Final Reflections

One of the great advantages that has come out of this unit has been the SLIM toolkit. I found it extremely valuable in my action research cycle and I plan to incorporate it (or another version of it) in my future practice. With that being said, I’m going to reflect on my learning journey using the toolkit myself…

Click image too see reflection.

The beginning of my research journey. Image source: author's own

The beginning of my research journey. Image source: author’s own

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Findings

As discussed in the Methodology post, data was collected for this research using a modified version of the SLIM toolkit. The findings displayed below, and available here, are based on the responses students gave in reaction to three questionnaires (Q1, Q2 & Q3) they received at the beginning, middle and end of their ILA. Unfortunately not all students were able to complete the questionnaires at each stage and as a result only six students completed the midway point questionnaire. More responses to Q2 would have provided a more complete indication of what action should be taken to improve the quality of the ILA.

Nevertheless trends did become apparent through each questionnaire as discussed below:

 

Question 1 Take some time to think about your topic. Now write full sentences to show what you know about it.

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.07.23 pm

 

Questionnaire 1 (Q1) was completed by 23 students, the highest number of all three questionnaires, and this is indicated in the number of overall responses compared with the other two questionnaires. Only one student provided an explanation statement, but as this was the beginning of the unit of Inquiry, this is not unusual or unexpected. Unfortunately only six students completed questionnaire 2 (Q2) and hence there is only a small data set to draw conclusions from. However, there were more fact statements recorded per student in Q2 which suggests that students were gathering and retaining new facts as they progressed through the unit. 15 students completed Q3 and the number of fact responses suggests that the students have indeed learned and retained new information. It would have been interesting to see the the results of the entire class group had that been possible. Only two explanation statements and no conclusion statements were made, even at the end of the ILA, which was disappointing. It was expected that by the end of the Inquiry, students would be making deeper connections and asking more higher-order questions. This may have been due to the students’ topic choice, their method of questioning and potentially a lack of information on the topic being available to them.

 

Question 2 How interested are you in this topic?

 

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Relative to the number of students who completed the questionnaires, topic interest was high at each stage of the Inquiry. This is probably due to the fact that students were allowed to choose their own topic and therefore had a vested interest in it. Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari (2007, p. 24) suggest that Guided Inquiry at the primary school level should involve the natural ways in which children learn as well as involving their own interests and merging with the child’s own world.  The students in this study generally chose Inquiry topics that were of interest to them and connected to them in some way e.g. a student who had a connection to Queensland, chose to investigate the Royal Queensland Show.

 

Question 3 How much do you know about this topic?

 

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The surveys show that student knowledge increased over time. When reviewing each of the questionnaires it is clear that students gained more knowledge over the course of the ILA and this is evident in the amount of fact statements per student in Q3, which increased considerably from Q1. It is unfortunate that there were very few explanation and no conclusion statements made which may suggest that although the students were able to learn more facts about the topic, they did not engage with their topic on a deeper level. Kuhlthau, Heinstrom & Todd (2008) suggest that students who remain at a descriptive level and collect superficial facts tend to experience more negative emotions throughout the inquiry process. It would have been interesting to see if this correlation was indeed true but unfortunately there were only six respondents to Q2, which was too small a data set from which to draw definitive conclusions.

 

For questions 4 & 5 the results were coded according to Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy:

 

Information Seeking: relates to searching for information on the web or through informative texts and connects to Bloom’s remembering taxonomy.

Information Analysis: relates to student responses regarding the understanding of the information they retrieved throughout the inquiry process.

Information Synthesis: relates to applying, analysing, evaluating and creating. This includes putting the information found into their own words and translating that into a finished piece of work.

Other: includes comments such as “tiping” (sic), “finishing my work” and coming across blocked websites.

blooms-taxonomy-revised

Image source:  http://kencito54.wordpress.com/

Question 4 What do you find easy to do? (in relation to research)

 

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Students indicated that they found Information Seeking the easiest to do when engaging in the Information Search Process (ISP). The reason for this may be that the students in this study have direct and easy access to the Internet via classroom PCs and iPads both at home and at school and it is the ease with which they are able to access and consume information that “has changed students’ conceptions of the research process, in that they expect to find information quickly and without effort” (Kuhlthau, Heinstrom, & Todd, 2008). Information Seeking remained the students’ perceived easiest element of the research process across all three questionnaires.

 

Question 5 What do you find hard to do? (in relation to research)

 

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In Q1 students identified Information Analysis as the hardest aspect of the ISP. Comments such as: “when you do research you have to write down your facts“-Tamsyn, and “to find a website that has the information I need“-Natasha, were common. This suggests that although students found it easy to find information and websites, they then had difficulty understanding the information being presented to them and they had difficulty in identifying sites that would provide them with the information they required for their particular topic or research question. Although there were less respondents to Q3 than Q1 students identified less difficulty with Information Analysis and Information Synthesis at the end of the inquiry process. This could be a product of the guidance and modeling provided by the classroom teacher throughout the process as well as students becoming more competent at selecting information appropriate to their topic and refining their search strategies throughout the inquiry process (Kuhlthau, Heinstrom & Todd, 2008). Awareness of searching strategies and methods is often accompanied by increased confidence (Kuhlthau, Heinstrom & Todd, 2008) and this is reflected in the students responses to question six in Q3.

 

Question 6 (Q2 only) How do you feel about your research so far?

