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Scope Statement:
"Inquiry helps kids to think creatively. When you capture their imagination they begin to think creatively and creativity solves problems for life." - a middle school librarian as quoted in Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century by Kuhlthau, Maniotes, & Caspari, p.1.
Inquiry-based learning and teaching strives to make learning more interactive and connected to everyday students' lives. As such, Inquiry-based learning is a more student centered way of learning that uses teachers as facilitators of new knowledge. The intended audience for this wiki is educators, and as such, this wiki intends to supply educators with resources in which they can do further reading and research about the topic. As seen in our concept map below, we have divided up the topic into four sections: Characteristics, Resources, Lessons, and Strategies. Within each area, one can find many areas in which to explore.
The essential questions that we hope to address are the following:
1. What are the core characteristics of inquiry-based learning?
2. How can School Librarians and Classroom Teachers foster inquiry-based learning?
3. What are the best resources to find out about inquiry based learning?
4. How can teachers apply inquiry-based learning in the classroom?

Keywords regarding Inquiry Learning:

  • Theme-based Learning
  • Authentic Learning
  • Backwards Design
  • Project-based learning
  • Problem-based Learning
  • Thematic Learning
  • Student Centered Learning
  • Synthesis

Concept Map of Inquiry Learning

All web links were checked and current as of July 9-13, 2009.



Donham, J., Bishop, K., Kuhlthau, C. C. & Oberg, D. (2001). Inquiry-based learning. Inquiry-based learning: Lessons from library power. Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Publishers.
This is a good book that ties inquiry-based learning to the use of the library. Emphasized heavily is student research and the questions students ask as they research. The process is how students truly learn, as it is about the journey of learning, and the building of already known knowledge.

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A
. K. (2007). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Westport CT: Libraries Unlimited.
A comprehensive and current text by one of the leaders in the field of guided inquiry. Included in this book is a solid explanation of what inquiry based learning is, how best to implement the theory in the classroom, and the impact constructivist learning has on students. The book references research and studies that proves that guided inquiry works and also incorporates different ways school staff and community members can contribute to student learning.
Wells, G. (2001). Action, talk & text: Learning & teaching through inquiry. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

The book is comprised of a variety of real life scenarios in which collaboration in schools results in successful learning through inquiry. Inquiry learning is presented via science activities, student lead discussions, and developing a wider world view among other avenues.
Wells, G. (2000). Dialogic inquiry in education: Building on the legacy of Vygotsky. In C.D. Lee and P. Smagorinsky (Eds.), Vygotskian Perspectives on Literacy Research: Constructing Meaning Through Collaborative Inquiry. (p.51-58). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

This chapter tackles how education, oftentimes stymied by old thinking and reluctance to change, really must evolve in thinking in order to survive and best serve students. The author views inquiry-based learning curriculums as a way to make students and educators feel more involved in their educational experience.

Journal Articles:

Gore, J. M., Griffifths, T., & Ladwig, J. G. 2004. Towards better teaching: Productive pedagogy as a framework for teacher education. Teacher and Teaching Education, 20, pp. 375-387.
While Inquiry-based teaching can mean multiple things, this article touches on one trend in education that falls under the umbrella of inquiry learning, productive pedagogy. This article, while scholarly, touches on how teachers can help refocus on how to connect the curriculum to students’ lives as well as providing options for different kinds of learners. Other aspects of inquiry learning are also surveyed.
Harada, V. 2002. Personalizing the Information Search Process: A case study of journal writing with elementary-age students. School Library Media Research Online, 5. Available at:
This article proves the worth of students being active and engaged participants in the meaning making process. Through the inquiry-based learning project of writing in a journal, students begin to engage in meta-cognition with the help of the school librarian. Also of note is how students begin to focus more on the process of learning, not just on the rote memorization of facts. This is one of the core elements of inquiry-based learning.

Hartzell, G. 2002, June 4. What’s it take? Paper presented at the White House Conference on School Libraries, Washington, D.C..

This article is a rallying call for librarians and classroom teachers to work together and collaborate for the good of students. This article would serve well as a resource to provide to teachers and administrators who are not quite on board with what the school librarian can do, which is to engage in inquiry-based learning, and is the slant heavily emphasized in Rutgers University’s MLIS program.
Todd, R. J. 2005, July 8-12. School librarians and educational leadership: Productive pedagogy for the Information Age school. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Association of School Librarians, Hong Kong, China.
Another article that touches upon Productive Pedagogy. Specifically it deals with how school librarians can help implement this style so that students can learn from inquiry-based learning situations. There are more detailed questions and frameworks with which school librarians can follow towards an end goal of inquiry-based learning. Also referenced is the use of teacher/librarian collaboration.

