INFORMATION LEARNING ACTIVITY REPORT

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CONTEXT

This research project was conducted on a combined 4/5/6 class of 20 students who were participating in the Kids Design Challenge Pushcart Project. The class worked intensively on this project one day per week over a period of 23 weeks. The teacher of the class had the group one day per week as part of RFF arrangements and fills the role of both teacher-librarian and science teacher at the school. The entirety of the project involved students participating in:

  • Researching and designing a push cart
  • Building a pushcart
  • Presenting a poster display detailing design process and scientific investigation
  • Fundraising and seeking sponsorship
  • Designing a team identity
  • Racing the pushcart and participating in performance trials
  • Being interviewed by a challenge judge
  • Presenting two PowerPoint presentations

All of the requirements of the project were fulfilled in groups thus students were expected to work cooperatively throughout. There were however individual contributions made to the group tasks, for example: Each student prepared a slide for the PowerPoint presentations; all students had an aspect of pushcart design to research and so on.



                                 From models to the real thing.


METHODOLOGY

A mixed mode methodology was used to gather the experiential data for this research project. The data collection methods used were observations and written reflections, (qualitative) and questionnaires / survey (quantitative). The survey was used as recommended in the School Library Impact Measure (SLIM) toolkit, an instrument designed to measure changes in students’ levels of knowledge and information literacy skills over the course of an Information Learning Activity (ILA) (Todd, Kuhlthau and Heinstrom, 2005).

A total of 20 students took part in the inquiry unit; the breakdown of the class was yr 6 – 10 students; yr 5 – 3 students; yr 4 – 7 students. Data was collected on four occasions during the ILA. Initially I did an observation of the class whilst they were researching pushcart design and again after the cart was built and the class was working on five group tasks (pushcart decoration, scientific investigations, sponsorship letters, and pushcart identity and poster production) during the lesson. The first questionnaire (Appendix A), was completed a few weeks into the project after a holiday period and was used as part of revising what they had done and checking to see what they could remember. The final questionnaire (Appendix B), is referred to throughout this report as questionnaire 2 but it is modelled on the third questionnaire / survey from the SLIM toolkit. This was completed one week after the students had completed their final Road Safety / Adventure Course at Sydney and submitted the final PowerPoint presentation. A total of 15 students completed both questionnaires and it is the results of these that have been included in this study.

APPENDIX A

TECHNOPUSH LEARNING REFLECTION #1

NAME:

1. Take some time to think about building and racing a pushcart. Write down in point form what you already know about it.

2. How interested are you in this topic (pushcarts)? Tick the appropriate box.

1

Not interested at all

2

Slightly interested

3

Interested

4

Very interested

5

Extremely interested


3. How much do you know about this topic? Tick the appropriate box.

1

I know nothing at all

2

I know a little bit

3

I know some things

4

I know a lot

5

I know almost everything


4. When you research a topic (e.g. Pushcarts) what do you usually find easy to do?

5. When you research a topic (e.g. Pushcarts) what do you usually find hard to do?

     APPENDIX B

TECHNOPUSH LEARNING REFLECTION #2

Name:

1. Take some time to think about the Technopush project. Now write down what you know about it.

2. How interested are you in this topic? Check (ü) one box that best matches your interest.

Not at all ☐     not much
quite a bit a great deal

3. How much do you know about this topic? Check (ü) one box that best matches how much you know.

Nothing ☐     not much quite a bit a great deal

4. Thinking back on the Technopush project, what did you find easiest to do? Please mention as many things as you like.

5. Thinking back on the Technopush project, what did you find most difficult to do? Please mention as many things as you like.

6. What did you learn in doing the Technopush project?

7. Remember back to the research you had to do for Technopush, how do you now feel about your research? Check (ü) one box that best matches how you feel.