 

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As stated previously, only six students completed Q2 and so it is difficult to measure the results of this particular question. Kuhlthau, Heinstrom & Todd (2008) suggest that it is common during the midpoint of the ISP for students to feel overwhelmed as they retrieve too much and often conflicting information. Confidence is equally balanced by confusion and a sense of being overwhelmed in this graph however, had the entire class had the opportunity to complete the questionnaire I believe the results would have been skewed to the more negative end of the scale which is normal at this stage of the process.

 

Question 7 (Q3 only) What did you learning in doing this research project?

 

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Most of the respondents to Q3 indicated topic facts as their learning outcomes of the Inquiry unit. Although there were an increased number of fact statements compared with Q1 there were only two explanation statements and no conclusion statements. This suggests that the students were not engaged in higher-order thinking which could be a result of their cognitive abilities at Year 3 level as well as their use of questioning throughout the unit. Students were not always engaged with the applying, analysing and evaluating aspects of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Two students noted learning in relation to the information search process itself:  “I learnt that not always the first websight isn’t the best one!” (sic)-Remy. This could be due to the fact that the ISP was not a focus of the learning and/or students were not aware that they could respond to this question in this way. Some students noted neither topic facts or ISP related facts and instead commented on literacy outcomes such as “I learnt what a glossary was and a index and a bibliography (sic)” -Caspar and “ I learnt how to wright a infomation repot (sic)”-Alana.

 

Question 8 (Q3 only) How do you feel about your research now?

 

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Overall, the 15 students who completed Q3 were pleased with their research and this compares with Kuhlthau, Heinstrom & Todd’s (2008) research on the Information Search Process, where they discovered that the more students had learned about the topic” the more confident , relieved, satisfied, and optimistic they felt.” The students who indicated confusion also indicated issues with Information Seeking and Information Analysis. Results of the mid-point questionnaire, if they had taken it, may have indicated areas of intervention for these particular students.

 

References

Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, P. W., Cruikshank, K. A., Mayer, R. E., Pintrich, P. R., & Wittrock, M. C. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives, abridged edition. White Plains, NY: Longman

Kuhlthau, C.C. (2010). Information Search Process. Retrieved from https://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm

Kuhlthau, C., Heinstrom, J, & Todd, R. J. (2008). The “Information search process’ revisited: is the model still useful? IR Information Research 13(4). Retrieved from http://InformationR.net/ir/13-4/paper355.html

Todd, R.J., Kuhlthau, C.C., & Heinstrom, J.E. (2005). School library impact measure (S*L*I*M): A toolkit and handbook for tracking and assessing student learning outcomes of guided inquiry through the school library. Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries, Rutgers University. Retrieved from http://cissl.rutgers.edu/images/stories/docs/slimtoolkit.pdf

Categories: Module 2 | 2 Comments

Action Taken

“Inquiry is a way of learning new skills and knowledge for understanding and creating” Carol Kuhlthau 2010

Inquiry that is facilitated and guided by an instructional team with targeted interventions at critical points in the Information Search Process (ISP) allows students to better construct meaning and develop higher order thinking skills (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p. 25). Throughout the Inquiry process the students completed targeted questionnaires that revealed students were struggling with finding and identifying useful information on the web and were experiencing feelings of confusion and frustration.

Tailored intervention is required at each stage of the inquiry process according to Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari (2007, p. 27). This intervention needs to be carefully planned in order to encourage higher order thinking. In the initiation and exploration phases of the inquiry there were identified concerns in regards to finding useful information, evaluating the appropriateness of websites, understanding the information they had gathered and transcribing that information into their own words. As a result of these findings I planned to initiate targeted interventions in the following ways:

 

  • Identifying appropriate websites:

gif source: http://giphy.com

At each stage of the process students identified issues with the trustworthiness of websites and difficulty in finding appropriate websites for them to use as an information source

“I find it difficult to get informashion on internet because it dos’ent allways tell the turth (sic)” Gemma, Q1

“I found it difficult to go to apropriet websits and appropriate facts (sic)” Stella, Q2

It was my intention to teach a session on the use of child friendly search engines such as InstagrokKidCyber and Kids.net along with a demonstration of the use of Britannica Kids and potentially some of the lessons suggested by the cyber(smart:) initiative. This was planned as a launching pad for discovering key themes, ideas and words that they would then be able to use in more adult and scholarly websites. Once they had developed a set of key words and ideas they could then use these in conjunction with Boolean searching techniques.

 

  • Boolean searching:

gif source: http://giphy.com

When observing the students I could see that they were typing long and convoluted search queries in to search engines such as Google and Bing. Now I know we are all guilty of doing this, and I’m still convinced that one day this will work for me and I’ll get the answer to my strange questions in the first search! However, this is not an effective way for students to be using search engines and it’s never too early to introduce efficient searching methods and Boolean operators (in my opinion).

Using some of the resources from Education World I planned to teach a session on shortening web searches by effectively using Boolean operators. The following YouTube clip was intended as a “tuning in” resource.

  • Note taking:

gif source: http://giphy.com

In questionnaires 1 and 3 students identified difficulties with transcribing the information they had found into their own words.

What did you find most difficult to do?

