’s posts Facebook. Having a platform to ask questions was a valuable security blanket when taking risks with new software.


Buckland, M. (1991). Information as Thing, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 42 (5), 351-360


Seeking Clarity – Which Model of Inquiry-based Learning?

The number of inquiry-based learning models are overwhelming. In a bid to seek some clarity (see previous blog entry) and focus my research for pertinent information, I have sought out comparisons of models of inquiry.

It is clear from this table that all the models investigated follow a staged process. The Stripling and Pitts model lacks an opportunity for reflection or evaluation after the final product has been created. Consequently, there are missed opportunities for discussing the learning that has occurred and the potential for building on this learning for future projects.

Evaluating an inquiry task is an essential part of the learning process and a higher order thinking skill (Blooms 1956). Most models include an evaluative stage where the task has been assessed in terms of its success. In the above comparison, reflection is documented as being distinct from the evaluation stage. The author has in fact created a model of inquiry that includes reflection as a stage following evaluation. It is my belief that if the evaluation stage is successful, the students would have reflected on their learning. Churches describes evaluation as being synonymous with reflection in his definition of Digital Blooms Taxonomy. In summary, I believe that an evaluation stage is essential but models with a distinct reflection stage offer no addition benefits.

The more I research the different models, the more I realize that the choice of model has sidetracked my focus on an important issue. How to use the principles of inquiry learning to maximize the learning. It is the development of the task and the scaffolding during the search process that is the primary goal.

Consequently, a model for inquiry learning in my context needs to fulfill the following criteria:

• Be suitable for primary aged children.
• Is cyclical, (i.e. non-linear) in nature as the research process needs to provide opportunities for narrowing searches and evaluating information throughout the process.
• Must contain opportunities for evaluation and reflection.
• Be supported by teacher and student resources.
• Is student centred and driven by student’s questions.

In addition, my research has generated further questions:
Why are there so many models of inquiry?
Are they all models of inquiry or information seeking models?
Why were so many developed during the 1990s?
Will there ever be one model that fits an authentic inquiry-learning task?

Bloom, B. S., Engelhart, M. D., Furst, E. J., Hill, W. H., & Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals; Handbook I: Cognitive Domain New York, Longmans, Green, 1956.

Cantwell K., Models of Inquiry, Retrieved 25th August 2011 from!models-of-inquiry

Churches A., Blooms – Analysing, Retrieved 25th August 2011 from

Reflections on Feedback & Documenting ISP

Social constructivism underpins the inquiry process and holds that students learn through engaging with others (Kuhlthau 2007). When providing feedback I found having a definite rubric and a defined structure to assess the assignment to be most beneficial. Peer feedback was useful however, I found the tutorials and the modeled feedback sessions more helpful as these could be accessed and re-accessed when required. Indeed, inquiry is a highly individual, nonlinear and flexible method where experienced inquirers tend to “loop back” and reflect on their learning throughout the process (Alberta 2004). At the time the feedback was due I felt that I had not focused my thoughts enough and consequently lacked the confidence to provide constructive feedback. Presenting my work to others when I was not satisfied with the result myself was challenging, and on reflection, was the most stressful part of the process. It was at this point in the information search process that my interest in the topic was the lowest. Receiving feedback from my peers and Dr Lupton re-focused my information seeking which led to an increased interest.

Documenting the research has been beneficial to search process. Throughout my research I have journeyed through Kuhlthau’s (2007) information search process stages and experienced the associated emotions. I have found her model to be an accurate portrayal of the inquiry process.

Who owns Learning? Shifting the Power of Control.

During my research, I have discovered Alan November. November (2011) challenges educators to provide purposeful activities. He states that purpose is the number one driver of good quality work. I have found the practical, purposeful nature of the assessment a huge personal motivator. Throughout the inquiry process I have appreciated the value of learning and how this is paramount in terms of success for life. Lupton & Bruce 2010) present different perspectives on information literacy and describe three “windows” on literacy. This project contained elements of all three windows and can be summarised as follows:

Generic window – Search strategies, and methods of evaluating information were taught.
Situated window – completion of the project involved problem solving technological issues and using new tools for learning. These can be transferred to my work, personal life and school community. Therefore, it has impacted on a broader range of practices and has moved beyond a skills based exercise.
Transformative window – Elements of this course have encouraged me to view information from different perspectives. I have learnt that information can be political and it is important to teach students explicitly about how information can be presented. During this process I have been encouraged to look critically at my practice. November’s (2011) notion of shifting the power of control alludes to the participatory nature of the transformative window. Critical literacy skills during the transformative window, are essential skills for empowering and creating informed and active participation today’s society. These skills have been identified in the 2011 Horizon Report (Johnson et al 2011)as being essential for students in a contemporary world.