Unhappy – I don’t feel confident with how it turned out

Confused – I don’t really know what I was looking for

Confident – I think it turned out OK

Happy – I’m really happy with how it turned out

8. Had you ever travelled to Sydney before you went for Technopush?

Yes [ ] No [ ]

9. Had you ever been on an overnight school trip before Technopush?

Yes [ ] No [ ]

REFERENCES

Todd, R. J., Kuhlthau, C. C., & Heinstom, J. E. (2005 ). School Library Impact Measure

(SLIM): 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 August 11 from

http://cissl.rutgers.edu/joomla-license/impact-studies/57-impact-studies-slim

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FEEDBACK REFLECTION #1

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As an external student it is not difficult to feel somewhat detached from University life. As you sit working away on your computer at home you become cocooned in your own thoughts and experiences. Giving and receiving feedback from my peers whilst working on this subject was a valuable way to feel less disconnected. I was able to take a step back from my own work and focus on what others were doing. This allowed me to confirm that I was on the right track and the opportunity to review other group member’s blogs was a great experience in becoming more aware of shortcomings in my own writing and presentation of ideas. The informal feedback process that I engaged in with my group members , emailing each other and discussing concerns and questions, was particularly useful to become aware that I was not the only one experiencing some of the affective feelings discussed by Kuhlthau et al. in the Information Search Process (1997, p.19). During the Exploration stage we were all experiencing feelings of confusion, frustration and doubt and the realisation that my feelings were not unique made me feel less overwhelmed by them.

As previously discussed in my analysis of inquiry models, my experiences mostly paralleled The Alberta Inquiry Model (Alberta. 2004, ch.2, p.10). Reviewing the process is at the core of this model and is essential at every step. The opportunity to review other students work and receive feedback on mine particularly fits in with the ‘Information Processing and Information Sharing’ section of this model. In the Information Sharing stage students present the research product in a way that is meaningful for a particular audience. There is also opportunity for the students to consider the role of the audience members in enhancing the sharing experience (Oberg, 1999, Para. 14.).This occurred when I published my blog posts and received feedback, from there I was again able to review and consider whether changes were needed before the final findings were presented.

REFERENCES

Alberta.(2004). Alberta Learning. Learning and Teaching Resources Branch.

Focus on inquiry: a teacher’s guide to implementing inquiry-based learning.

Focus on Inquiry Chapter 2 p. 9 Alberta Learning, Alberta, Canada 2004 Retrieved September 8, 2012 from http://education.alberta.ca/media/313361/focusoninquiry.pdf

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. And Caspari, A. (2007) Guided Inquiry: learning in the 21st century     school. Westport: Greenwood. Retrieved September 8 from     http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/index.html

Oberg, D. (1999). Teaching the research process – for discovery and personal growth.

In 65th International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Council and General Conference Bangkok, Thailand, August 20 – August 28, 1999 Retrieved September 8, 2012 from
http://archive.ifla.org/IV/ifla65/papers/078-119e.htm

INQUIRY MODELS AND MY OWN INQUIRY PROCESS

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Inquiry learning has constructivist theories of education at its core. The concept of constructivism can be traced back to Socrates directing questions to his students. In the twentieth century Piaget and Dewey with their theories of childhood development paved the way for constructivism with new perspectives being added by Vygotsky, Bruner and Ausubel
(Matsuoka 2004, n.p.). The main activity in a constructivist classroom is solving problems. Students use inquiry methods to ask questions, investigate a topic, and use a variety of resources to find solutions and answers. As students explore the topic, they draw conclusions, and as exploration continues, they revisit those conclusions. Exploration of questions leads to more questions. The wide variety of Inquiry-Learning models available today hold constructivism as the underpinning philosophy.

Trevor Bond, (2010), on his website provides an overview and background on twenty-three different models of Inquiry-Learning, including his own known as SAUCE. There is an enormous amount of information available on Inquiry-Learning and most of the models have areas that overlap. However, for my own personal inquiry journey, and in particular my ISP process, the model that best fits is, The Alberta Inquiry Model (AIM), (Figure 1). This process model is theory-based and grounded in research from the fields of education and library and information studies (LIS). From education, comes learning theory and from LIS, information seeking behaviour theory (Oberg. 1999, para 5).