“put the information in my own words” Stirling, Q1

“to write the facts on my plan in different words” Archer, Q3

Once the students had found an appropriate website or information source, they identified difficulty in translating that information into a report format. Here I intended to use a modified version of the Paraphrasing Informational Texts lessons from readwritethink.org in order to guide and scaffold the students’ learning.

 

Disclaimer:

Unfortunately I was unable to teach these sessions. However, the classroom teacher modeled finding and identifying appropriate websites as well as transcribing the information the students found into their own words. Students also had opportunities to have 1-1 conferences with the classroom teacher where they were able to discuss any issues or research roadblocks they may have been facing.

 

References

Australian Government. (n.d.). Finding and identifying appropriate online content. Retrieved from http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/Schools/Teacher%20resources/~/media/Cybersmart/Schools/Documents/Lesson_Plan_Middle_Primary_Appropriate_Online_Content.pdf

Heese, V. (2001). Use Boolean Search Terms to Shorten Web Searches. Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_tsl/archives/01-1/lesson0012.shtml

Kletzien, S. B. (2014). I Used My Own Words! Paraphrasing Informational Texts. Retrieved from http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/used-words-paraphrasing-informational-1177.html?tab=4

Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Guided inquiry : school libraries in the 21st century. School Libraries Worldwide 16 (1) pp.1-12.

Kuhlthau, C.C. (2010). Information Search Process. Retrieved from https://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm

Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L.K., & Caspari, A.K. (2007). Chapter 2: The Theory and Research Basis for Guided Inquiry. In, Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century (pp. 13-28).Westport: Libraries Unlimited.

Categories: Module 2 | 1 Comment

Methodology

gif source: http://giphy.com

The ILA forms the basis of the junior school program of Inquiry. The “Big Idea” for Year 3 is Cultures, Citizenship and Communities. Under this banner the students are exploring celebrations in order to gain an understanding of the diverse ways in which events of the past are celebrated and commemorated. In order to do this students were required to choose an Australian celebration or commemoration to research and then present their findings to the class in a format of their choice. Directed by the teacher the students progressed through their unit of Inquiry following Kath Murdoch’s (2010) Phases of Inquiry. Due to circumstances beyond my control I was unable to be present at a majority of the ILA sessions. I was however, present for the first Inquiry session when the students received Questionnaire 1 and I was also able to administer Questionnaire 2.

 

The Participants

 

The students participating in the ILA consisted of 25 mixed ability Year 3s. The students attend an independent school in metropolitan Melbourne and have access to a junior library, computers and a set of classroom iPads. All 25 students participated in the ILA but unfortunately not all of them were able to complete the questionnaires due to time constraints, illness, holidays, timetable changes and an extensive co-curricular program.

 

Data Collection

 

Data regarding the students’ progress and feelings during the unit were collected using a revised version of The Student Learning through Inquiry Measure (SLIM) questionnaire (Todd, Kuhlthau and Heinstrom, 2005). This questionnaire required students to reflect on their current knowledge of their chosen celebration, their interest in the topic, and their understanding of their own research skills.  This also allowed the teacher to gauge their attitude towards learning and feelings about the information search process. The survey consists of a combination of open-ended questions and Likert- scaled responses. Of the 25 students in the class, 23 completed Questionnaire 1 (Q1), 6 completed Questionnaire 2 (Q2) and 15 completed Questionnaire 3 (Q3). The reduced number of responses in the mid-point questionnaire and the final questionnaire were due to time constraints, co-curricular activities and student illness/holidays nearing the end of term.

 

This mixed methods design of research is highly valuable as the combination of “both forms of data provides a better understanding of a research problem than either quantitative or qualitative data alone” (Creswell, 2014, p.21-22).

 

The students received Q1 at the beginning of Term 3 after an introductory discussion on the Inquiry unit but before commencement of their ILA.

 

Questionnaire 1. Image source: Author's own

Questionnaire 1. Image source: Author’s own

 

 

Q2 was completed by only 6 students at the halfway point of Term 3, 5 weeks after commencing the Inquiry. At this stage the students had had 10 Inquiry unit sessions with the classroom teacher.

 

Questionnaire 2. Image source: Author's own

Questionnaire 2. Image source: Author’s own

 

 

Q3 was completed by 15 students on the last day of term after having had 20, 40 minute Inquiry sessions.

 

Questionnaire 3. Image source: Author's own

Questionnaire 3. Image source: Author’s own

 

The data was coded according to the SLIM toolkit. The analysis of those results can be found here.

 

The students also participated in student-teacher conferences with the classroom teacher, which provided anecdotal data and information. Students were able to discuss their progress with the teacher with reference to note-taking, research methods, technical language they would provide in their glossaries, self and peer editing as well as articulating a learning intention for next term’s Inquiry unit.

 

References

Murdoch, K. (2010). Phases of Inquiry. Retrieved from http://kathmurdoch.com.au/fileadmin/_migrated/content_uploads/phasesofinquiry.pdf

Todd, R.J., Kuhlthau, C.C., & Heinstrom, J.E. (2005). School library impact measure (S*L*I*M): A toolkit and handbook for tracking and assessing student learning outcomes of guided inquiry through the school library. Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries, Rutgers University. Retrieved from http://cissl.rutgers.edu/images/stories/docs/slimtoolkit.pdf

Creswell, J. W. (2014). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Categories: Module 2 | 2 Comments

Description of Information Learning Activity

The Information Learning Activity (ILA) discussed in Modules 2 and 3 was conducted in a Year 3 classroom in an independent Melbourne metropolitan school. 25 students worked on this ILA over a 10 week period in Term 3 and will continue to further explore the topic area in Term 4. The students had 2, 40 minute sessions in which to explore and work through the unit per week. The students had access to information texts in the classroom provided by the library technician and a set of classroom iPads.