Websites/Web Resources:

American Association of School Librarians. (2007). Standards for the 21st Century Learner. From
This brochure contains the current school library standards set forth by the American Association of School Librarians that conform to the core tenants of inquiry based learning. There are four sets of main rules to which teachers and students should adhere, many of which include how students can achieve skills and reflect upon their work accomplished.
Galileo Education Network Association. (2009). From

According to this website: “Galileo is about teaching for deep understanding. Galileo supports teachers to design inquiry-based projects in which students use the digital technologies of their time in creative and thoughtful ways.” This is especially pertinent because this foundation strives to assist students working with today’s mediums. On this site there are many useful resources and explanations of inquiry learning.

Inquiring mind. (2009). From
This is a New Zealand based website that is comprehensive in trying to explain inquiry-based learning. While it is a not very jazzy website, the information is still relevant and New Zealand as well as Australia have many decent web resources about inquiry-based education. Many useful links and print resources are provided in a clear-cut format.
Inquiry-based learning: Concept to classroom. (2004). From
This website offers a very simple and quick reference point for those unfamiliar with inquiry based learning. Set up by a public television website, this site hopes to involve educators to experiment and try inquiry learning in their classrooms, gives practical examples of the techniques, and also provides challenges teachers may face. The site is a bit dated, but still is useful.

Virtual Information Inquiry: Student Information Scientists and Instructional Specialists in the Learning Laboratory. (2008). From
This website offers a great overview of what inquiry learning is, as well as many resources on which to draw. Included are many concrete lesson plans and techniques about how to implement inquiry learning. There is a strong science slant, as inquiry learning was first used mainly for science classrooms, and a heavy emphasis of the websites' author's book, but it still helpful and ideas can be appropriated for all classroom subjects.



Callison, D & Preddy, L. (2006). The blue book on information age inquiry, instruction and literacy. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
A compilation of articles and columns from School Library Media Activities Monthly, synthesizing many years of writing and thinking on the subjects of inquiry, instruction, and the many literacies we help our students develop. Universally hailed by professional reviewers as a comprehensive sourcebook essential for all school librarians and their principals. Includes reprodicible pages for classroom use, definitions of new key terms, explorations of search and use models, and a clear elucidation of the instructional role of school librarians.
Pappas, M.L. & Tepe, A.E. (2002). Pathways to knowledge and inquiry learning. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
Preview available on Google Books:
A comprehensive explanation of a particular information process model, Pathways to Knowledge, which was developed specifically for use in inquiry learning-based classrooms and library media centers.
Harada, V.H., Kirio, C.H & Yamamoto, S.H. (2008). Collaborating for project-based learning. Columbus, OH: Linworth Books.

Incorporates strategies, rationales, and plans for eleven projects in subject areas including science, history, sports, math, and art. Early chapters offer an introduction to Project-Based Learning (PBL), using PBL to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and the role of the school librarian in PBL.
Harada, V.H. & Yoshina, J.M (2004). Inquiry learning through librarian-teacher partnerships. Worthington, OH: Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Emphasizes the importance of teacher and librarian collaboration to implement information process models successfully for inquiry learning. Addresses the importance of essential and unit questions, how to incorporate content standards, how to develop healthy collaborative relationships, assessment, and the design of inquiry-driven instruction.
Lee, V. (Ed.) (2004). Teaching and learning through inquiry: A guidebook for institutions and instructors. Sterling , VI: Stylus Publishing.
Written with undergraduate faculty members in mind, but useful for educators working at every level, the second section of this title describes how faculty in a wide variety of disciplines (including foreign language instruction, biology, music, engineering, and psychology) use inquiry-based learning. This title has also been lauded by critics for providing a useful balance of theoretical grounding and practical suggestions for use in the classroom.

Journal Articles:

Callison, D. (1986, February). School Library Media Programs & Free Inquiry Learning. School Library Journal, 32(6), 20.
The essential introductory article on Inquiry Learning. Discusses and clearly defines the roles of students, teachers, and teacher-librarians, the process of inquiry learning, and steps the teacher-librarian can take to ensure that IL experiences are successful for all three parties.