The similarity with Kuhlthau’s Model of the Information Search Process, (Kuhlthau et al. 1997 p, 19) is the understanding of the complexity of learning from information and the consideration of both the affective and cognitive domains. It was this dual consideration that mirrored my ISP process, as was discussed in the last blog post. The main differences between the two models however are the emphasis on reflection and the non-linear experience in the AIM.

The graphic design of the AIM has reflecting on/ reviewing the process at its core and this is an essential part of every stage of the process. The other stages all fit around this central piece, illustrated as part of a puzzle and all the puzzle pieces are equally essential to completing the overall picture. This reflects my ISP experience, it was nonlinear and recursive and the continual reflection was essential for me to facilitate deep understanding. Reviewing the Process is a critical element for helping students to understand research as a learning process and to develop their metacognitive abilities, for both ‘thinking about thinking’ and for ‘thinking about feeling’ (Alberta 2004, para. 8).

The Alberta Inquiry Model

Figure 1. The Alberta Inquiry Model (Alberta. 2004, ch.2, p.10).

The Focus on Research: A Process Approach, (Figure 2) is an instructional model of this process,  it was developed because of teacher and teacher-librarian demand and my ISP is analysed further under each of the stages. Note that for the purpose of this analysis I have added a third column to the table that lists the affective domain.

The Focus on Research: A Process Approach

STAGES

SKILLS

Planning
  • Establish Topic
  • Identify Information Sources
  • Identify Audience and Presentation Format
  • Establish Evaluation Criteria
  • Review Process
Information Retrieval
  • Locate Resources
  • Collect Resources
  • Review Process
Information Processing
  • Choose Relevant Information
  • Evaluate Information
  • Organize and Record Information
  • Make Connections and Inferences
  • Create Product
  • Revise and Edit
  • Review Process
Information Sharing
  • Present Findings
  • Demonstrate Appropriate Audience Behavior
  • Review Process
Evaluation
  • Evaluate Product
  • Evaluate Research Procedures and Skills
  • Review Process

Figure 2. Focus on Research: A Process Approach (Oberg, 1999, n.p.)

STAGES

SKILLS

AFFECTIVE

Planning
  • Establish Topic
  • Identify Information Sources
  • Identify Audience and Presentation Format
  • Establish Evaluation Criteria
  • Review Process
  • engaged
  • interested
  • curious
  • positive

In the Planning stage, students are given the opportunity to get an image of the whole research process; this was the case in CLN650 with detailed outlines for the unit, weekly overviews and links to past projects. Oberg, ( 1999, para. 11.) emphasises this getting a sense of the project as a whole supports student success. Engaging students in the planning stage is crucial. My engagement came in the form of selecting my ILA, so even though the parameters for the assignment were already laid out I was able to select content that interested me, was relevant to my experience and connected me to the world outside this subject. At this stage of the process I experienced all of the emotions listed in the affective column and the review process here involved reflective analysis in the form of questionnaire 1, and discussions on Facebook and in weekly tutorials.

STAGES

SKILLS

AFFECTIVE

Information Retrieval
  • Locate Resources
  • Collect Resources
  • Review Process
  • (information overload)—anger
  • frustration
  • fatigue
  • irritability, (leg jiggling or swearing

The information Retrieval stage is where students locate the information needed. The knowledge of information tools and systems and of search strategies are essential and again we were given the tools necessary to adequately do this in the form of demonstration, ‘how to’ videos and guidance in tutorials. My practising with these is documented in the ‘searching’, sections of my blog. Concept mapping was useful to me here to narrow down my search terms and begin to focus on what information I wanted to retrieve. Again the affective component was extremely true to my experience, (it was as if someone had been spying on me to see the frustration and swearing). This was definitely caused from”information overload” (Oberg, 1999, Para. 12.) from both researching Inquiry-Learning and coming to terms with using new technology. The review process again involved discussions and solutions on Facebook and emails back and forth to my other team members. This went hand in hand with retrospective analysis of the information I had retrieved.

