"Once in a Blue Moon": Reflections on collaboration in inquiry learning between teachers and teacher librarians

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Concern for the educational attainments of Australian students in international and national testing (Australian Council for Education Research 2019) continues in a time of reduced funding for school libraries (Softlink 2018)and a steady decrease in teacher librarian (TL) positions (Godfree & Neilson 2018). Simultaneously, there is a focus on the need for curriculum... that supports teachers to nurture wonder,ignite passion and provide every young person with knowledge, skills and attributes that will help prepare them for a lifetime of learning, meaningful adult employment and effective future citizenship (NESA 2020b). Inquiry learning is one way to nurture wonder,passion, questioning and discovery. It is a key element in the NSW Educational Standards Authority (NESA) Curriculum Review Report (2020a), though slightly watered down in the NSW government response (NESA 2020b), in the sense that the mooted senior inquiry project is only noted, rather than accepted.The research reported in this paper arose from previous research investigating Guided Inquiry units (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari 2007, 2012, 2015) with secondary students from 2015 (FitzGerald 2015; FitzGerald & Garrison 2016; Garrison & FitzGerald 2017; Garrison, FitzGerald, & Sheerman 2018). Guided Inquiry is a research-based inquiry process and pedagogy, one of the many information models teachers and TLs can choose. These studies shared the voice of students recounting their experiences of inquiry learning using Guided Inquiry pedagogy. Findings highlighted that the success of the students often depended on the collaborative relationship of teachers and TLs. This led us to investigate inquiry learning from the perspective of this teaching team. The purpose of the present research study was twofold: 1. to find out the frequency of collaboration between TLs and teachers in inquiry learning (Phase 1); and2. to explore the nature of collaboration between TLs and teachers in the planning,delivery and assessment phases of inquiry learning (Phase 2).This study used a phenomenological design to investigate the relationship between teachers and TLs whilst engaged in a collaborative inquiry project with their students.Research questions were: What types of inquiry-based learning methods are being used by Australian TLs? How is collaboration between TLs and teachers being implemented in inquiry units during the planning, delivery, and assessing stages? What are the elements of successful and unsuccessful collaborative inquiry units identified by TLs and teachers from the planning, delivery, and assessing stages? How do TLs and teachers describe and perceive their shared experiences whilst engaged in an inquiry unit through the planning, delivery, and assessing stages?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-19
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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