Kuhlthau, C. (2003, June). Rethinking Libraries for the Information Age School: Vital Roles in Inquiry Learning. School Libraries in Canada, 22(4), 3.
An excellent follow-up to Callison's article, which discusses the role Teacher-Librarians can play in developing the habits of mind necessary for successful execution of Inquiry Learning projects. In this keynote speech to the International Association of School Librarians, Dr. Kuhlthau defines the skills necessary for 21st century students to learn and develop new knowledge from a wide variety of sources; discusses the seven stages of the information search process; describes the five levels of perceptions of learning; and how to implement these in schools. Another must-read.
Pappas, M. (2009, May). Inquiry and 21 st-Century Learning. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(9), 49-51.
Walks readers through the steps required to "bridge the gap" between the inquiry learning that will help students master the skills embedded in the Framework for 21st Century Skills and the new AASL Standards for 21st Century Learners, and the rote memorization favored by teachers and administrators striving to prepare their students for the standardized tests required under NCLB. Very useful for teachers wondering how to meet testing requirements and prepare students for living and working in the 21st century.
Stripling, B. (2008, September). Inquiry-based Teaching and Learning--The Role of the Library Media Specialist. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(1), 2-2.
Provides a useful and practical overview of the roles and steps school librarians can take on to foster a successful inquiry learning environment in their schools: collaboration, teaching, collection development, and leadership and professional development.

Essential Open Web Resources:

Thinking, smarts and inquiry learning podcast. (2007) Available at
The Inquiry Page. (1998-2009) Available at
One-stop shopping for inquiry learning enthusiasts. At this site, hosted by the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, SLs and CTs can find inquiry units and design their own from scratch, and can participate in a virtual community with other like-minded educators.
YouthLearn: Learning: How to Develop an Inquiry-based Project. (2001-2003) Available at
Step-by-step article especially useful for teachers new to inquiry-based learning. The article walks readers through the process of developing a solid, workable inquiry-based project with students, rather than for them. Emphasizes the importance of planning, prompting good questions, finding relevant resources, interpreting information, and reporting findings.
The Question Mark. Available at
This is "an educational journal devoted to questions, questioning, sound intelligence, strategic reading and quality teaching" edited by longtime school librarian and educational technologist Jamie McKenzie. Other resources available here include selected chapters from McKenzie's books and information about his workshops.

And A Few More Great Open Web Resources!: -- Connect: Inquiry Learning from The Institute for Inquiry -- "The Inquiry Learning Forum (ILF) is an online community of K-12 math and science educators working together to share, improve, reflect, and create learner-centered classrooms." -- SAUCE, a research and problem-solving process designed for use with inquiry learning -- The Questioning Wiki -- Center for Inquiry Based Learning -- Questioning Toolkit

Above video without sound: "Inquiry and Problem Based Learning",



Donham, J. (2001). Inquiry-based learning: Lessons from Library Power. Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Pub.
The book provides concrete examples of inquiry-based learning and lessons used in three different school. Donham also includes theory and principals of inquiry-based learning. According to the
School Library Journal (2002), “…perhaps the most important aspect of the book …is the chapter…that describes the changes in that describes the changes in teaching practices for both media specialists and teachers…”.
Kuhlthau, C. C., Caspari, A. K., & Maniotes, L. K. (2007). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.
This book is a good stepping stone towards understanding inquiry based lesson planning. Kuhlthau builds upon her Six Stage Information Process and John Dewey’s educational philosophies. Chapter 7, “Meeting Content Area Curricular Standards through Guided Inquiry” gives examples of different types of lessons .

Harada, V. H., & Yoshina, J. M. (2005). Assessing learning: Librarians and teachers as partners. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.
A vital piece of inquiry-base lessons is evaluating student work during and after the completion of a project. According to the
School Library Journal, the book offers “… terrific ideas at all grade levels for assessing (formatively) and evaluating (summatively) both our work and that of our students.” These assessment tools are critical to lesson planning.
Harada, V. H., Kirio, C. H., & Yamamoto, S. H. (2008). Collaborating for project-based learning in grades 9-12. Columbus, Ohio: Linworth Pub.
Project-based learning lends itself to inquiry-based learning and lesson planning. This book provides examples of project based lesson for the high school environment. There are reproducible lesson plans and other supporting materials.

Harada, V. H., & Yoshina, J. M. (2004). Inquiry learning through librarian-teacher partnerships. Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Pub.
This book provides examples of inquiry learning at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Chapter 4, Designing Inquiry-Driven Instruction, is terrific tool for developing lessons with inquiry-base learning.

Journal Articles:

King, C. (2005, December). What were the major events in the civil rights movement? (freedom Riders, desegregation of Birmingham, march on Washington, lunch counter sit-ins, freedom Summer) Inquiry-based lesson plan for grades 9-12. Teacher Librarian, 33(2), 12-13. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.
I think the title say it all (!). The article includes specific online databases and Internet sites.

Pappas, M. (2009, May). Inquiry and 21 st-century learning. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(9), 49-51. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.
If you are looking for examples of inquiry-based lesson, I recommend starting here. This article provides an “Inquiry-focused” web resources links for teachers and school librarians. It is an excellent source for finding inquiry based lesson from various types of instutitions.