STAGES

SKILLS

AFFECTIVE

Information Processing
  • Choose Relevant Information
  • Evaluate Information
  • Organize and Record Information
  • Make Connections and Inferences
  • Create Product
  • Revise and Edit
  • Review Process
  • anger
  • frustration
  • irritability
  • engaged
  • interested
  • curious
  • positive

Information Processing is really a two-phase stage that combines both the processing and creating stages from Figure 1. After selecting and recording pertinent information, the students create a research product by organizing and synthesizing their information in a unique and personal way (Oberg, 1999, Para. 13.).For me this was in the form of blog entries, particularly the essay that synthesized all the information. There were feelings of frustration at the beginning of this stage as I was still dealing with information overload and needed to further narrow my focus. Part of the review process was personal reflection on the purpose of this subject for me and discussion and feedback from my lecturer. At the end of this stage I moved back toward the feelings of positivity.

STAGES

SKILLS

AFFECTIVE

Information Sharing
  • Present Findings
  • Demonstrate Appropriate Audience Behavior
  • Review Process
  • Positive
  • Satisfaction or
  • disappointment

In the Information Sharing stage, the students present the research product in a way that is meaningful for a particular audience. There is also opportunity for the students to consider the role of the audience members in enhancing the sharing experience (Oberg, 1999, Para. 14.).This occurred with the posting of blog entries and with the valuable use of peer feedback and review. Also, part of my personal review process during this stage was to review other group members blogs which was a great experience in becoming more aware of shortcomings in my own writing and presentation of ideas. In the affective domain I felt relief that I was able to produce something coherent form the research and that the process was over for the moment!

STAGES

SKILLS

AFFECTIVE

Evaluation
  • Evaluate Product
  • Evaluate Research Procedures and Skills
  • Review Process
  • emotional literacy
  • understanding

In the Evaluation stage, the emphasis is on involving the students in the assessment of the process as well as the product of the research (Oberg, 1999, Para. 15.). The main part of my personal review process was Questionnaire 2. By this stage I was relieved to have Blog stage 1 complete and wasn’t really interested in any more reflection but the questionnaire was useful for me to examine where I had started in terms of my knowledge and how much I had progressed. I had markedly increased my emotional literacy particularly in terms of the ISP and had come to understand better my own metacognitive process.

The Alberta Inquiry Model emphasizes the affective as well as cognitive aspects of Inquiry-Learning. Information seeking is a complex process and students need to be helped to recognize as natural the waves of optimism and frustration that accompany complex learning (Kuhlthau, 1993). As a teacher-librarian I have discovered from experiencing this process myself that students need to be aware of and have coping strategies to address such phenomena as library anxiety and information overload. In my future practise I will try to help students recognise these feelings as normal parts of learning, to understand them, and to regulate them. Students who understand that their feelings are not unique but shared by others are less likely to be overwhelmed by them.

REFERENCES

Alberta.(2004). Alberta Learning. Learning and Teaching Resources Branch.

Focus on inquiry: a teacher’s guide to implementing inquiry-based learning.

Focus on Inquiry Chapter 2 p. 9 Alberta Learning, Alberta, Canada 2004 Retrieved September 8, 2012 from http://education.alberta.ca/media/313361/focusoninquiry.pdf

Bond, T (2010.) SAUCE: An Inquiry Learning Approach. Retrieved

    September 13, 2012 from http://ictnz.com/index.htm

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. And Caspari, A. (2007) Guided Inquiry: learning in the 21st century     school. Westport: Greenwood. Retrieved September 8 from     http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/index.html

Matsuoka, B.M. (Exec. Prod.)(2004). Concept to Classroom: A series of

Workshops. Constructivism as A Paradigm for teaching and Learning. Educational Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved September 13, 2012 from http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/constructivism/index.html

Oberg, D. (1999). Teaching the research process – for discovery and personal growth.

