Posting and Receiving Feedback

Over the course of 13 weeks, I have being developing a blog with a focus on inquiry-based learning. During this time I have received valuable formative feedback. In the early stages of my blog development and learning journey, I gained some valuable feedback from Jo. She commented on my blog post Compare and Contrasting Proquest and A+ Education Databases. She commented that it would be interesting to see some specific examples of particular resources that I discovered using the search method demonstrated in the post through either hyperlinks or screen capture images. I received similar valuable feedback from Sarah, who felt it would help to enhance my web post and get my ideas across to my blog readers. From the feedback I edited my post to include screen capture images of search result pages from Proquest and A+ Education. I feel the addition of images has enhanced and strengthened my post. While I did not include hyperlinks in my post Compare and Contrasting Proquest and A+ Education Databases, I have included them I many of my other posts.

Throughout the 12 weeks, I have received much positive feedback from Jo and Sara, thus allowing me to feel pleased and confident about my work and to know I was heading in the right direction. Through their comments, they commented on areas that they particularly enjoyed, such as feedback from Jo on my post Getting to Know Eric Database. She commented that she liked the way I had introduced several of my posts outlining some information about the different databases I had been exploring. Sara gave warm feedback on my post Action Taken After Questionnaire One and Two through her comment that I had some great ideas in order to improve the ILA. She liked the idea of giving students a copy of the ISP, especially the very student-friendly copy I had included.

I gained much positive, formative and constructive feedback from my lecturer that I have used to strengthen and improve my blog posts. Without realising it, I had included comments made by the teacher I was observing in one of my posts. As it is important that I keep the teacher’s identity anonymous I edited the post and removed her comments. In the final stages of my blog development, my lecturer brought to my attention that I had not brought the unit of work alive. This meant I would have to include comments made by the students about the work and include clips of their questionnaires to help the blog viewers develop a sense of context. As a result, I developed a post where I discussed students’ work, included examples of the type of work they completed and used clips of students’ comments in their questionnaires and quotes from a small group interview to help bring the unit of work alive. My lecturer commented that one of my graphs used in my data analysis was not created properly. She commented that it was visually very confusing. She suggested I recreate my graph so factual statements and explanation statements were juxtaposed, as this would help the data “talk to each other.” A simple graph recreation and edit of my page Uncharted Waters: Method, results and recommendations rectified the visually very confusing graph.

While I received much positive and constructive feedback, I also gave positive and formative feedback I felt would aid in strengthening and enhancing Jo’s blog posts and Sara’s blog posts. For Jo, I commented on three of her posts – Having a Go at Proquest and Eric Databases, A reflection – Comparison of My Inquiry Journey Using Kuhlthau’s Information Seeking Process and A Look at Inquiry Learning Within My Information Learning Activity. In the first post I commented that perhaps she could use related search terms that accompany the information in the bibliographic data or the reference list of articles. In her second post I asked a few questions in relation to her ISP and thought the questions would help enhance her post. I asked if she had met the requirements of the assignment? And did she feel off track? In Jo’s third post I gave some editorial feedback and asked a few questions. Did students make connections to the real world? And did students make conclusions from her ILA? For Sara, I commented on two of her blog posts, An Afternoon With Eric and Action Taken after Questionnaire One and Two. For her first post I suggested using the * butted up to the end of root words. This instructed Eric to search for the word with the * butted up against it, plus any words derived from the root. It saved me much time searching and I felt it was a great tip I should share. I asked Sara several questions in her second post. I asked if the lessons she had given her students to help search the internet for information had assisted students in finding relevant information about their chosen topic? And now that you know your students need help, what will you do in future units of work? I also suggested that perhaps she design a small unit of work where search and retrieval were the unit focus.

Through giving and receiving feedback, I have been able to strengthen and enhance my blog and give feedback to fellow students I feel would assist to enhance and strengthen their blogs. Through the feedback I have been able to view the weaknesses of my blog I was blind to before. I am appreciative of the feedback I have received and as a valuable exercise; I will implement it more often in my future teaching pedagogy, not only for self-improvement, but also for students to learn the benefits of giving and receiving feedback.