Pappas, M. (2008, January). Designing learning for evidence-based practice. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 24(5), 20-23. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.
This article discuss how information literacy lessons can be designed to provide evidence that student have met the objectives of the lesson. The articles provides nice bacground information on the terminology and theory for using evidence based activites which lend itself to an inquriy based assignment.
Web Resources:

There are numerous teacher lesson web sites. This listing only includes sites that have “inquiry-based” in their lesson description or highlight a particular aspect of inquiry based learning in a lesson, i.e. thematic lessons, project lessons.
Edutopia. Project Learning This link provides examples of project learning, which is an aspect of inquiry-based lesson planning. The site also includes two videos and “real life” lessons. The web site has articles that cover different aspects of the inquiry-based lesson.
Lesson Plans and Teaching Strategies is a long list of links to various types of lesson plans and teaching strategies. To quickly find the “inquiry-based” lesson use the find feature in your browser. Type in “inquiry” and it will highlight everytime the word “inquiry” is used to describe a lesson.
Smithsonian Education - Lesson Plans is an excellent source for finding inquiry-based lesson. The lesson incorporate primary sources and museum collection. According to the site, “…the lessons include all the materials, photographs, reproductions, handouts, activities, suggested strategies, standards information, and additional online resources.”.
Lesson Planet (keyword inquiry-based learning) This site is a search engine for teachers looking for lesson plan. This link will take you to the page that pulled up lessons that are described as inquiry-based learning.

Image provided by Worksheet Library,



Barell, J. (2006). Problem-Based Learning: An Inquiry Approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
This book is based on standards and offers step by step procedures for teachers. It offers a straightforward approach to inquiry and provides a number of practical examples to give teachers a better understanding of this method.
Delisle, R. (1997).
How-to Use Problem-Based Learning in the Classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association For Supervision & Curriculum Deve.
This book details the history of problem based learning, describes he process, and the teacher's role in it. It includes lesson plans, charts, and assessment guides.
Kirio, C. H., & Harada, S. H. (2008). Collaborating for Project-Based Learning in Grades 9-12. 2008: Linworth Pub Co.
High school librarians are prominently featured in this book, which focuses on their collaborative role with teachers usin inquiry based laerning. It includes directions for project based learning, rubrics, and lesson plans.

Krauss, S. B. (2008). Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age. Denver: Intl Soc For Tech In Educ.
This book is a guide for using project based learning along with emerging technology. It features guides and strategies to foster collaboration across the school. It also provides details on project management and implementation, and includes illustrations and classroom examples.

Markham, T., Larmer, J., & Ravitz, J. (2003). Project Based Learning Handbook: A Guide to Standards-Focused Project Based Learning for Middle and High School Students. Cincinatti: Buck Inst For Education.
This book contains a variety of concepts that help teachers create student driven projects. These concepts foster inquiry learning and provide teachers with projects that encourage student participation. Teachers may use projects they already have, or create new ones based on the curriculum.


Cianciolo, J., Flory, L., & Atwell, J. (2006, November 1). Evaluating the Use of Inquiry-Based Activities: Do Student and Teacher Behaviors Really Change?. Journal of College Science Teaching, 36 n3, 50-55.
This article focuses on how inquiry based learning enhances the intellectual development of students. It also comapares the effect of inquiry learning with tradional teaching.
Inquiry Learning. (2000, Mar. - Apr.). Connect, V13 Issue 4. Retrieved from

This issue of Connect Magazine focused on Inquiry Learning with commentary by teachers in the San Francisco area. Teachers in different classroom situations and at various grade levels discuss their experiences with inquiry and how and why it works.


10 Tips for Inquiry-Based Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved from
This website offers teachers informative "tips" for using inquiry based learning in the classroom. teachers can seek information by grade level, standards, and subjects. Tips include: giving yourself time to prepare, and incorporate hands-on activities in the classroom.

JakesOnline!-Using the Internet to Promote Inquiry-based Learning. (2006, May 19). Retrieved from
This e-paper addresses using inquiry based learning in the classroom with the internet as a primary source. The author provides an eight step process for using inquiry learning in this manner. It should start with an essential question and end with knowledge produced by students.

Problem-Based Learning in Middle and High School - WikEd. (2009, May 11). Retrieved from
This site offers a detailed description of problem based learning. It also provides information on the process of this type of learning, and tells how to apply it in a classroom setting. It also gives evidence of its effectiveness and how it benefits students.

All web links were checked and current as of July 9-13, 2009.