How do the dimensions of quality teaching relate to inquiry learning and project-based learning approaches?

According to The Australian School Library Association’s (2009) policy statement on resource based learning and the curriculum, there is a change in teaching practice away from the traditional teaching role towards the teacher as a facilitator of learning. 

I find the differences between inquiry learning, project based learning and problem based learning to be quite subtle.  The common element between them all is that the teacher is a facilitator of learning with the students as the driving force.  This does require that the students are proactive and take responsibility for their own learning (O’Connell, n.d.).

Examine this same question from the pedagogical perspective your school or education system is currently employing. 

My school does not have a unified pedagogical approach to teaching.  Each faculty works differently and each individual  teacher uses different teaching techniques.  This is beneficial in that, as all students do not learn in the same way, all teachers do not have the same teaching style.  A unified pedagogical approach would be too constrictive in terms of the teachers but also in terms of being able to differentiate learning for varying learning styles.  However, there is a slow and subtle shift towards constructivism across the faculties in the school.  This movement is somewhat limited by the rigid assessment policies and timetables that are in place but there are ways around this.

What is an appropriate role for the TL in curriculum development?

As seen in the video Highly Effective School Librarians Cultivate 21st Century Learners (Colorado State Library, 2011.), “A highly effective school librarian teaches students how to locate, select, evaluate and synthesize information”.  That is, the role of the teacher librarian is to equip students with the skills necessary to undertake their own learning.  These skills are transferable.  This is ‘lifelong learning’ in action.  Collins et. al. (2008) suggest that scaffolding and supporting resources are important in project based learning.  This is an area in which the TL should be collaborating with the classroom teacher.

Should a Principal expect that teachers would plan units of work with the TL?

Herring (2007), in his list of the multi-faceted role of the teacher librarian, lists curriculum leader and instructional partner.  If we accept this, then a school Principal should absolutely expect that teachers plan units of work with the TL. ASLA (2003) focuses on curriculum leader as one of the three main roles of the TL (Herring, 2007).  The Canadian guidelines also focus on TLs as teacher collaborators (Herring, 2007).  However, in order to fulfill this role, the TL does need the support of the Principal.

What benefits can a school obtain from the active involvement of the TL in curriculum development?  How are students disadvantaged in schools that exclude the TL from curriculum development?

Herring (2007) cites a number studies which have demonstrated that the students in schools with active TLs who collaborate with classroom teachers demonstrate increased learning.  Conversely, in schools that exclude TLs from curriculum development, student learning is, if not decreased, then somewhat stymied.

“The school media specialist is in the unique position to help classroom teachers differentiate instruction.” (Lamb, 2011, p.33)  As TLs, we have the skills to enhance student learning. 


Australian School Library Association. (2009). Statement on resource based learning and the curriculum. Retrieved from

Collins, T. et al  (2008, 7-10 October) Supporting location-based inquiry learning across school, field and home contexts.  In Proceedings of the MLearn 2008 Conference,
 Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire, UK.

Colorado State Library. [coloradolibraries].  (2011, July, 27). Highly Effective School Librarians Cultivate 21st Century Learners [Video file]. Retrieved from

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.

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette. TechTrends, 55(4), 27-36.

O’Connell, J. (Producer). (n.d.) Teacher Librarian and the Curriculum [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from