Uncharted Waters: Student experiences

This post has been written to help contextualise the data analysis in Uncharted Waters: Method, results and recommendations though explaining students’ learning experiences and journey. Though out this post clippings of students’ questionnaires, examples of work and quotes from the interview I conducted will help readers to understand students’ learning and thus, help contextualise the data analysis more easily.

The ILA, Uncharted Waters was designed so students would work their way through a series of worksheets (in booklet form) to gain the majority of historical understandings about British and European exploration. 4 example worksheets can be viewed bellow. To answer the worksheets students were given books and told to find the answers in the books.

Through the interview I conducted with 11 students, it was evident that the worksheets were receiving mixed engagement and understanding levels. One student commented that the worksheets were, “not like really easy, but not hard…. Medium.” One student found the worksheets fun to work through, while two other students were not sure what they were supposed to write despite the instruction written on the worksheets.

As the majority of historical exploration was through books, it was easy to copy and paste, word for word the answers to the questions. Bellow are two examples of students’ responses to question 4 of the questionnaire I administered during the course of the ILA. The responses indicate that the ILA’s strong reliance on books for information did not challenge some students.

*It’s easy to research reading and writing information

During the class’ weekly computer lab time the teacher used this time for students to work through the following worksheet about convicts. This gave student the opportunity to learn about convicts through a convict database (website on top if worksheet).

The first activity on the worksheet required students to explore a 3-dimentional digital reconstruction of one of the first British ships to sail to the Great South Land (Australia). From my whole class observations, students were enthralled by the exploration and showed high levels of engagement. Many of the boys were interested to learn that the captain had his own private toilet! The following questions were designed to allow students to explore the database to gather information about convicts; unfortunately, Education Queensland blocked many of the pages on the database. The activity was modified so the teacher could use her laptop and smart board to help students fill in the answers to the questions.

Uncharted Waters was designed by the teacher to help students build a picture of life in England and the Great South Land in the 18th and 19th centuries. As such, the class watched Oliver Twist to gain visual understandings of life in England in the early 18th century.  Students commented in the interview that they enjoyed watching Oliver Twist because they got to watch a movie and did not have to do any work. To further build students’ understandings of early British settlement in the Great South Land, the teacher would read short narratives. Many of the stories were published many years ago and consequently the narrative language did not excite many students. From whole class observations many students showed little interest when the teacher read these stories and often were easily distracted during these times.

Towards the end of the ILA, students conducted much of their final stages of their research on the Internet. The final summative assessment piece was for students to research a convict and, again, use a worksheet to answer questions about the convict and create a PowerPoint of their findings. Throughout the unit there had been no plans made for explicit instruction around research skills and as such, many students suffered from information overload and difficulties finding the information they required.

* It’s a bit hard to find information on the internet and a bit hard to find the right website

Despite information overload and the struggle to find information on the Internet, many students were confident or happy about their overall research. I am surprised by many students’ positive responses to question 7 in questionnaire 3.

I am surprised by their confidence in their research, as personal experience informs me that if I am not finding the information I am looking for, if I am struggling understand what I am learning, I am unlikely to feel confident or happy about the way my research turned out. Students would have had a far more engaging experience with the ILA if they had the opportunity to move beyond worksheets and engage with historical artefacts and analyse and draw conclusions form the information they were retrieving, rather than simply finding answers to worksheets.


Refelting through the Ontario Inquiry Model

Ontario Inquiry Model

I chose this inquiry model as it breaks the 4 stages of inquiry into detailed quarters and explains what is to be achieved in each quarter of the model. There are no arrows to dictate direction as many inquiry models do and thus, movement between each quarter is multi-directional. Earlier in my blog I compared my information search process (ISP) against Kuhlthau’s (2007) model and discovered many of my feelings matched those outline on Kuhlthau’s (2007) model. Here I will reflect back on my own IPS against another ISP model. I will compare my own process gaianst the Ontario inquiry model.