In 65th International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Council and General Conference Bangkok, Thailand, August 20 – August 28, 1999 Retrieved September 8, 2012 from
http://archive.ifla.org/IV/ifla65/papers/078-119e.htm

    

REFLECTIVE QUESTIONNAIRE 2

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  1. 1. Take some time to think about your topic. Now write down what you know about it.

inquiry learning

  • There is an Inquiry model for almost every occasion, most of them reflect Kuhlthau’s Information Search process and the most useful ones have a cognitive and affective component to them
  • Researchers agree that Inquiry Learning engages students on a deep cognitive level but is something that should be introduced (at primary level)in scaffolded levels
  • One of my favourite quotes from the research is ‘all inquiry is not created equal’, there are different levels of inquiry activities and a plethora of videos and kits that demonstrate and encourage ‘best practice’
  • Teachers need to be supported when initially introducing Inquiry into their classrooms as they too experience the ISP process and this is where teacher-librarians and their specific skills come in.

information literacy

  • An ability to access or retrieve information, whether it is online, in a book, in someone’s memory. Then to comprehend that information and to utilise it in a way that helps to answer the initial questions and even to formulate new ones

2. How interested are you in this topic? A great deal

3. How much do you know about this topic? Quite a bit

4. When you do research, what do you generally find easy to do?

  • Use Boolean operators and conduct specific searches
  • Access databases and retrieve specific information by narrowing down searches
  • Synthesize information and make it relevant to my needs, present it in a logical manner
  • Link specific ideas to the ‘bigger picture’
  • Reflect on what I have read or discovered (this is a necessary process for me when my brain is feeling too full) and keep or reject ideas and information as it suits.

5.  When you do research, what do you generally find difficult to do?

  • Decide on a focus and not be distracted by other interesting looking information
  • ‘work smarter’ see my blog post about this
  • Remember to save websites, links and other information needed for reference lists
  • To STOP and remember when enough is enough

6.  How do you feel about your research so far? Confident – I think I know where I’m heading

MY INFORMATION SEARCH PROCESS

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MY INFORMATION SEARCH PROCESS (ISP).

When I first saw Kuhlthau’s Model of the Information Search Process,  (Figure 1), it was a light bulb moment for me. I had frequently experienced the affective process but had never really given it due consideration as an important part of the learning process. This was an “a-ha” insight as I now had the vocabulary to describe what I experienced each time I embarked on new learning. I would have liked to have discovered this model a week earlier as whilst I was doing an ILA observation I watched students really grappling with feelings of frustration and the teacher experiencing increasing doubt and it would have been great to reflect on this model and discuss how normal and even expected these feelings were. Oh well, the benefits of hindsight, this will form part of my ILA recommendations for future practice.

Figure 1. Kuhlthau’s Model of Information Search Process. Kuhlthau et al. (1997 p, 19).

My search process paralleled each of the stages in Kuhlthau’s model in the following ways:-

  • INITIATION. When I first started to examine the concept of inquiry I had some vague notions about it but as questionnaire 1 reflects, there was a lot of uncertainty. I had heard and read some things and thought I could remember others but was generally unsure exactly what inquiry learning meant or looked like in a classroom. When I completed my wordle I really became aware of my lack of knowledge and some feelings of apprehension began to creep in.
  • SELECTION. As I viewed the mini lectures and participated in the weekly tutorials and started to develop an understanding what inquiry learning was about I began to feel more optimistic. Perhaps I should have looked more closely at the model as I didn’t realise that this feeling would be (very!) brief. However I was armed with enough information to start some research on my ILA.
  • EXPLORATION…this was when the trouble started! I found enormous amounts of information that was pertinent to my ILA- science in the primary curriculum, but I was becoming more confused in the process. Some of the information was conflicting and I hadn’t initially realised the wide scope of activities that fall under the banner of Inquiry. The breadth and depth of the information was overwhelming. In addition to this, I kept coming across articles about how teacher-librarians are essential collaborative partners in the inquiry process.
  • FORMULATION. So…. after much deliberation about what I wanted to achieve from this subject and approval from she who knows all (Mandy), I finally decided to make the teacher-librarian collaboration aspect the focus of my research. This gave me clarity and marked a return to feelings of optimism and confidence. This confidence was again diminished though when I started to use new technology and the exploration stage started all over again in relation to this aspect of the task requirements.

