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Many educators view information inquiry as the foundation of all "traditional content areas." Rather than focusing on individual skills, teachers prefer to use a problem-solving or inquiry-based approach to the process of working with information and creating communication. Others focus on a subset of skills and call these study or research skills.

Researchers and practioners have designed models to illustrate how teachers and learners act in information inquiry situations. Other models have been developed for processes such as instructional design, thinking, and writing.

History of Information Search and Inquiry Models

During the 1980s educators and librarians experienced a surge of interest in information skills. At the peak of the HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills) movement, educators were finding that a process approach to information inquiry could be found across the curriculum.

By the late 1980s and early 1990s, informational skills became a focus of many researchers. Much of this research was shared at the annual Treasure Mountain Research Retreats.

In the 1990s, the models began to stress the ongoing cycle of inquiry. Rather than a series of separate steps, educators began to see the process as involving recusive elements and ongoing questioning, exploration, and investigation.

Recursion in Models

According to Sandy L. Guild (2003) in Curriculum Connections through the Library edited by Stripling and Hughes-Hassell, "Recursion, or this repeated application of a research procedure to the results of a prior procedure, is invoked any time the research determines that the emerging complex of relationships has undeveloped area, logical errors, or incongruitites" (p. 141). Unfortunately, when educators teach about the research process it's often "presented in a fashion that leads students to assume that the process is linear" (p 142). In the "real world" research is messy. Students often revisit steps over and over again.

Skim a great blog posting on the topic of recursion at the blog, The Bottom of the Pile.

eye means readRead Modeling Recursion in Research Process Instruction (PDF) by Sandy L. Guild in Curriculum Connections through the Library edited by Stripling and Hughes-Hassell. This article is password protected. Use the same password you use to access course videos. Email your instructor if you have trouble.

arrow means linkExplore each of the following pages to learn more about each of the models. The specific models can be found on the following pages:

Information Search and Use Models

Information Inquiry Models

Discipline-Specific Models

Regardless of the label, most educators agree that teaching information literacy as a process is the best approach to addressing the essential knowledge, skills, and attitudes. We've done a comparison of many of these information processing or information inquiry models using Inspiration. This comparison is available in PDF format.

This page explores the most popular information inquiry models. Many of these websites contain examples and sample projects. The resources will guide you to resources designed for teachers and links for students.

It's helpful if a building or school district can agree on a single model or at least the general steps in information inquiry. This way, the media specialists and content-area teachers can all be using the same vocabulary with students. It's also helpful for students to see that information inquiry crosses the entire curriculum. Rather than forming a special committee, the media specialist might work through the district curriculum committees to address this issue.

video clipView Information Process (3:35).

In this video, two students work on a tornado project. The leadership of a library media specialist guides them through the information process to revise their project. – Excerpt from “Knowing What to Do”, Pt. 2 of Know It All Series by GPN / Univ. of NB

Use of this video clip complies with the TEACH act and US copyright law. You should be a registered student to view the video.

try itExplore a comparison of models (PDF) using Daniel Callison's components as the guide by Katie Baker.

eye means readRead Chapter 3: Information Search and Use Models in THE BLUE BOOK by Callison and Preddy, p. 36-49.

eye means readRead Chapter 4: Models for Information Inquiry, Composition, and Scientific Method in THE BLUE BOOK by Callison and Preddy, p. 50-68.

eye means readRead Appendix B: Information Inquiry Elements in THE BLUE BOOK by Callison and Preddy, p. 584-596.

OPTIONAL: Read Chapter 7: Modeling Recursion in Research Process Instruction by Sandy L. Guild in Curriculum Connections through the Library edited by Barbara K. Stripling & Sandra Hughes-Hassell

LambLamb's Latitudes
Everyone seems to have a model for information inquiry. I even created one. Although you can follow a model that someone else developed, it makes sense to adapt these to fit your own teaching and learning style. Students can develop their own model as they reflect on their inquiry. As you explore each model, create a list of those elements that you like the best in each. Then, develop your own adapted approach.

What's your personal model? In other words, when you do personal research do you really follow one of these approaches or do you follow your own path? I really get into concept maps. I even made them for this course for the models comparison, Ws, and course map. When I was making the decision to graduate from high school two years early, I remember making painstaking comparison charts and alternative future maps. I listed the pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, and alternative scenarios. Do you do this in your life?

Learn More

Comparisons of Models

Comparison of Information Skills Process Models

Comparison of Information Skills Process Models

Other Models

21st Century Literacies from ATT Knowledge Network Explorer. Includes lessons for building key skills: questioning, identifying and collecting, evaluating, sensemaking, reflecting and refining, using, and assessing.

Information Seeking Behavior Model from Baltimore County Public Schools. A critical thinking and information literacy process model with instructional tools.

Articles and Websites

Eisenberg, Michael B. & Brown, Michael K. (Winter 1992). Current Themes Regarding Library and Information Skills Instruction: Research Supporting and Research Lacking. SLMQ, Vol, 20, Number 2.

Information Literacy for K-16 Settings

Kuhlthau, Carol (1993). Implementing a Process Approach to Information Skills: A Study Identifying Indicators of Success in Library Media Programs. SLMQ, 22(1).

Murray, Donald M. (1982). Writing as a Process: How Writing Finds Its Own Meaning. In Learning by Teaching: Selected Articles on Writing and Teaching. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Oberg, Dianne (1999) Teaching the research process - for discovery and personal growth. Paper presented at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Available: http://www.ifla.org/IV/ifla65/papers/078-119e.htm

Shaw, Rosemary (July 1, 2003). Teaching Students How To Do Online Research. TechLearning.

Stanley, Deborah B. (2000). Practical Steps to the Research Process for Middle School. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Thomas, Nancy Pickering (1999, 2004). Information Literacy and Information Skills Instruction: Applying Research to Practice in the Library Media Center. 2nd Edition. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

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