GI Theory

This section covers the theory behind Guided Inquiry, presenting a sample of readings, presentations and links between the Australian Curriculum and Guided Inquiry.

An overarching description of Guided Inquiry is at GI Practice in this blog. Some of the concepts emerging in Guided Inquiry since 2012 and the publication of Guided Inquiry design: A framework for inquiry in your school (Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A.) are briefly mentioned below.  For further detail, see the book as well as new publications, as follows – Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. & Caspari, A. (2015); and Maniotes, L., Harrington, L. & Lambusta, P (2015)

Concepts in Guided Inquiry: The two processes – ISP and GID


The Information Search Process:

Syba Digital. Guided Inquiry Design in action: Middle school downloadable resources. Adapted with permission from Guided Inquiry Design in action: Middle school/ Leslie K. Maniotes, LaDawna Harrington, and Patrice Lambusta: Foreword by Carol Kuhlthau, Libraries Unlimited, Copyright 2016.

Pictured above are the two processes in Guided Inquiry. At the top is the Information Search Process (ISP). Some of the critical points about the ISP follow:

  • There is at least one stage of confusion, frustration and doubt that arises in the research process.
  • It is essential to allow students time to develop their own “take” on the curriculum topic, in order for them to engage with it – From Initiation to Formulation. If a student doesn’t engage with a topic, it’s more than possible to move from Initiation to Collection. It is then that we get the copy and paste syndrome, so wasteful of student and teacher time.

At the bottom of the diagram is the GID process.  This is intended to be used by teaching teams to create, schedule, implement, and assess the inquiry unit.  It also describes what the Inquiry community (the class) is doing at any given point, while giving students simple verbs to describe their process.  The ISP and GID processes combined underlie GI, and can be written thus (ISP/GID).

The ISP is what any individual will do when researching, (so it’s what each student does in an inquiry) and GID process is what  the class, teachers and teacher librarians do in the creation and process of a GI.

Other essential GI concepts: 

  • Third space – finding the intersection between school curriculum and the student’s interests and ways of knowing.
  • Inquiry community/Inquiry circles: Collaboration and communication drive Guided Inquiry, particularly in the use of inquiry community/Inquiry circles – Responsibility is also key here.
  • 6Cs: Collaboration, Conversation, Composition, Choosing, Charting and Continuing
  • Culmination conversations.
  • Journals, logs and inquiry charts – the stuff of information literacy
  • Continuous reflection and feedback – the stuff of learning to learn/metacognition.


  • Kuhlthau, C., Information Search Process. Retrieved from:
  • Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. & Caspari, A. (2015) Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st century, 2nd edition. Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited
  • Maniotes, L., Harrington, L., & Lambusta, P. (2015) Guided Inquiry design in action: Middle school.  Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited. 
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