  • COLLECTION. Once I had a focus for my research that I was happy with I continued with information seeking with a definite sense of clarity. There were still some ‘crises of confidence’ along the way but nothing as marked as during the exploration stage. I became increasingly interested in the Inquiry process, particularly in the problems associated with implementing authentic inquiry into the classroom. This became another ‘mini’ focus area for me.
  • PRESENTATION. The presentation stage really occurred for me when I had completed the mini-essay. I experienced a feeling of satisfaction as I had been able to synthesize all those previously garbled thoughts into a coherent document. I had conveyed what was important to me from the literature and devised how, as a future teacher-librarian I would be able to put this learning to use.
  • ASSESSMENT. A sense of accomplishment (and relief) was experienced when all of this information was published on my blog.

OBSERVATIONS.

Although I experienced all of the stages in Kuhlthau’s model, my ISP deviated from it in that it was not a linear progression. I would continually revisit the exploration and collection stages and the associated feelings of confusion and doubt were mixed in with moments of clarity. I also needed to continually reflect on what I was feeling and where I was at in the information seeking process. It is for these reasons that my ISP, although paralleling Kuhlthau’s stages, is more accurately represented by The Alberta Inquiry Model which I will discuss further in a later blog post.

REFERENCES

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. And Caspari, A. (2007) Guided Inquiry: learning in the 21st century school. Westport: Greenwood. Retrieved September 8 from

http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/index.html

SYNTHESIZING THE INFORMATION

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INQUIRY LEARNING IN THE SCIENCE CLASSROOM AND THE ROLE OF THE TEACHER-LIBRARIAN.

“Inquiry” has been a central goal of science education for decades and is the hallmark for current science education reform efforts (Quigley ,Marshall, Deaton & Cook, 2011; Abd-el-Khalick et al. 2004; Bell, Smetana, & Binns, 2005). According to Abd-el-Khalick (2004, p. 398) “good science teaching and learning has come to be distinctly and increasingly associated with the term inquiry.” However, educators, practitioners and researchers recognise there are many challenges to authentic inquiry teaching. Effective inquiry-based learning requires a team of professionals to design implement and assess student learning (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari , 2007). One solution to help meet this challenge within a school context is collaboration, particularly between a teacher and teacher-librarian with a common vision.

Contained within current research, (Donham, 2010; Abd-el-Khalick et al., 2004; Zion et al. 2007) is much discussion and debate as to what authentic inquiry learning constitutes and how one would recognise it in a classroom. Part of the confusion stems from the broad spectrum of activities that can be interpreted as inquiry based. These can range from structured and guided inquiry (teacher directed) to open inquiry (student directed). The degree of complexity in an inquiry activity also varies, depending on the level of openness and the cognitive demands required. Rezba, Auldridge, and Rhea, (as cited in Bell et al. 2005, p.33) provide a succinct example of the different levels of inquiry that can be experienced within a science classroom in Table 1.

Figure 3. Levels of inquiry in an effervescent antacid tablet activity. Reprinted with permission from Rezba, Auldridge, and Rhea (1999).

Inquiry
level

Description and examples

1

Confirmation—Students confirm a principle through an activity in which the results are known in advance.
“In this investigation you will confirm that the rate of a chemical reaction increases as the temperature of the reacting materials increases. You will use effervescent antacid tablets to verify this principle. Using the following procedure, record the results as indicated, and answer the questions at the end of the activity.”

2

Structured inquiry—Students investigate a teacher-presented question through a prescribed procedure.
“In this investigation you will determine the relationship between temperature and the reaction rate of effervescent antacid tablets and water. You will use effervescent antacid tablets and water of varying temperatures. Using the following procedure, record the results as indicated, and answer the questions at the end of the activity.”

3

Guided inquiry—Students investigate a teacher-presented question using student designed/selected procedures.
“Design an investigation to answer the question: What effect will water temperature have on the rate at which an effervescent antacid tablet will react? Develop each component of the investigation including a hypothesis, procedures, data analysis, and conclusions. Implement your procedure only when it has been approved by your teacher.”