Stage 1 requires initiating inquiry, a topic to be chosen and initial questions about the topic to be asked. In the exploring stage of my ISP I posed 3 questions:

  1. How can inquiry based learning be incorporated into the C2C’s (curriculum into classroom)? The questions have already been set. Students do not have the luxury of posing and answering their own questions.
  2. Should all the units taught in class be inquiry-based units or should it work on a percentage bases?
  3. Should all guided inquiry units allow students to pose their own questions/problems to answer/solve or is it acceptable for the teacher to pose some questions and students dictate which one they wish to answer and how?

These 3 questions can be viewed in my first blog post Posing 3 Questions About Inquiry Learning.

Stage 2 of the Ontario inquiry model requires the development of a plan, selecting information and narrowing the topic to a focus. Reflecting back on this stage of my ISP I did not develop a plan before I began my research. My plan developed as I began to search for information and was moulded to suit my university class’ semester plan. As I reflect back over my plan, my initial lack of planning may be the main cause for my lack of direction and feelings of frustration and disorientation in the first stages of my ISP. Therefore, in future practice, it will be imperative I plan ahead and teach my future students to map out their own ISP to avoid wasting time and feeling frustrated and disorientated in the first stage of any ISP. Formulating a focus from the information I collected was a simple task, as I did not develop my own ILA. As the ILA had already been planned, I was able to pass over this step quite quickly. In my first questionnaire, I mentioned that I found it difficult to narrow my focus. I had anticipated that I could use this university unit to develop and refine my skills here, however, as I observed another teacher implementing the ILA, I was unable to refine my skills as effectively as desired.

Stage 3 requires analysis, evaluation and synthesis of ideas and information. It is during this stage that understandings about the topic develop and are refined. It took much time for me to develop a sound understanding of inquiry-based learning and historical inquiry. I am still developing my understandings about inquiry-based learning and historical inquiry, however, upon reflection and completion of the third questionnaire, I have come to realise just how far my understandings and knowledge development has progressed. My unit lecturer stated at the beginning of this unit that we will all get to the end of this unit and wish we knew at the start what we knew by the end (lecturer, personal communication, July, 2012). I agree with this statement, however, having been through the ISP, I now feel more confident in teaching an ISP model to my future students and am thankful to have learned the steps involved in an ISP model through participation in the process.

Step 4 is the creative step in the Ontario inquiry model and it is here that the first 3 steps are drawn together through the production of a final assessment product. It is also during this stage that reflection and transfer of knowledge to new contexts is produced. As I reflect back over my learning, I view myself as being richer for the experience. My interest in inquiry-based learning has increased throughout the research conducted and blog creation. I have many new skills in ICT that I am excited to implement and teach to my future students. I am proud of my achievements in completing the data analysis, recommendations and pre-recorded presentation. While I am proud of my accomplishments, in future practice I would organise my time more wisely so I could observe the ILA more often, analyse the data more effectively to assist in further understanding students’ learning beyond their ILA styles of learning and develop a revised version of the ILA containing my recommendations for the teacher to use in her future practice.

Through reflection using the Ontario Model of inquiry, I have been able to understand my own ISP and what I would do differently in future practice. As I continue to reflect on what I still have to learn, I must remember that I cannot learn it all, however, through lifelong learning I hope to become an inquiry learning expect and successfully teach my future students the art of information exploring.

Final Questionnaire

Questionnaire 3

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

Over the 12 weeks I have been studying this topic, I have come to understand much about inquiry learning. Inquiry learning is a not simply a series of skills you learn while at school. It encompasses much more than just developing a set of skills. Inquiry-based learning allows students to develop a new way of thinking that will assist students to become lifelong learners. It will allows students to move beyond collecting and regurgitating factual statements. Students will be able to scrutinise the information they locate for bias, different perspectives and eventually come to understand the subjective nature of information. With this new understanding of how to think, students will be able to make personal understandings about the world and their place in it. Students take much or all of the responsibility of their learning and reflect back over their learning throughout the unit to analyse their learning and help structure future learning and performance.