The ILA forms the basis of the junior school program of Inquiry. The “Big Idea” for Year 3 is Cultures, Citizenship and Communities. Under this banner the students are exploring celebrations in order to gain an understanding of the diverse ways in which events of the past are celebrated and commemorated.

 

 

Key questions from the planning documents:

 

What is a celebration/commemoration?

What/how do people celebrate and commemorate?

Why/how do we remember the past?

Why is it important to respect other peoples’ beliefs, traditions and symbols?

The school has identified links to the following Australian Curriculum Learning Areas:

 

English 

 

Image created by author using PicCollage and screen shots from Australian Curriculum website

Image created by author using PicCollage and screen shots from Australian Curriculum website

 

History

 

Image created by author using PicCollage and screen shots from Australian Curriculum website

Image created by author using PicCollage and screen shots from Australian Curriculum website

 

Directed by the classroom teacher, the students followed the Kath Murdoch (2010) Phases of Inquiry  in order to research an Australian celebration or commemoration of their choice and then demonstrate their learning through the creation of an information report. This report could be presented in a variety of formats including a book, an iMovie, a poster or a model etc.

 

Examples of student work:

 

 

 

 

Click on the image to begin Prezi presentation

Click on the image to begin Prezi presentation

 

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (n.d.). F-10 Curriculum. Australian Curriculum. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/mtz4syk

Murdoch, K. (2010). Phases of Inquiry. Retrieved from http://kathmurdoch.com.au/fileadmin/_migrated/content_uploads/phasesofinquiry.pdf

Categories: Module 2 | 3 Comments

Analysis and Recommendations

Disclaimer: as I was unable to personally witness many of the Inquiry sessions, my analysis and recommendations are based on the information received via the questionnaires students completed, as well as two after school hours discussions with the classroom teacher.

 

Inquiry in Action

 

Over the course of Term 3 I had the opportunity to participate in Action Research with a Year 3 cohort. During this time the students were engaged in an Inquiry unit (ILA) based on the “Big Idea” of Cultures, Citizenship and Communities. Under this banner the students were tasked with the challenge of discovering information on an Australian celebration or commemoration of their choice.

 

Action Research the Process of Finding Out

 

Throughout the Inquiry the classroom teacher guided the students through Kath Murdoch’s (2010) Phases of Inquiry which provided a structured approach in which the classroom teacher modeled the skills and processes the students required to conduct their Inquiry. The students were “tuned in” to the topic through a brainstorming session based on their prior knowledge of Australian celebrations and commemorations and then continued through the finding out, sorting out, making conclusions, going further and reflecting/taking action phases of the Inquiry. This approach was hugely beneficial to the students who require structure. However, both myself and the classroom teacher noted that although this approach can be conducted in a cyclical and free flowing manner, high achieving students were held back by the focus on a step by step methodology.

Guided Inquiry, Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari (2012)

Guided Inquiry, Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari (2012)

In conducting the SLIM questionnaires it was clear that the students required interventions throughout their Inquiry. Guided Inquiry is a process that is planned, targeted and provides supervised intervention (Kuhlthau, 2010) and would have been highly valuable to this cohort of students. The supervised intervention would be extremely valuable when used in conjunction with the SLIM toolkit and with the support and guidance of an experienced teacher librarian. Without guidance students tend to approach the process of Inquiry with a simple copying and pasting mentality that leads to very little authenic and deep learning (Kuhlthau, 2010, p. 4). As the school currently does not have a teacher librarian on staff, the classroom teacher found the sourcing of resources problematic. Kuhlthau (2010, p. 3) notes that school librarians are integral in enabling students to learn through varied resources and a variety of communication modes. She also believes that the classroom teacher and teacher librarian need to collaborate and implement the Guided Inquiry process as a flexible team with interventions being initiated by all team members. As the school in question will have a teacher librarian in 2015 it is suggested that classroom teachers and the new teacher librarian establish a collaborative working relationship in order to provide students with interventions at key stages in their inquiries.

The Information Search Process, Kuhltahu (2013)

The Information Search Process, Kuhltahu (2013)

The Information Search Process (ISP) underlies the Guided Inquiry approach and seeks to describe the thoughts, actions and feelings of the students (Kuhlthau, 2010, p. 4) as they progress through the Inquiry process. The SLIM toolkit was extremely valuable in assessing the students thoughts, actions and feelings at key stages in the Celebrations and Commemorations Inquiry. It was through these questionnaires that I identified the need for information literacy (IL) interventions (see Action Taken post). Although information literacy was touched upon during the ILA by the classroom teacher, it was by no means a focus of the unit of Inquiry. It is suggested that this particular unit of Inquiry would benefit from a Guided Inquiry approach with the use of the SLIM toolkit to asses interventions at key stages.