4

Open inquiry—Students investigate topic-related questions that are student formulated through student designed/selected procedures.
“Design an investigation to explore and research a chemistry topic related to the concepts we have been studying during the current unit on chemical reactions. Implement your procedure only when it has been approved by your teacher.”

Table 1: Levels of Inquiry (Bell et al. 2005, p.33)

Inquiry learning has also become confused with tasks that are merely ‘fact finding’. Gordon (1999) (as cited in Donham 2008, p.1) characterized this problem as “no-inquiry-learning” and stated that reporting has masqueraded as researching for so long that the terms are used interchangeably. However, Inquiry as defined by Kuhlthau et al.(2007,2) is an;

“Approach to learning whereby students find and use a variety of sources of information and ideas to increase their understanding of a problem or issue. It espouses investigation, exploration, search, quest, research, pursuit and study. It challenges students to connect their world to the curriculum.”

There are many parallels between Kuhlthau’s definition of inquiry and the description from the National Research Council 2000 (as cited in Quigley 2011, p.55) when it sets out the essential features of what the learner will do when inquiring within a scientific framework, including:

  • Engaging with a scientific question,
  • Participating in design of procedures
  • Giving priority to evidence
  • Formulating explanations
  • Connecting explanations to scientific knowledge, and,
  • Communicating and justifying explanations

It is obvious why science educators claim inquiry as essential to their curriculum, the concern amongst researchers however is that most teachers lack a practical framework of inquiry to inform their instruction ( Bell et al. 2005, 30). Research has consistently indicated that what is enacted in classrooms is mostly incommensurate with visions of inquiry put forth in reform documents, ; (Abd-el-Khalick et al., 2004, 398)and teacher understanding of inquiry, including its many pedagogical and curricular nuances, is still problematic (Quigley et al. 2011,55).

The indications here for me as a future teacher-librarian are many. The most important role for me in the inquiry learning process is to be a catalyst for change. To realise that change is a process that takes time and persistence (Olson and Loucks-Horsley, 2000, 157)and that teachers need to be supported through this process both on both an organizational and individual level. Authentic inquiry is an innovation in most classrooms and fortunately, an extensive body of knowledge is available in the form of research papers, books , video clips and kits that provide instructional guides, resources and personal vignettes about both the benefits of inquiry learning and how to introduce it in science classrooms.

REFERENCES

Abd-El-Khalick, F., BouJaoude, S., Duschl, R., Lederman, N. G., Mamlok-Naaman, R.,

Hofstein, A., Niaz, M., Treagust, D. and Tuan, H.-l. (2004), Inquiry in scence education: International perspectives. Sci. Ed., 88: 397–419. Retrieved August 12, 2012 from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/sce.10118/pdf

Bell, R., Smetana, L.,Binns, I. (2005)Simplifying Inquiry Instruction. The Science Teacher. 72 (7) Retrieved August              15, 2012 from http://www.nsta.org/publications/news/story.aspx?id=50983

Donham, J (2010) Deep Learning Through Concept- Based Inquiry. School Library Monthly 27 (1) Retrieved                 September 5, 2012 from http://www.schoollibrarymonthly.com/articles/Donham2010-v27n1p8.html

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. And Caspari, A. (2007) Guided Inquiry: learning in the 21st century school. Westport: Greenwood

Olson, S and Loucks-Horsley, S . (Ed.) (2008) Inquiry and the National Science Education

Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning; Committee on the Development of an Addendum to the National Science Education Standards on Scientific Inquiry; National Research Council. Retrieved September2, 2012 from http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~jossem/REF/59.pdf

Quigley, C. , Marshall, J.Deaton, C.Cook, M, & Padilla, M.(2011) Challenges to

Inquiry Teaching and Suggestions for How to Meet Them Science Educator; 20 (1) 55-61 Retrieved August 12, 2012 from http://www.eric.ed.gov.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=EJ940939 

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

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My literature search has resulted in me focusing on three main areas.