It is the role of the teacher to guide students through the process of inquiry learning from the structured to open inquiry, to help students develop the skills to ask meaningful questions and provide formative feedback throughout the unit to help guide students’ learning. The teacher provides guidance and assistance throughout the unit and plans instruction according to the many different learning styles of the students. The teacher needs to plan for inquiry and anticipate the types of questions students will ask in order to maintain a student centered inquiry consistent to a chosen inquiry model.

2. How interested are you in this topic?  Check Y one box that best matches your interest.

Not at all          not much ☐    quite a bit ☐    a great deal Y


3. How much do you know about this topic?  Check Y one box that best matches how much you know.

Nothing             not much     quite a bit Y    a great deal

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

  • The design of WordPress made it easy to develop and maintain a blog over the past 12 weeks.
  • Through web tutorials, advice from fellow students and friends, I no longer view excel as a daunting program to be avoided. I can now use my basic skills to manipulate the data I input to create graphs.
  • Screen captures, screen capture videos and uploading the content of these forms of capture has, over time, become an easy task and one I will teach students in the future.
  • The increase in knowledge I have allows me to confidently converse with colleagues about inquiry learning.

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

  • I struggle to present my findings in a concise and academic nature without “fluff.”
  • Presenting my findings through a screen capture video and sharing it with the world was difficult, as I did not want to imply any negativity towards the teaching style of the teacher’s.
  • Maintaining motivation and thus, high academic standards in the final blog posts so close to the end of semester.

6. What did you learn in doing this research project?

  • Conducting a research project, such as the one I have just completed takes much time and effort.
  • The project revealed that I have so much I still want to learn about inquiry-based learning.
  • Through learning how to use new computer programs and Web 2.0 tools, I have come to feel more confident in my ability to try new programs and tools and in my ability to teach ICT to students in the future.
  • I have learned that being an observer gives you great responsibility. I must analyse the data collected and make recommendations without offending the teacher and her teaching pedagogy.

7.  How do you now feel about your research? Check Y one box that best matches how you feel.

Unhappy  – I don’t feel confident with how it turned out            

Confused – I don’t really know what I was looking for

Confident – I think it turned out OK Y

Happy – I’m really happy with how it turned out

How does Uncharted Waters Measure Up to the Australian History curriculum?

Over the past ten weeks I have embarked on a journey to gain a better understanding of inquiry-based learning. It is the aim of this post to apply my new understandings of inquiry-based learning and critically evaluate the ILA Uncharted Waters against the Australian History Curriculum v3.0, Lupton’s (2012a) Gest Windows model and a relevant inquiry model Standards For the 21st-Century Learner (American Association of School Librarians, 2007) to determine the depth of inquiry-based teaching and learning the ILA utilised.

The Australian History Curriculum v3.0 (ACARA, 2011a) states that history is a process of viewing the past through an inquiry approach that aims to develop students’ curiosity and imagination. A number of inquiry skills and key inquiry questions are listed in the Australian History Curriculum (ACARA, 2011b) that are to be utilised in historical inquiry units to develop students’ curiosity and imagination.

Reflecting back over the ILA, some of the Australian Curriculum History (ACARA, 2011b) skills were taught well and some could have used improvement. The ILA was designed so students were given worksheets and asked to use the information supplied, mainly from books, to answer the questions on the worksheets. Students were give the opportunity pose a number of questions about the past through a KWL chart, however, due to the design of the unit students did not engage much with the chart. Had more time been allocated to addressing questions posed on the KWL chart, students would have been able to use the questions to form an historical inquiry. Students were given some opportunity to search for a limited number of sources, however, due to the design of the unit they did not have the opportunity to compare the information from the various sources. Throughout the ILA, students were able to identify points of view in the past through the viewing of the movie Oliver Twist and reading many non-fiction narrative texts. Time was allocated during the ILA to develop a few descriptive texts, with the final assessment task focusing on a report text that drew information from a few chosen sources of information, however the ILA did not have time allocated to developing any narrative texts.