 

Questioning Frameworks 

 

Student work sample

Student work sample

The questioning framework for this unit was based on Barell’s (2007) KWLAQ (see image below, see also Q1).The students constructed their own learning pathways through the use of a “data chart” in which they transcribed their research and chose the direction of their personal Inquiry. This often led to students questioning on a very basic and surface level often reaching only the understanding level of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy (Anderson et al., 2001). Rothstein & Santana (2011) note that having the ability to form and ask their own questions allows students to take ownership of the their learning, deepen their comprehension and arrive at conclusions and connections on their own merits. However, questioning needs to be deliberately taught to students in order for them to engage deeply with inquiry and maintain that skill as a lifelong learner (Rothstein& Santana, 2011).

KWHLAQ Questioning Framework. Image adapted from Barell (2007) using PicCollage

KWHLAQ Questioning Framework. Image adapted from Barell (2007) using PicCollage

 

 

 

 

Fact finding vs deeper understandings

Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari (2007) suggest that it is the expectations and instructions of teachers and librarians that have a significant impact in nurturing meaningful and deep understandings in their students through the inquiry process.

Rothstein & Santana (2011) suggest a questioning framework to guide students in posing and then answering meaningful questions. The students conducting this ILA would have greatly benefited from step three in the process where students improve their questions by comparing the differences between open and closed ended questions. The work sample above and the work samples in the Description of Information Learning Activity show examples of closed ended questions.

Question Formulation Technique, (c) The Right Question Institute. Image source: Harvard Education Letter

Question Formulation Technique, (c) The Right Question Institute. Image source: Harvard Education Lette

 

 

 

Information Seeking/Information Literacy Process

 

As mentioned previously, the focus of this Inquiry was literacy and history outcomes rather than on information seeking or information literacy outcomes. When comparing the Inquiry unit to the American Association of School Librarians Standards for the 21st Century Learner (2007), the outcomes do not meet many of the criteria. Whilst this unit was not designed to include a focus on information seeking and information literacy, this was an element that was discovered (through the questionnaires) to require targeted interventions.

Standard 1 American Association of School Librarians Standards for the 21st Century Learner (AASL 2007)

Standard 1 American Association of School Librarians Standards for the 21st Century Learner (AASL 2007)

 

GeSTThe Inquiry unit can also be examined through the theory of the GeST windows (Lupton & Bruce, 2010). This inquiry sits mostly in the Generic window, as the information they produced is external to the students and they do not affect the information in any way. The assessment of the ILA however, sits in the Situated window as the students participated in authentic peer and self-assessment through formative practice. The students were involved in generating an assessment rubric and had ownership of the assessment outcomes. This unit of Inquiry would be further transformed by making information literacy a focus of the Inquiry and situating the information literacy components in the Situated and Transformative windows wherever possible. This is again linked to improved questioning and a focus on the information literacy process. This can occur in the classroom as well as part of the library curriculum.

The history curriculum lends itself to a strong inquiry learning focus as it involves asking important questions and making connections with the past. It is important for students to undertake historical inquiry, Foster & Padgett in Lupton (2012, p. 14) suggests that it helps students to understand the human condition and helps them to begin to develop a sense of self underpinned by their own values and beliefs. The analysis of primary and secondary sources is prominent in the Australian Curriculum historical inquiry (Lupton, 2012, p. 14), a Guided Inquiry approach combined with a strong information literacy component would greatly enhance this particular ILA. The skills obtained by the students through an improved Inquiry approach would enhance their ability to ask better questions, to go beyond remembering and understanding and develop application, analysis, evaluative and creative skills (Anderson et al., 2001). It is hoped that a Guided Inquiry approach with a focus on meaningful questioning will ensure students become information literate with a view to transcending the Generic window of the GeST model (Lupton & Bruce,  2010) and achieving outcomes in the Transformative window.

 

References

American Association of School Librarians. (2007). Standards for the 21st Century Learner. Chicago: American Library Association.

Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, P. W., Cruikshank, K. A., Mayer, R. E., Pintrich, P. R., & Wittrock, M. C. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives, abridged edition. White Plains, NY: Longman

Barell, J. (2007). Problem based learning: An inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Kuhlthau, C. (2010).Guided inquiry: school libraries in the 21st century. School Libraries Worldwide 16 (1) pp.1-12.

Kuhlthau, C.C. (2010). Information Search Process. Retrieved from https://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm

Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L.K., & Caspari, A.K. (2007). Chapter 2: The Theory and Research Basis for Guided Inquiry. In, Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century (pp. 13-28).Westport: Libraries Unlimited.

Lupton, M. (2012). Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum. Access 26 (2) pp.12-18.

Lupton, M. & Bruce, C. (2010). Chapter 1: Windows on Information Literacy Worlds: Generic, Situated and Transformative Perspectives. In A. Lloyd & S. Talja, Practising information literacy: bringing theories of learning, practice and information literacy together (pp.3 – 27). Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies.

Murdoch, K. (2010). Phases of Inquiry. Retrieved from http://kathmurdoch.com.au/fileadmin/_migrated/content_uploads/phasesofinquiry.pdf

Rothstein, D. & Santana, L. (2011). Harvard Education Letter. Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions. Retrieved from http://hepg.org/hel-home/issues/27_5/helarticle/teaching-students-to-ask-their-own-questions_507#home

Todd, R.J., Kuhlthau, C.C., & Heinstrom, J.E. (2005). School library impact measure (S*L*I*M): A toolkit and handbook for tracking and assessing student learning outcomes of guided inquiry through the school library. Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries, Rutgers University. Retrieved from http://cissl.rutgers.edu/images/stories/docs/slimtoolkit.pdf

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Peer Feedback

Peer feedback is a valuable source of collaborative learning and as part of this Module I provided feedback for three fellow students. This task was as enlightening as it was valuable.