On completion of this inquiry I agree with Callison (2006), that the inquiry approach is not concerned purely with systematic research but primarily with teaching how to learn. It is my belief that completing this inquiry has enabled me to learn about the topic of inquiry learning, whilst also providing me with valuable lifelong learning skills. These skills will enable me to make effective use of the information, both observational and textual.

Alberta Learning (2004). Focus on Inquiry – A Teacher’s Guide to Implementing Inquiry-based Learning. Edmonton, Alberta: Alberta Learning, Learning and Teaching Resources Branch. Retrieved 28th August, 2011 from

Callison, D. (2006). Chapter 1: Information Inquiry: Concepts and Elements in Callison, Daniel and Preddy, Leslie, The Blue Book on InformationAge Inquiry, Instruction and Literacy, Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report.
Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Kuhlthau, C. ; Maniotes, L., & Caspari, A. (2007) Guided Inquiry: learning in the 21st century, Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited

Lupton M & Bruce, C., (2010) Chapter 1: Windows on Information Seeking and Learning Outcomes? in C. Bruce and P. Candy (eds), Information literacy around the world: Advances in programs and research, Wagga Wagga:CIS Charles Sturt University

November, A., (2011) TEDXNYD Alan November 03/05/2011 retrieved 20th September 2011 from

SLIM Questionnaire 2 – approaching the mid-point

Questionnaire 2

1. Take some time to think about your topic. Now write down what you know about it.

Guided Inquiry:

After completing preliminary research on Guided Inquiry, my main findings are as follows:

• It is a way of learning, not a teaching process.
• Questions are fundamental to the inquiry process.
• Inquiry learning is targetted, structured and scaffolded by an instructional team, (usually Class Teacher, Teacher Librarian or other specialist teachers), but driven by learner’s questions. It is the instructional team’s role to assist, or encourage, the student to develop more questions.
• There are multiple models of inquiry. Some are more suited to particular age ranges or disciplines.
• The ‘process’ is not linear as new information may mean returning to original ideas or questions and changing direction. This is problematic in learning environments that are not flexible.

2. How interested are you in this topic? Check (•) one box that best matches your interest.
Not at all ☐ not much ☐ quite a bit • a great deal ☐

3. How much do you know about this topic? Check (•) one box that best matches how much you know.
Nothing ☐ not much ☐ quite a bit • a great deal ☐

4. Thinking of your research so far – what did you find easy to do? Please list as many things as you like.
Finding descriptive, general information about inquiry learning and its synonymous terms.
Searching the databases using the models shown.
Lots of general information could also be found using the hidden and open web.

5. Thinking of your research so far – what did you find difficult to do? Please list as many things as you like.

I have a lot of links and information. However I now have to decide which papers to read, which to ignore as I only have limited time available. I have found myself reading too generally for too long. I believe this is part of Kuhlthau’s (2007) stage 3 process of exploration. Whilst I have no problems accessing the vast amounts of information on the web, I do find it difficult to progress to the next stage of clarity. A sense of direction is lacking! I have lots of information, I just need to synthesise this and structure my ideas.

A further difficulty I have is the amount of models of inquiry available. I have decided the only way forward is to develop a set of criteria for a relevant model for my needs, compare and contrast and decide which model warrants deeper investigation. This is an attempt to focus my research and to give my searching a sense of direction.

Expert Searching – Google Scholar

I have created a short video to explain how I used Google and Google Scholar to search for information. I only used Google to search the open web and soon realised that while Google contains a wealth of information, I needed to confine my searching to scholarly articles not blogs or general websites. It was for this reason that I continued my expert searching using just Google Scholar. A screencast of this process has also been uploaded to my Vod Pod.