A major strength of the ILA was through some of the open-ended question worksheets. Students, working in small collaborative groups, were asked questions during certain times of their learning and they were to answer the questions reflectively. Students were asked to think through what they had learned and apply their historical knowledge of Early British and European exploration to create some new understandings. It was through this critical thinking that the ILA met some of the standards from the American Association of School Librarians’ (2007) standards paper. Students were able, through a structured approach, to inquire, think critically and gain knowledge (American Association of School Librarians, 2007). Students were able to collaborate with each other to expand and strengthen understandings, while, on a basic level, “find, evaluate and select appropriate sources to answer questions” (American Association of School Librarians, 2007, n.p.).  The use of technology during parts of the ILA allowed students to “… create products that express new understandings” and to “demonstrate personal productivity by completing products to express learning” (American Association of School Librarians, 2007, n.p.). Many skills in the American Association of School Librarians’ (2007) standards paper were utilised well, however, there were many that were not implemented in the ILA such as, using background and prior knowledge to make connections to new learning, using the research to draw conclusions or “reflect on systematic process, and assess for completeness of investigation” (American Association of School Librarians, 2007, n.p.). Students were not given the opportunity to develop skills in the ethical use of information or to self evaluate their own learning (American Association of School Librarians, 2007). The skills not implemented in the ILA would have allowed students to engage more deeply in an inquiry-based unit.

The inclusion of some inquiry skills from the Australian History Curriculum (ACARA, 2011b) and Standards for the 21st-Century Learner (American Association of School Librarians, 2007) in the design and implementation of the ILA places the unit with in the situated window of Lupton’s (2012a) Gest windows model. It fits within the situated window as information is used to create new knowledge; information literacy is learned by engaging in authentic information practices and all the information sourced and used in the ILA consisted of “opinions, ideas, text, images… and… visual stimuli” (Lupton, 2012a). The missing link I believe would have further deepened students’ historical understandings of early European and British exploration and created a stronger inquiry-based unit is drawing conclusions about the past (Foster & Padgett, 1999; Obenchain, Orr & Davis, 2011 as cited in Lupton, 2012b). I believe it is important that students are able to draw conclusions as this demonstrates that they have developed strong understandings from the ILA.


ACARA. (2011a). The Australian Curriculum: History rationale. Retrieved October 9, 2012, from

ACARA. (2011b). The Australian Curriculum: Foundation to year 10 curriculum. Retrieved October 9, 2012, from

American Association of School Librarians (2007). Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. Retrieved 19 September, 2012, from

Lupton, M. (2012a). CLN650 Information Learning Nexus: week 4 [lecture slides]. Retrieved from

Long. J. (2012c). Measuring Tape [image]. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from personal collection.

Lupton, M. (2012b). Inquiry Skills in the Australian Curriculum. Access (26)2, pp12-18. Retrieved August 19, 2012, from

Action Taken After Questionnaire One and Two

As a guest in the year four and five classroom, I did not want to approach the classroom teacher with a condescending manner, insult her teaching style or try to completely redesign her history unit. I discussed the best action I should take with other students in my university class through social media and found many of the comments useful and insightful. I was most interested with the idea of suggesting positive ideas and action to the teacher, rather then pointing out faults and instructing her on what she should do. I spent many hours deliberating over the students’ questionnaires, trying to pick themes and issues from the answers that needed addressing and structured my action and discussion in a constructive and productive approach.

I developed a list of the themes and issues that arose from the two questionnaires. From this I noted that many students had written similar responses to some of the questions on the questionnaires. My list was broken into three sections; observations, what students found easy to do and what students found difficult to do. Here I was able to structure my list and focus on the key themes and issues that arose from the questionnaires. I also took the opportunity to include key themes from my observation notes I had been taking over the past four weeks.

Through my social media discussion one student discussed perhaps bringing in an artefact into the classroom for the students to explore and ask questions about. An artifact would work well in the year four and five class as they enjoyed exploring a digital three-dimensional sailing ship, one of the first to sail to Australia, during a computer lab lesson. I discussed this idea with the school’s teacher-librarian and she found in the teacher resources two large historical posters. Although they were not traditional historical artifacts, I felt they would be as engaging as the three-dimensional sailing ship. The first poster was a map mapping out the routs the first explorers took from their homeland to the Great South Land.