 

Blog #1

Hi Vanessa,

First of all I’d like to comment on the clean and professional look of your blog. I found it easy to navigate; it is aesthetically pleasing and overall well-grounded. I especially enjoyed reading your well written and succinct Annotated Bibliography. You have moved me to read more of the articles you have mentioned here, I was especially interested in the articles that relate to adults conducting the Inquiry Search Process, and it’s interesting to note that adults will experience the process very similarly to younger students. As an adult learner and perpetual Uni student myself, I found these articles highly relevant to my own situation. I liked that there was a definitive link between your Annotated Bibliography and your essay and that the focus was on how librarians can support inquiry based pedagogies. Thank you also, for providing links to the readings, very helpful.

Great job Vanessa a really well thought out blog.

Marion


 

Blog #2

Wow Alison, I really love this blog not only is it highly informative but it’s SO visually appealing! I really appreciate the gifs that highlight your thinking process and feelings along the way. Your Screencast very well done and I actually used your search string to find some articles for myself, work smarter not harder hey?!

You have explained the pros and cons of each database succinctly and it’s clear to the reader which database they should use for which search and why. I really appreciated your use of tables to compile your results as this made them easier to navigate. Your blog is an excellent resource and you should be very proud of the work you’ve done.

Marion


Blog #3

Hi Maha, I really enjoyed reading your first steps into the re-search process. Linking your experience with that of your students is an important connection, the better we understand the search process ourselves the better we can guide student learning

Your use of imagery really helped to get a sense of your thinking and your approach. In terms of layout I would only suggest that perhaps you space paragraphs out a little more for ease of reading and perhaps center all your images?

This is a really crisp and clean blog Maha, well done.

Marion

 

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Final Post

In comparing my research process to Carol Kuhthau’s 1994 Information Search Process (ISP), I found many similarities. I was particularly struck by the emotions I was feeling throughout the journey, which incidentally has given me the opportunity understand what my students are perhaps going through when they are conducting research themselves.

In selecting my topic I certainly experienced feelings of anxiety and anticipation as I embarked on the process of discovering what makes inquiry learning tick and how can I apply it to a social studies unit. As I explored various information sources I came up with many questions that led me along many different paths. I was happy to note that many of my questions were either answered directly or I was at least able to discover other search avenues that may help to answer them. You can see the results in my Annotated Bibliography and Essay . This enabled me to formulate a focus which gave me a confidence that I did not have in the beginning of my search process.

Collecting and analysing the information was somewhat arduous and I came across a fair amount of information that turned out to be useless or irrelevant to my particular focus. However, I slowly began to enhance my searching skills that enabled me to collect relevant resources that were able to support enhance my understanding and practical application of inquiry learning in the classroom.

As I prepare to present my experience of the ISP I’m feeling relieved but also somewhat nervous as to its reception, is it good enough? Is it relevant? If someone stumbles across this blog whilst surfing the net, will it be helpful?

I think this image sums up my experience pretty succinctly…

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Essay

Inquiry Learning in the Social Studies Classroom and Beyond

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Image source: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/earsweat/social-studies-sxsw-2013-tour

 

Inquiry learning is “…the core responsibility of all teacher librarians” (Green 2012, p. 19) and as a teacher librarian it is my responsibility to ensure that the inquiry learning that occurs in my library is meaningful and based on a sound knowledge base, supported by research. My re-search process began with a focus on inquiry learning as it applies to the primary school setting and expanded to include an emphasis on inquiry learning as it applies to the social studies classroom. Meaningful and targeted inquiry learning is new to me and so I have been trying to find out as much as possible including tracking down practical applications for the classroom. Seeking out empirical evidence to support my views and understandings on inquiry learning was extremely important as I aim to have a solid foundation of what inquiry learning entails with research to support my intentions.

 

Through my research I have discovered many approaches to inquiry learning including Guided Inquiry (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, & Caspari, 2007), personal inquiry and the collaborative inquiry approach (Green 2012). The examples in my Annotated Bibliography  point to some of these guided, personal and collaborative approaches. One aspect each of the articles discusses about inquiry learning is that it is a powerful and supportive model for achieving higher order thinking amongst students.  In their 2011 study, Sinnema, Sewell & Milligan (p.256) noted that an inquiry approach in one particular social studies classroom, created a community of learners who were highly engaged in sharing, learning and participating in open dialogue, and this led to shifts in their conceptual understandings of cultural identity and cultural transmission.

 

Whilst the value of the inquiry approach is not disputed there are however, some issues in ensuring it is implemented in a meaningful way. The inquiry approach is highly student-centred and collaborative in nature and this can represent a challenge for some students (Stephens 2010, p. 32). Differentiation is required in order to design and implement a valuable inquiry unit in a primary school setting. Another issue that can affect the effectiveness of an inquiry is timetabling conflicts (Stephens 2010, p. 30). This particular issue is one that I have had some experience with as a beginning teacher; I can’t even count the times my units of work have been interrupted by the busy schedule of a primary school.