At a Joyce Valenza seminar this year I was told that Google can manipulate your search results if you remain logged in to your Gmail account whilst searching. I tried searching using Google logged in and out of my Gmail but found that it had no impact on my results. However, further research revealed that Google can track your history and personalise your results if your web history is switched on. For more information see Google’s advice at:

Expert Searching – Using ProQuest Database

In my initial search I used terms that were used in the online video tutorial:

“inquiry-based” AND learning AND “middle years” AND history NOT science

This search was far too narrow for a first search and therefore yielded poor results:

I then removed history from the search terms to see how many hits I could find that related to both inquiry and the middle years:

This search was still too narrow and generated few results. I decided to remove the term “middle years” as I believed that this maybe effecting my results adversely. Instead I used the search term primary. I also added a truncation, hist* to include any reference to history or historical. This search generated more useful results however, when the results were closely inspected, it became clear that the term “primary” was appearing in the results out of context.

I tried the same search again but omitted the word primary. This generated much improved results and 247 results were returned. A brief look at the results made it difficult to narrow the search by using further Boolean operators. I decided to use the subject headings to narrow the results:

This enabled me to greatly reduce the number of results and narrow my search. I then saved these to my research folder in Proquest so that they could be retrieved at a later date.

Confused? Frustrated? Doubtful? Stage 3: Exploration

With the deadline looming for submitting the draft context essay, I am trying to piece together the information I have found so far. Feelings of uncertainty and confusion increased during this stage. Faced with an overwhelming amount of information and the notion that if I just complete one more search, I would find one more important piece of information, I am definitely experiencing the emotions of frustration with this phase. Kuhltau (2007) states that information technology has made it more difficult for students to work thorough the exploration and formulation phase. It is my intention to use Web 2.0 and other online tools to manage the information I find and curate it in a meaningful way.
To meet this goal, I intend to do the following:

• Create a list using an online social bookmarking tool Diigo. This list will be used to save all relevant online content found during the research process.

• Create a visual bookmarking site to analyse the different models of inquiry. This sitehoover will bookmark the official sites for the main models of inquiry so they can be accessed and compared quickly and efficiently.

• Create a table to compare and contrast the different models of inquiry. This will enable a comparison of models and ensure an appropriate model is used for the ILA.

• Create RSS feeds on the QUT library database to enable relevant scholarly literature to be found after initial searches.

When I commenced my search, it became apparent that there are already many websites that have curated the different models of inquiry learning. Consequently, there is little value in spending time curating an online resource that serves the same purpose. Here are some of the sites found in a simple Google search:

After skimming through these sites, I have decided to use the first two sites as my primary sources of information for comparison of models. Whilst the third site contains useful information, the content relies on the contributions from its members. This contrasts to the first two sites, which are created by well-known and respected scholars.

Information Revolution

This video raises many relevant points about information in today’s rapidly changing world. Whilst it acknowledges the tradition view of information as being a thing, with a logical place, requiring experts to source and curate it, it also documents how the Internet has enabled an information revolution. No longer solely consumers of information, now organisers and creators.

As an educator I believe the information revolution Wesch (2007) describes in his video requires a shift in pedagogy and practice. The onus is now on the consumer of information to use it effectively. We are now the experts. Students require skills to organise themselves and the information they find. They also need to generate methods in which relevant information can find them. It isn’t a case of information over load but filter failure! (Shirky 2008)

Clay Shirky (2008) retrieved August 11th 2011 from

Michael Wesch (2007) retrieved August 11th 2011 from

Initial Search of A+ Database

A+ Education First Search

My initial search of the A+ Database produced mixed results. My search began quite narrow by using a synonyms of inquiry learning and Boolean operators. Only 6 results were returned so I decided to widen the search by using as many terms as possible. I then narrowed my results using Boolean operators based on the type of records created. The following videos document the search process:

Narrow Search 1:
Narrow Search 1

Narrow Search 2:

Wide Search:

(These videos can also be viewed on my Vodpod account which is linked to this blog)

Terms used:
1. Synonyms for inquiry based learning – inquiry learning, Guided inquiry, inquiry-based learning, inquiry based learning, inquiry, historical inquiry, enquiry, research based learning, project-based learning, discovery learning.

These were then copied and pasted into the search query box so further Boolean operators could be used to find specific research related to historical inquiry in the targeted age range .

2. My search was narrowed by including the following terms – primary, history, information literacy, not secondary

Stage 2: Selection

Having graduated from Stage 1, (Initiation), feelings of apprehension and uncertainty are dwindling. I am now entering stage 2 as I have selected a topic and focus for my study. My inquiry based learning project will take place with a class of Year 5 students and will focus on the Australian Gold Rush. Brief feelings of elation were felt (Kuhlthau 2007) as a focus was negotiated and now, with trepidation, I begin my trawl of Internet looking for relevant information.