The second poster I suggested the teacher could use was a poster of a sailing ship in full sail. I felt this allowed for students to visually understand and make connections with what they were learning, while aiding students to “…develop mental images of the past through engagement with primary sources” (Taylor & Young, Hastings, Hincks & Brown, 2003, p.15).

The poster also contained valuable information about life back in the 17 and 18th century that could form the basis of a class or group discussion and allow for students to read individually.

I noted in my observations that the classroom teacher did not take time to explain the inquiry process with her students, nor discuss where students were in the information search process (ISP). Students need to “…Follow an inquiry-based process in seeking knowledge in curricular subjects, and make the read-world connection for using this process in own life” (American Association of School Librarians, 2007, n.p). I feel it is important that students understand the steps involved in an inquiry unit and are made aware of where they are up to in the information search process. How are students able to inquire and think critically if they do not understand the information search process? To help resolve this issue I thought it would be a wonderful idea if students had their own copies of the ISP and were able to refer back to it when necessary to understand where they were at in their learning and what lay ahead for them.

While I was in the early stages of the information search phase of my own ISP, I discovered an article that I felt was very pertinent to the history unit the year four and five classroom teacher was teaching. The article, Making History: A guide for the teaching and learning of history in Australian schools (Taylor & Young, Hastings, Hincks & Brown, 2003) discusses the issues surrounding history teaching from historical bias to authentic learning experiences in history. As the classroom teacher was intent on teaching the students that there was a chronological order to early British and European exploration of Australia, this article contained a detailed discussion around historical time and chronological order with suggestions of classroom practice. I included this section of the article in the resources I gave to the classroom teacher.

I sat with the classroom teacher in a quiet room in the library and constructed my action more as a chat than a discussion. I did not want her to feel I was criticising her unit or her teaching style, rather suggesting some enhancements and assisting her to understand her students learning and understanding at this stage of the historical unit. In our chat we discussed my list and the key themes and issues I discovered from the questionnaires and observations. I discussed the positives from her unit such as her students working well together in collaborative groups and the high level of engagement students were showing during each lesson. I also discussed with the classroom teacher areas of their information search process students found easy to do and areas they found difficult. She was surprised to discover that many of her students were fixated on the trying to find the “right” answer and finding the right website to lead them to the “right” answer. From my observations and the students’ responses to the questionnaires, we discussed possible solutions. At this point in our chat, I introduced the two posters and ISP model. I was unsure if she would be pleased with my ISP model, however she felt it would work well with her students and was eager to include it in her unit. The classroom teacher graciously accepted the posters and felt they would be a wonderful addition to her classroom displays.

It has been a few weeks since I took action and chatted with the classroom teacher about the two questionnaires and my observations. I would be keen to discover if the classroom teacher has had the opportunity to implement any of my suggestions and how her students reacted to them. I hope that she has been successful in implementing some of my suggestions as they were designed and offered to help enhance the remainder of her unit and help her students become more successful in their ISPs.


Hargadon, S. (2012). The Inquiry Process [Image]. Retrieved September 2, 2012, from

Long, J. (2012a). Journey to The Great Southern Land [Image]. Retrieved from personal file.

Long, J. (2012b). H.M. Bark Endeavour [Image]. Retrieved from personal file.

Taylor, T., Young, C., Hastings, T., Hincks, P. & Brown, D. H. (2003). Making History: A guide for the teaching and learning of history in Australian schools [E version]. Retrieved from

Moving towards understanding: Second personal questionnaire

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

Building on my understandings from my first questionnaire, I now understand inquiry to be:

–        Inquiry learning is a process where studnets pose questions, seek out problems or issues that are meaningful and relivant to their own lives

–        Inquiry learning allows studnets to make meaning about the world they live in

–        Students go throug the information search process (ISP) to pose questions, research and search for infomration, refine the search to a specific topic, continue the search process, understand the information, present their findings and analyse or assess the learning and understandings

–        Inquiry learning is more than the shallow search for answers to questions. Students apply their understandings to new situations and use higher-order thinking to reflect on what they have learned.