 

Throughout the research process I also sought out practical applications of inquiry as well as strategies I could use in my Information Learning Activity (ILA) (insert link) and in the future. Augmented reality and its uses in the classroom (including the social studies classroom) was an exciting discovery for me. Paterson (2012, p. 26) states that student learning can be enhanced through a well-designed augmented reality based participatory simulation. Students are given the opportunity to master important skills such as evaluating, critiquing and interpreting information. Augmented reality is also highly motivating and engaging for students (Paterson, 2012), something I have seen for myself in a grade six classroom.

 

Another discovery I made through the research process was Hall’s 2011 paper discussing students’ use of popular culture texts to inform their understanding of academic texts. It seems only natural that as a librarian I should ensure that any curriculum includes the use and critical analysis of popular culture texts. Hall (2011, p. 303) suggests that opening up your classroom to popular culture texts expands the variety of texts at the students’ disposal. Surveys of the students’ reading, writing and multimodal engagements of popular culture texts will help the educator to identify what type of texts students are engaging with and what forms they have an expertise in (Hall, 2011, p. 303). Developing central questions and then engaging the students with popular culture and academic texts that help explore the central question is a good way to help students use popular culture texts in a meaningful way (Hall, 2011, p. 303). Here the emphasis is placed on a critical evaluation and a production of meaning in relation to curriculum outcomes.

 

The research I have conducted into inquiry learning so far, (I really feel that I’m only just beginning) has led me to discover multiple models that need careful consideration before I apply them to my teaching. The goal for me is to be able to present my students with a well thought out inquiry curriculum based on empirical research. There is plenty for me to still learn, skills to acquire and knowledge to gain but through this research process I have come to value the inquiry learning approach as a valuable, flexible, collaborative and highly effective approach to teaching and learning. I am looking forward to applying this knowledge to my ILA and future teaching.

 

References

Green, G. (2012). Inquiry and learning: What can IB show us about inquiry?  Access, 26(2), 19-21. Retrieved from http://search.informit.com.au.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/fullText;dn=193381;res=AEIPT

Hall, L. (2011). How popular culture texts inform and shape students’ discussions of social studies texts. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 55(4), 296-305.

Kuhlthau, C. C, Maniotes, L. K, & Caspari, A. K.  (2007). Chapter 2: The Theory and Research Basis for Guided Inquiry. In Kuhlthau, C. C, Maniotes, L. K, & Caspari, A. K. Guided inquiry: learning in the 21st century (pp.13 – 28). Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

Paterson, C. (2012). Learning History with augmented reality. Teaching History, 46(3), 23-29. Retrieved from http://search.informit.com.au.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/fullText;res=AEIPT;dn=195828

Sinnema, C., Sewell, A. & Milligan, A. (2011). Evidence-informed collaborative inquiry for improving teaching and learning. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), 247-261. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1359866X.2011.597050#.UiCJgX9YXFA

Stephens, L. M. (2010). Problem-based learning in an elementary social studies class. (Order No. 1475442, Caldwell College). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 47. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/305269988?accountid=13380

 

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Annotated Bibliography

Books on a bookshelf

Image source: Rob Whitworth/Alamy


Inquiry Learning in the Social Studies Classroom and Beyond.


Chaloner, M. (2011, December 7). Teaching Inquiry Learning [Video file]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/lwCmCJ8OhWY

Summary: The poster of this clip provides no explanation other than the title, however this is a very cleverly animated stop-motion video explaining inquiry learning and how it links to the social studies/humanities curriculum in an Australian context.

Reflection: While this clip may seem somewhat simple, I chose to include it as it gave me a starting off point with which to explore inquiry learning in relation to social studies. The stop motion effect was extremely engaging and helped me to conceptualise inquiry learning and its links to social studies. The creator of the clip has included references to well-known theorists in the study of education, specifically those whose theories tie in with constructivism. The clip was uploaded in 2011, which also enhances its relevancy.


 

Murdoch, K. (2010). Murdoch Model for Inquiry 2010 [pdf]. Retrieved from http://kathmurdoch.com.au/fileadmin/_migrated/content_uploads/murdochmodelforinquiry2010.pdf

Summary: This document provides educators with a model for use in planning an integrated inquiry. The model is intended to support thinking and conversation within an inquiry unit. It suggests a framework upon which an inquiry unit can be based, with the stipulation that it is not intended as a sequential step by step process but rather a cyclical one that can be tailored to each individual inquiry.

Reflection: This resource was selected as Kath Murdoch can be considered an expert in the field of inquiry learning. She is an experienced teacher, author, university lecturer and consultant. She is regarded as an authority in the field of inquiry based learning and integrative curriculum. This particular resource was chosen as the model was written in 2010 and provides as useful framework on which my ILA can be based.


 

Sinnema, C., Sewell, A. & Milligan, A. (2011). Evidence-informed collaborative inquiry for improving teaching and learning. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), 247-261. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1359866X.2011.597050#.UiCJgX9YXFA

Summary: This journal article is based on a year-long study conducted in New Zealand with data gathered from 26 primary and secondary teachers who were involved in a professional learning intervention endorsed by the New Zealand Ministry of education. The focus of the research was to discover both outcomes linked evidence as well as collaboration in the support of improvement of practice. The study specifically involved an investigation of the classroom practice of social studies teachers.

