Guided Inquiry Model

Guided Inquiry Model by Carol Collier Kuhlthau

 Stages in the Research Process

Stage 1:  Initiating a Research Assignment (invitation, brainstorming, timeline

Stage 2:  Selection a Topic (overview, survey of the collection)

Stage 3:  Exploring for Information (exploratory library search, relax, read, reflect)

Stage 4:  Forming a Focus (survey of material on focus, deciding on focus)

Stage 5:  Collecting Information (thinking of the library as a whole, note taking)

Stage 6:  Preparing to Present (support focus, organizing notes, outlining)

Time Line of the Research Process

Five Kinds of Learning in the Inquiry Process

Stage 1:  Initiating a Research Assignment (invitation, brainstorming, timeline)

  • List possible research topics.
  • Generating ideas:  Think back to what you have studied in class, review textbook or notes.  Think of a question you cannot answer without further investigation.
  • Brainstorming and discussing:  In groups of 3 or 4 students, talk about something your already know, what you would like to find out.  Ask questions and offer suggestions on the topics described by other members of the group.
  • Keeping a journal during the research process:  This helps clarify their thinking and become aware of the process.

Stage 2: Selection a Topic (overview, survey of the collection)

  •  Use general and specialized encyclopedias to get an overview of topics under consideration for research.
  • Questions to help you select a topic:
    – Will it hold my interest?
    – Does it fit the requirements of the assignment?
    – Is sufficient information available on the topic?
    – Do you have adequate time to investigate the topic?
  • Survey of the library collection to determine amount of information available on topic.
    – How many titles?
    – How many articles?
    – Is the topic broken down into subheadings?
    – Is the topic contained in broader subject headings?
  • Conferencing:  Describe overview of topic. Extent and type of materials.  Predict outcome of your research.
  • Making a decision.
    – Why did you choose the topic?
    – What do you expect to find out?
    – List some sources you plan to use

Stage 3:  Exploring for Information (exploratory library search, relax, read, reflect)

  •  Exploring the library as a whole (different types of information).
    – Reference (general and specific)
    – Books (fiction and non-fiction)
    – On-line databases (newspapers and magazine/journal articles)
  • Read & reflect.
    – What new facts have I learned?
    – What people have been involved in the topic?
    – What events are related to the topic?
    – Are there any controversies surrounding the topic?
    – Do authors present any opposing points of view?
    – Source log:  Keeping a record of the bibliographic citations of their sources.

Stage 4:  Forming a Focus (survey of material on focus, deciding on focus)

  •  Listing each possible focus.
    – What do you know about the focus?
    – What new ideas and facts have you learned from your reading?
    – What sources have information on the focus?
    – Where can you expect to find more information about the focus?
  • Forming a focus:  Selecting one path from many
  • Survey library collection for focus.
  • Discussion groups – 4 or 5 students:  State possible focus and explain why you are considering the focus.  Describe where you expect your research to lead if you choose the focus.  Ask questions and offer suggestions.
  • Conferencing:
    – What have you learned in your reading that has led to the focus you are considering?
    – What materials on your focus are in the library?
    – How will your proceed with your research and what do you expect to find?
    – Deciding on a focus:  Write a paragraph describing the focus.

Stage 5:  Collecting Information (thinking of the library as a whole, note taking)

  • Finding descriptors along the way:  Terms and key words, people, places, events.
  • Alternative subject headings
  • Using library catalog.
  • Browsing shelves.  Locate books and using index and table of contents
  • Using reference section
  • Using current sources of information
  • Evaluating sources:
    – Newspapers:  daily reporting and commentary of news events
    – Magazines:  weekly or monthly reporting and commentary of news
    – Nonfiction:  factual information and summaries, as well as reports and commentaries, often presenting one aspect of a topic or one particular point of view
    – Fiction:  Literature of an author intended for a following of readers
    – Encyclopedias:  a compilation of what is generally know
    – Other reference:  a compilation of what is generally known within a subject area for type of format such as maps or statistics.
    * What is the original purpose of the source?
    * When was the material published?
    * Is the author presenting a particular point of view?
    * Does the work present an overview of the topic or one aspect?
    * What type of writing, such as essays based on opinion, factual account based on research or personal narrative based on experience, is presented in the material?
  • Note taking

Stage 6:  Preparing to Present (support focus, organizing notes, outlining)

  •  Adequately supporting the focus:  Students consider if the information they have collected is adequate to present their focus.
  • Signs of completing the library research:  Students learn to recognize increasing redundancy and decreasing relevance as sign that their library research is drawing to a close rather than merely stopping because they have run out of time or put forth what they consider enough effort.
  • Steps in organizing notes as they prepare to write a research paper or other type of presentation
  • Outlining:  Provides method for constructing an outline or plan for presenting the findings of their library research.
  • Quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing.  Review the concepts and techniques of quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing.
  • Connecting and extending:  Students review the concepts and techniques of connecting and extending.  Present their own ideas through connections and extensions.
  • Footnotes:  Students learn to use footnotes to identify the sources of the information they have quoted, paraphrased and summarized in the presentation of their research findings.
  • Bibliography:  Students list the sources they have used in a bibliography.

Stage 7:  Assessing the Process (personalized time line, conferences)

  •  A personalized time line:  Students draw a time line of their own research process.
  • Constructing a flow chart:  Gives students a visual overview of how they conducted themselves through their research process.
  • Conferences:  Students recall and assess their own research process.  Students use their time line and their flow charts to describe their process.
  • Writing a summary statement: By writing a summary paragraph to describe the findings of their library research students become aware of their focus or lack of focus.


 What is inquiry?

“Inquiry is essentially, although subtly, different from an information problem-solving model of student research. Both inquiry and information problem solving are based on a process, a frame for the learning. In a constructivist environment, the frame provided by inquiry more closely matches the principles of constructivism: learning is active, shared, and based on pursuit of student-generated questions; meaning is constructed by the learner; the curriculum is based on big concepts; assessment is founded on student work rather than on teacher-generated tests; and the teacher’s role is to interact and mediate the environment (Brooks and Brooks 1993, 17). In an information problem-solving model, the emphasis seems to be more on finding information to answer a problem or need and less on the student’s mental processes to learn (e.g. asking good questions, constructing new understandings).” Stripling, 2003.

To be literate….

“ To be literate in this century retains the symmetry of being able to both receive and contribute communications, but communications now exist in complex new media too:  video, audio, animation, diagrammatic, spoken and all within a host of newly emerging genre from podcasts to blogs.  To be literate means to be able to choose appropriate media, to then contribute and communicate in forms appropriate to those media (for example sms texts on phones) and to critique other’s contributions too.  If our learners are to be active participants in this Age of Learning they will need to harness a broad portfolio of literacy capabilities”. Stephen Heppell, 2007.

Learning how to learn…

“Our job as educators, is to prepare our students for their future.  This job today is especially challenging, because, for the first time in history, we cannot clearly describe the future for which we are preparing our children.  Our world and the information that describes it are changing too quickly.”  “ …perhaps the best thing we can teach our children now is how to teach themselves”. David Warlick, ‘Redefining Literacy for the 21st century’, 2004


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