–        To successfully implement inquiry in the classroom, it should be collaboratively implemented with the assistance of the teacher-librarian.

–        Inquiry learning can be structured inquiry, guided inquiry or independent inquiry. As students move through school, the level of inquiry should move towards independent inquiry.

–        The role of the teacher is to guide students through the inquiry process.

–        It is not always possible to allow students to pose their own questions and for the learning to follow students’ interests, however the teacher can guide the learning and allow students to pose their own questions within a teacher’s chosen subject

–        Questions are the key to the inquiry process

–        There are many strategies to teaching historical inquiry from hands on learning to understanding history through films.

–        Inquiry is an important part of the history curriculum. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (2011, n.p) defines history as, “…a disciplined process of inquiry into the past that develops students’ curiosity and imagination.”

2. How interested are you in this topic?  Check Y one box that best matches your interest.

Not at all          not much ☐    quite a bit  Y  a great deal ☐


3. How much do you know about this topic?  Check Y one box that best matches how much you know.

Nothing             not much     quite a bit Y   a great deal

4. Thinking of your research so far – what did you find easy to do? Please mention as many things as you like.

–        I am finding it easier to search for information through databases. I am feeling more confident when I am faced with an unknown database.

–        I understand Google Scholar far more than when I first began this unit and now find it easy to search for information through this database.

–        I am beginning to understand the use of Boolean operators and beginning to find it easier to search for information using Boolean operators.

–        Using a mind map helps me to understand the relationships between search terms and I find the map easy to revisit to find effect search terms to reuse.

–        I am building faith in my ability sort through search results to find relevant information.

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

–        While I am developing my search refining skills, I am still feeling overwhelmed when trying to refine my search results. Often this turns to frustration.

–        I am still finding it difficult to motivate myself to start researching. Once I have a flow happening I become engaged. It is the beginning that I have difficulty motivating myself. I need to find ways to engage myself during this beginning stage.

–        While I am working on finding a focus early on in my research, I have not perfected this yet and am still finding it difficult.

6.  How do you feel about your research so far? Check Y one box that best matches how you feel.

Frustrated – I can’t find what I want           

Overwhelmed – I’m finding it hard to sort through the information Y

Confused – I don’t really know what I’m looking for

Confident – I think I know where I’m heading

Understanding Inquiry Learning and Historical Inquiry

Over the past four to six weeks, I have collected information to help assist me to develop an in-depth understanding of inquiry learning. As the inquiry unit I am observing for my research is a history unit, I have also been searching and collecting information relating to historical inquiry and its implementation in middle primary school classrooms. Bellow is synthesis of information I have collected explaining inquiry learning, historical inquiry and its implementation in the middle primary school classrooms.

Questioning and inquiry is a powerful method that allows students to understand the world they are living in. Inquiry learning is an effective teaching pedagogy that allows students to ask questions, find and use a variety of ideas and information to enhance their understandings of topics, to solve problems, answer questions or resolve issues (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007). At the heart of inquiry learning, students’ natural curiously in conjunction with questioning should provide for ideal learning opportunities and allow for meaningful learning to occur (Harada & Yoshinda, 2004, October). As students gain confidence in finding their own answers, not only do they show they understand the subject matter, but how they apply their new understandings to different situations (Harada & Yoshinda, 2004, October).

During the inquiry process the teacher moves away from being the instructor to become a guide, someone who helps guide students through the inquiry process (Harada & Yoshinda, 2004, October). The inquiry process is not simply facilitated by the classroom teacher, rather, is a collaboration between the teacher and the teacher-librarian, who plan and guide students to build enhanced understandings of the world they live in (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007).

However, through the research I have retrieved, there is evidence that rote learning is continuing to play a large role in classroom teaching and learning (Harada & Yoshinda, 2004, October). In a society that demands creative problem solving and transferable knowledge and skills, does rote learning have any relevance? Chu, Tang, Chow & Tse (2007) suggest that in order to move away from rote learning and into inquiry learning, it is important to form a partnership with the teacher-librarian, as the teacher-librarian can assist teachers to move away from the outdated teaching pedagogy.