Reflection: The selection of this resource was based on a number of selection criteria. The resource was published only three years ago in a reputable and peer reviewed journal, its relates directly to my ILA which is encouraging considering how difficult articles related to social studies and inquiry have been to find, and the researchers conclude that evidenced-informed collaborative inquiry is a powerful approach. This research has helped me to gain an understanding of the need for evidence-informed instruction in my classroom as opposed to a slap-dash and uniformed inquiry process.


 

Paterson, C. (2012). Learning History with augmented reality. Teaching History, 46(3), 23-29. Retrieved from http://search.informit.com.au.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/fullText;res=AEIPT;dn=195828

Summary: This article discusses augmented reality and its appeal and application in a history classroom. Cameron (2012, p. 23) explains augmented reality as the concept of spatially blending a digital layer of information onto the physical environment and its significant advantage of being able to facilitate the development of important skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and communicating collaboratively. It is the author’s conclusion that as history is something students should do rather than something they consume, the practical applications for this particular tool in the classroom are vast.

Reflection: While this article places augmented reality in the history curriculum the author clearly states that it can be applied to any subject area and I can easily see how the transfer to social studies would benefit students. I chose this particular article as I had recently been to the DLTV Conference and attended a session on implementing augmented reality in the primary classroom. I’m particularly interested in implementing this tool as part of inquiry learning and this particular article on the subject was extremely informative as well as being both recent and published in a reputable education related journal.

As a side note, here are some augmented reality resources I have used in a primary classroom setting:

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Image source: Apple iTunes App Store

 

 

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Image source: Apple iTunes App Store

 

 


 

21st Century HSIE (n.d.). [Web log]. Retrieved from http://21stcenturyhsie.weebly.com/inquiry-pedagogy.html

Summary: This is a dedicated HSIE (Human Society and Its Environment) Blog written by a NSW primary teacher. The Blog is centered around the teaching and learning of HSIE with an inquiry learning approach. The site is a source of practical resources that can be used in the classroom as well as a comprehensive exploration into inquiry learning and how it can work in the HSIE classroom.

Reflection: I chose to include this particular resource as I found the information on the site extremely helpful and well supported by recognised research. In my research of inquiry learning I am always on the look-out for practical resources that I can adapt to my own classroom practice. The sample lesson plan was especially helpful in linking a HSIE topic to an inquiry curriculum and it contained clickable links to helpful resources, notes on assessment and specific teaching strategies.


 

Green, G. (2012). Inquiry and learning: What can IB show us about inquiry?  Access, 26(2), 19-21. Retrieved from http://search.informit.com.au.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/fullText;dn=193381;res=AEIPT

Summary: This article discusses inquiry as it is enacted in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program (MYP). The author suggests that inquiry learning can tend to become a little formulaic in its implementation and that guided inquiry needs to offer students more flexible and authentic opportunities to investigate. The author also suggests that the IB approach to inquiry has a lot to offer the teacher librarian as a more flexible and richly based approach compared with guided inquiry.

Reflection: I have included this article from the June 2012 edition of Access as I have recently been exposed to the IB Primary Years Program (PYP) as a relief teacher and I wanted to deepen my knowledge on the subject. Opening myself up to various forms of inquiry learning methods will only seek to strengthen and enhance my practice as a teacher librarian and I found this article very informative. I was especially pleased to note that the author is based in an Australian context and therefore the information is particularly relevant to me as an Australian teacher librarian.


 

Hall, Leigh A (2011). How popular culture texts inform and shape students¿ discussions of social studies texts., Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 55 (4) pp.296-305. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=9fcc8d71-b21c-490c-87ae-d421b3788caf%40sessionmgr4003&vid=0&hid=4106

Summary: This study looks at the role of popular culture texts in the lives of adolescents and how they use them to inform their content knowledge of social studies. The author suggests that the ways in which they draw on popular culture texts to inform their academic understandings both support them and limit them. It is therefore the role of educators to ensure that students have the tools to critically evaluate them in order to determine their value as an academic resource.

Reflection: The selection of this resource was motivated by several criteria. Firstly it is directly related to my ILA in that it focuses on social studies, it is relatively current (published in 2012) and appears in a peer reviewed journal which focuses on literacy. As multiliteracies are an important component of inquiry learning and of the information literacy curriculum this article is highly relevant. This article also corroborates my long held belief that popular culture texts can be successfully integrated into the curriculum and can enhance student engagement.


 

Stephens, L. M. (2010). Problem-based learning in an elementary social studies class. (Order No. 1475442, Caldwell College). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 47. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/305269988?accountid=13380

Summary: This dissertation study evaluates the effectiveness of problem-based learning (PBL) in a grade 3 social studies class. It looks at PBL as a model of teaching that can be applied to social studies and engage students in an authentic learning experience. The study concluded that PBL motivated the students to take ownership of their own learning and apply their knowledge in a final assessment.

Reflection: This resource was selected as it directly related to my ILA and was written in 2010. Finding articles on inquiry learning as it relates to social studies are harder to find than inquiry learning models based on a primary/elementary science curriculum where it is used extensively. It was encouraging to note that the study concluded that PBL was an effective strategy for the teaching and learning of social studies. The resource was peer reviewed and hence its validity and reliability can be assured.


 

Further resources regarding inquiry learning and the social studies curriculum can be found at:

http://www.scoop.it/t/blogging-by-marion-george

N.B. This scoopit topic is about inquiry learning, not blogging as the URL suggests.

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