When I first saw Kuhlthau’s Model of the Information Search Process,  (Figure 1), it was a light bulb moment for me. I had frequently experienced the affective process but had never really given it due consideration as an important part of the learning process. This was an “a-ha” insight as I now had the vocabulary to describe what I experienced each time I embarked on new learning. I would have liked to have discovered this model a week earlier as whilst I was doing an ILA observation I watched students really grappling with feelings of frustration and the teacher experiencing increasing doubt and it would have been great to reflect on this model and discuss how normal and even expected these feelings were. Oh well, the benefits of hindsight, this will form part of my ILA recommendations for future practice.

Figure 1. Kuhlthau’s Model of Information Search Process. Kuhlthau et al. (1997 p, 19).

My search process paralleled each of the stages in Kuhlthau’s model in the following ways:-

  • INITIATION. When I first started to examine the concept of inquiry I had some vague notions about it but as questionnaire 1 reflects, there was a lot of uncertainty. I had heard and read some things and thought I could remember others but was generally unsure exactly what inquiry learning meant or looked like in a classroom. When I completed my wordle I really became aware of my lack of knowledge and some feelings of apprehension began to creep in.
  • SELECTION. As I viewed the mini lectures and participated in the weekly tutorials and started to develop an understanding what inquiry learning was about I began to feel more optimistic. Perhaps I should have looked more closely at the model as I didn’t realise that this feeling would be (very!) brief. However I was armed with enough information to start some research on my ILA.
  • EXPLORATION…this was when the trouble started! I found enormous amounts of information that was pertinent to my ILA- science in the primary curriculum, but I was becoming more confused in the process. Some of the information was conflicting and I hadn’t initially realised the wide scope of activities that fall under the banner of Inquiry. The breadth and depth of the information was overwhelming. In addition to this, I kept coming across articles about how teacher-librarians are essential collaborative partners in the inquiry process.
  • FORMULATION. So…. after much deliberation about what I wanted to achieve from this subject and approval from she who knows all (Mandy), I finally decided to make the teacher-librarian collaboration aspect the focus of my research. This gave me clarity and marked a return to feelings of optimism and confidence. This confidence was again diminished though when I started to use new technology and the exploration stage started all over again in relation to this aspect of the task requirements.

  • COLLECTION. Once I had a focus for my research that I was happy with I continued with information seeking with a definite sense of clarity. There were still some ‘crises of confidence’ along the way but nothing as marked as during the exploration stage. I became increasingly interested in the Inquiry process, particularly in the problems associated with implementing authentic inquiry into the classroom. This became another ‘mini’ focus area for me.
  • PRESENTATION. The presentation stage really occurred for me when I had completed the mini-essay. I experienced a feeling of satisfaction as I had been able to synthesize all those previously garbled thoughts into a coherent document. I had conveyed what was important to me from the literature and devised how, as a future teacher-librarian I would be able to put this learning to use.
  • ASSESSMENT. A sense of accomplishment (and relief) was experienced when all of this information was published on my blog.


Although I experienced all of the stages in Kuhlthau’s model, my ISP deviated from it in that it was not a linear progression. I would continually revisit the exploration and collection stages and the associated feelings of confusion and doubt were mixed in with moments of clarity. I also needed to continually reflect on what I was feeling and where I was at in the information seeking process. It is for these reasons that my ISP, although paralleling Kuhlthau’s stages, is more accurately represented by The Alberta Inquiry Model which I will discuss further in a later blog post.


Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. And Caspari, A. (2007) Guided Inquiry: learning in the 21st century school. Westport: Greenwood. Retrieved September 8 from


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s