thing 8: Research as Inquiry

Recommended Readings, Resources, and Examples

Badia, G. (2016). Question formation: A teachable art. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 23(2), 210-216.

Fuchs, B. and Sharp, D. (2015). From Pints to Barrels: Helping Topic-Focused Students See the Bigger Picture.  LOEX Annual Conference.

Choose Your Own Adventure Activity

Select one of the following activities to complete:

  1. Locate an example of an article or lesson plan that describes an approach to teaching using the frame Research as Inquiry. In a comment, post a link to the article or lesson plan (or a citation if paywalled) along with a short summary of what you read. How could you adapt or build upon this approach at your own institution?
  2. Drawing inspiration from one of the recommended readings, draft your own lesson plan related to the frame Research as Inquiry. Upload your lesson plan to Project CORA and/or the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Sandbox, and post a link to it here.


  1. Students tend to come to the Research Desk and state they need x number of sources for their paper. When we find the number needed, they say, “Thanks; that’s enough.” I stress that once they read the sources, they may need additional sources because one or two of the articles/books/documents selected may not meet their needs.

    I found this lesson in the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Sandbox: “Picking Your Topic IS Research,” contributed by Jesse Lopez, Librarian at NC State University:

    This brief video focuses on the research process and the necessity of leaving enough time to rethink the topic and to conduct further research if the initial topic and/or search results either do not provide enough information or provide too many results. The video illustrates the iterative nature of research and that picking the topic is not only a step in the writing process, but an element of research as well.


  2. Keeping in mind the recommended readings, and the Research as Inquiry poster from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Andersen Library, I initially selected Inform Your Thinking Library Tutorials: It’s All About the Questions ( from the ACRL Sandbox. It is part of a series of videos, from Oklahoma State University, that keep appearing in my search results, most likely because they have separated each framework into its own unit, and they are applicable to the community college level.


    But then I researched further and plan to use Crime Scene Investigation as an Analogy for Scholarly Inquiry (, also from the ACRL Sandbox. “This lesson plan from Teaching Information Literacy Threshold Concepts, edited by Patricia Bravender, Hazel McClure, and Gayle Schaub and contributed by Robert Farrell, provides students with a practical analogy for scholarly inquiry using an example they are all familiar with, crime scene investigation.”

    This lesson plan fits well with the Research as Inquiry frame, and I will try it out as is. Many students are well aware of the CSI series and understand the process that goes into solving cases. I would divide students into groups, with those knowledgeable of CSI and/or crime scene investigation being grouped with those less familiar with the series.

    I would stress that as they acquire new knowledge during the research process that the focus of their questions will change based on this new knowledge. I would also mention that they shouldn’t get “stuck” on one track, but be open to new possibilities.


  3. I think this frame is one of the most important frames, particularly in light of the “fake news” terms being splashed around by various constituencies.
    I browsed the slides, and this quote from Practices that Provide Effective Academic Challenge for First year Students” resonated with me: “The process of critically examining different perspectives meant students began viewing knowledge as less certain or absolute.”
    I think this is an important aspect of lifelong learning…challenging yourself, your bias, and thinking critically (or at least being open to it.)
    I looked at 2 different lesson plans: Crime Scene Investigation as an Analogy for Scholarly Inquiry ( and the 2015 CARLI Instruction Showcase presentation by Chelsea Van Riper (
    Each of these approaches seemed practical for using in a classroom setting by either librarians or by a classroom instructor. The Crime Scene Investigation was quite clever and directly relates research to “solving” a crime (I use somewhat of this analogy myself–I talk about gathering evidence and making your case with the students.)


    • Part 2: In the CARLI example, the author uses a prescribed method to help students get to a good research question, focusing on the Why? and How? questions (the example she uses is the protests in Ferguson). They do peer work, go through a libguide in class, and walk through creating a good research question. Using the Who, What, Where, When, Why, How questions on the topic help the students to see the Research as Inquiry frame and how it helps students to hone their research into questions that are more developed.
      I like both of these approaches–I could use both pretty much as is in the right setting. I am more drawn to the crime scene analogy lesson plan. I think to adapt it I would talk through the analogy, and then decide on a research question/topic (such as the Ferguson riots one) that we would work through as a class with maybe pauses for student participation. Then I would leave enough time for them to work on their own research topics if that was needed.


  4. I like an activity mentioned in “Where Visual and Information Literacies Meet: Redesigning Research Skills Teaching and Assessment for Large Art History Survey Courses” (

    An image is shown on the screen and students ask questions about it! So simple yet something I never thought of until I read the article. The authors talk about using a web app, Lina, to have students ask questions and post them for others to see in real time. This or just writing them on the board would work. I haven’t tried this myself yet but I look forward to doing so. Students often don’t realize this is an integral part to their research process!


    • I have tried to use this idea:

      in a revised format about twice this semester with limited success. It was an attempt to have the students explore, learn, and explain different parts of the databases their professors wanted to cover. What I would like to try next time is a version of the lesson plan the article shared with creating Research Questions. Many of our instruction sessions are scheduled when students are trying to refine or decide on their individual research questions. I want to see if I can have the students help each other craft good research questions. Since the professor will want the students to work on the assignment at hand, using predefined keywords (as described in the first reading) may not be a welcome suggestion for an activity. There are a few professors I can work with who may be open to the idea.

      The passing would have 5 passes, or a combination that makes sense based on the assignment of the professor. Who, What, When, Where, and Why, as well as a section to suggest and add different keywords or themes to explore. One factor that I need to examine is if there are 18 individual research questions, or 4-5 group projects. This will impact how the assignment can be organized.



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