ILP and the Information Search Process

26 Mar

By the time the four of us started discussing Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP) and Guided Inquiry (GI), Meg had already created and used her initial version of the Inquiry Learning Plan (ILP).  During our work for our school’s 1-1 computing pilot, Meg began to talk to Marci and me about the principles of ISP and GI. We realized that what she was attempting had much in common with what Marci and I were so passionate about bringing to Hunterdon Central, and these frameworks have informed many of our discussions about the ILP since.

The ISP was the framework I had learned while studying for my library degree at Rutgers.  ISP is one of the foundations of the Guided Inquiry Design Framework (which we will discuss in a future post), and it still serves as an important part of our teaching.  Unlike other processes, it includes not only the actions of successful researchers for each stage but also the associated thoughts and feelings.  The framework also highlights common stumbling points during which students need more support and scaffolding.  The ISP framework was developed after the study of how people research – not just students but also people whose jobs depended upon the quality of their research.

For more information about each stage, visit Dr. Kuhlthau’s website.

One of the initial steps in the process of using the ILP is being open with students about the process they are about to follow.  This allows us to discuss ways to move past stumbling points successfully and provides a common language to discuss the research process.  As mentioned previously, it also gives students permission to feel uncomfortable and to realize that this uncomfortable feeling is simply how it feels to learn. For many of our students, the discomfort becomes a sign of learning rather than something to fear.  As one junior student stated,

At first everything is going to seem very confusing and unclear, but like Carol Kuhlthau says “we need to go through a period of uncertainty before we can earn clarity and a sense of accomplishment!”

Learning is hard and messy.  ISP and GI illustrate this to students and provide frameworks to support students along the way.

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