Tales of a budding librarian

A discussion of pedagogy and inquiry based learning relating to TLs

The teacher librarian (TL) has a unique skill set in which they are proficient at both the role of the librarian as well as that of the teacher. As part of the TL’s teacher training and expertise, they must be conversant with effective educational pedagogy. There have been strong pushes and reform movements in education for teachers to implement effective methods of instruction that engage and motivate students, equipping them with the desire to learn. This is in line with research which affirms that teachers are the most important factor for student success within schools (Department of Education and Training, ACT, 2003). Effective pedagogies often overlap, and include:

• Quality teaching models, where subject content needs to be significant to students to facilitate interest and make learning connections, there needs to be a quality learning environment, where students know expectations and are engaged in the learning process, and intellectual quality, where students need to actively construct knowledge and communicate about their learning (McLeod & Reynold, 2007).

• Constructivism, which tends to encompass inquiry based learning, where students are guided to ask relevant questions, rather than be passive recipients to knowledge dissemination (Edutechwiki, 2010); and resource-based learning, where students are encouraged to become self-directed learners, who utilise resources to problem solve, evaluate and communicate findings (School Library Association of Queensland, 2008). The questions that arise from students during this process, act as their learning conduit (Owens, Hester & Teale, 2002). Inquiry-based learning is a core feature of many state and national recommended pedagogies, for example, the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (2007) and the newly released Australian National Curriculum (ACARA, 2012).

• ‘Authentic Pedagogy’, whereby the process of active learning and constructivism is also considered in term of the intellectual quality of work (Ladwig, Smith, Gore, Amosa & Griffiths, 2007).

• Project-based learning, in which students lead their own learning via self-directed inquiry, collaboration, research and problem solving to develop a project which demonstrates this process and knowledge (Bell, 2010).

• Andragogy, or the facilitation of adult learning, which focuses on the need for adult learners to know why they are learning, is authentic (based in real life) and involves problem solving (Knowles, 1984).

Understanding of pedagogy benefits the TL in their role as both teacher of children and adults. Firstly, teacher librarians help shape learning experiences as part of their collaboration with teachers, thus subsequently there lies the opportunity to direct the learning of students (Herring, 2007). The teacher librarian is further equipped to teach information literacy effectively, as they work across all age ranges thus have contact with the entire school, must know the interests and needs of all students in order to adequately resource and program library experiences, and must be acquainted with the curriculum of all classes within the school, thus can individualise teaching to the learning needs of students from a range of backgrounds (Lamb, 2011).

Consequently, involving TLs in curriculum development can only enhance the ability of teachers to facilitate inquiry learning, and direct teachers to resources that will engage and motivate their 21stC learners. Jointly planning units can only foster positive and collaborative relationships with teachers, and enhance the professional visibility and value of the TL as profession. In terms of effects on students, Lamb (2011) discusses that a major role of the TL is in striking connections with all teaching staff. This enables them to direct teachers to appropriate resources, model the effective use of information literacy skills and technology and to link in with planning, programming and curriculum decisions, in order to have influence on these, and share knowledge, skills and ideas, which will ultimately result in student impact (Haycock, 2007).

Applying this to my own workplace, there is a great deal of focus on effective educational theories relating to teaching students with an ASD, however teaching is highly structured as students with ASD can experience difficulty with unstructured learning experiences. The challenge for teachers is how to implement inquiry based learning for all students. Having a TL experienced working with students with additional needs would greatly assist with this!


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (2012). General Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum. Sydney: Author.

Bell, S. (2010). Project-Based Learning for the 21st Century: Skills for the Future. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 83(2), pp39-43.

Department of Education and Training (2004). Teachers: The Key to Student Success: A Discussion Paper for ACT Government Schools. Tuggeranong: Author. Retrieved 20th August, 2012 at www.det.act.gov.au/_data/assets/pdf_file/0009/17964/sei_TeachersKeyToStudentSucces.pdf

Edutechwiki (2010). Inquiry Based Learning. Retrieved online 19th August, 2012 at edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Inquiry-based_learning

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical Success Factors for Student Learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), pp25-35.

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp.27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University

Knowles, M. (1984). The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species (3rd Ed.). Houston: Gulf Publishing.

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), pp27-36.

McLeod, J. H. & Reynolds, R. (2007). Quality Teaching for Quality Learning: Planning Through Reflection. South Melbourne: Thomson.

Ladwig, J. G., Smith, M., Gore,J., Amosa, W. & Griffiths, T. (2007). Quality of pedagogy and student achievement: multilevel replication of authentic pedagogy. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education Conference, Fremantle, 25-29, November, 2007.

Owens, R. F., Hester, J. L. & Teale, W. H. (2002). Where do you want to go today? Inquiry-based learning and technology integration. The Reading Teacher 55(7), pp616-625.

The School Library Association of Queensland. (2008). Resource-Based Learning. Retrieved online via Google Cache 20th August, 2012 from http://www.slaq.org.au/advocacy/scool_library_management/rbl.htm?print=1

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. (2007). Victorian Essential Learning Standards- Inquiry Learning. Retrieved 21st August 2012 from http://vels.vcaa.vic.edu.au/support/wholeschool/program/inquiry.html

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