Learning Standards & Program Guidelines Implementation Toolkit


The second common belief in the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner states that "inquiry provides a framework for learning" (AASL 2007, 2). While there are many models and variations of inquiry learning, essentially it represents a shift in how we educate students. This approach to learning is an active one that is driven by student wonder and questioning. Students, from connecting to prior knowledge, develop purposeful and meaningful questions that engage them in the investigation for answers. In this pursuit, students learn and use skills to gather information, evaluate information, and apply information to create new knowledge, and reflect to create new understandings. For school librarians, the classroom content and local curricula provide vehicles for students to apply inquiry skills and further their learning.

The inquiry approach is focused on developing the skills to think, to learn, and to solve problems, no matter what the context. In the current rapidly changing information environment, such skills have emerged as critical for today's learners. The AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner reflect this shift from the narrow focus of information literacy toward the broader high-order thinking inquiry skills needed by 21st-century learners.

Online Resources

Additional Resources

  • The January 2010 issue of School Libraries Worldwide featured inquiry as its thematic focus: “Inquiry-Based Learning for 21st Century Teaching.”

  • Pappas, Marjorie L. 2009. “Inquiry and 21st Century Learning.” School Library Media Activities Monthly 25, no.9 (May), 49–51.

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