The unit of work in the year four and five class I am observing explores early British and European exploration of Australia. As it is a history unit my information search has been focused around historical inquiry. Inquiry as defined and discussed above can be implemented into a historical unit of inquiry, as the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (2011, n.p) defines history as, “…a disciplined process of inquiry into the past that develops students’ curiosity and imagination.” The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (2011) continues to state that historical inquiry is about using analysis skills and sourcing information to build and expand explanations and communication of history.

As with any inquiry, historical inquiry requires more than the shallow coverage and simple absorption of information; it involves an inquiry process that allows students to articulate their interpretations of historical information (Hartzler-Miller, 2001). Students cannot learn about history without deep examination of topics (Hartzler-Miller, 2001).

From the research I have gathered, students in the middle primary school years are able to participate in historical inquiry units through a range of strategies. When developing a historical inquiry unit, students can delve into a historical unit by building mental images of the past through investigations of primary sources (Taylor, Young, Hastings, Hincks & Brown, 2003). Students can ask “why?” and analyse a topic or problem from different angles by asking, “What is known?” “What is unknown?” “What would we find useful to know?” and “How do we find out more?” (Taylor, Young, Hastings, Hincks & Brown, 2003). Historians ask six key questions when examining historical artifacts, “Who?” “Where?” “What?” “When?” “How?” and “Why?” (History on the Net, 2010). While I have discussed in a pervious post The Historical Framework – Questions to ask a source that these questions lead to shallow understandings of historical artifacts. However, I believe that if the questions are structured correctly, students can develop deep and meaningful understandings about historical artifacts and thus, develop deeper understandings of history. As discussed above, it is important to develop partnerships to foster inquiry learning. Research has shown this is particularly important when implementing inquiry units with students in the middle years of primary school (Chu, 2008, January). Students can also explore history through film. As students in the middle years do not possess a high level of independent analytical skills, with scaffolding and a teacher-guided approach, students can pose and answer questions, analyse and evaluate the historical content and experience what an authentic application of history looks like (Woelders, 2007).

In conclusion, my research has shown that inquiry learning is a style of teaching and learning that allows students to pose and answer questions, solve problems and issues through retrieving and using information. It is the teacher’s role to guide student learning in partnership with the teacher-librarian, without instructing student learning. My research defines historical inquiry as “…a disciplined process of inquiry into the past that develops students’ curiosity and imagination” (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2011, n.p) and through my discussion there are visible links between historical inquiry and my earlier definition of inquiry learning. My research has also shown that there are several approaches that teachers can use when implementing historical inquiry in a middle primary year classroom.


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2011). The Australian Curriculum: History. Retrieved August 09, 2012, from

Chu, S. (2008, January). Grade 4 Students’ Development of Research Skills Through Inquiry-Based Learning Projects. School Libraries Worldwide, 14(1), 10-37. Retrieved from

Chu, S., Tang, Q., Chow, K. & Tse, S. (2007). A Study on Inquiry-based Learning in a Primary School Through Librarian-Teacher Partnerships. Retrieved from

Hartzler-Miller, C. (2001). Making Sense of “Best Practice” in Teaching History, Theory & Research in Social Education. Taylor & Francis, 29(4), 672-695. Retrieved from

Harada, V. & Yoshinda, J. (2004, October). Moving From Rote to Inquiry: Creating learning that counts. Library Media Connection, 23(2), 22-25.  Retrieved from

History on the Net. (2010). Historical Terms – Questions to ask a source [image]. Retrieved September 2, 2012, from

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, K. A. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Taylor, T., Young, C., Hastings, T., Hincks, P. & Brown, D. H. (2003). Making History: A guide for the teaching and learning of history in Australian schools [E version]. Retrieved from

Woelders, A. (2007). “It Makes You Think More When You Watch Things”: Scaffolding for historical inquiry using film in the middle school classroom. Social Studies, 98(4), p.145-152. Retrieved from