  • Projects specifically involving the design and building of a pushcart (my ILA project)
  • Inquiry learning in science or design technology in primary schools
  • The role of the teacher-librarian in assisting with inquiry learning projects.

My bibliography combines resources from each of these three focus areas.

Abd-El-Khalick, F., BouJaoude, S., Duschl, R., Lederman, N. G., Mamlok-Naaman, R.,

Hofstein, A., Niaz, M., Treagust, D. and Tuan, H.-l. (2004), Inquiry in science education: International perspectives. Sci. Ed., 88: 397–419.

This set of papers from an international symposium discuses issues directly relating to inquiry learning within science. It looks at issues in the light of inquiry both as means (i.e., inquiry as an instructional approach) and as ends (i.e., inquiry as a learning outcome). Although it is disscusses secondary science classrooms I thought it would be give an excellent over arching view of inquiry-learning from a variety of countries. As a teacher-librarian I was particularly interested in the section: ” Images of the enactment of inquiry in the curriculum, curricular materials, classroom instruction, and assessment practices” as I thought this would be useful for making recommendations for future practice when analysing my ILA.

Beattie, G. & Ryan, F (1994) Technology, Transport ,Energy And The Environment …

Today and Tomorrow. Into The Future:-an integrated technology, science and environmental education kit. The Victorian Country Education Project.

Despite the age of this kit I thought it contained useful information relating to the teaching of inquiry based projects. Particularly interesting was the initial framing up approach to a topic that was the same as our questionnaire for CLN650 and that which we did with our ILA:- What do you already know, What would you like to know etc. There are also well set out activities that are specific and appropriately worded for primary school level that could be a model for teachers to use and support what I will include as part of my recommendations for future practice in the analysis of my ILA.

Donham, Jean.(2011) Assignments Worth Doing. School Library Monthly, 28 (2), 5-7 3

Donham examines how school librarians need to be vigilant in challenging students on a deep cognitive level. Even though it is not specifically about science it can be easily related to inquiry learning across all curriculum areas. Of particular interest was her emphasis on moving beyond “superficial fact-gathering” tasks which has been a topic of discussion amongst the CLN650 group in relation to ILAs. She discusses a guide to deep learning through inquiry whichschool librarians can use with teachers to design assignments and assessment criteria that I thought would be

Egret584 (2010) Best Practices; 2nd Grade Inquiry Based Science. Youtube video clip

            This video documents second grade students who are adept at applying higher level thinking skills to the scientific process. It is an excellent example of inquiry learning which includes examples of question types and questioning techniques; generating hypotheses; experimentation; recording observations and reporting results. These are all processes I observed students in my ILA completing and the comparison of the different approaches is valuable. It also demonstrates using students as experts, and collaboration which came up as points for consideration after the ILA students completed their first questionnaire. So, not only does it parallel aspects of my ILA it also addresses inquiry learning in the science classroom, a very valuable resource.

Kids’ Design Challenge (2012) http://www.kdc.nsw.edu.au/index.html

This resource is the web page for the Kids’ Design Challenge which runs the Technopush Project which is the topic for my ILA. It provides all the details necessary to be involved in the project including registration, tips, expert help and showcases from previous years. A detailed teaching plan is sent out once you have registered.

McLean, Ian (2011) Taking the plunge: guided inquiry, persuasion and the research river at

Penrith Public School. Scan; 30 (4), 26-35

McLean’s motivation in writing this article was to present his findings from a guided-inquiry collaborative journey at Penrith Public School. He had initially attended professional development sessions with Ross Todd and Lee FitzGerald in 2010 and was keen to implement more fully Carol Kuhlthau’s ‘Model for the information search process’ (ISP) at his school. This related directly to everything we had been reading and discussing with regards to inquiry learning. Also the content and context was Australian primary school specific relating to the K-6 syllabus. From a teacher-librarian perspective I was very interested to see how he had used the SLIM toolkit and a weblog and generally incorporated the use of ICTs into the inquiry learning process.

Milne, Ian (2010) A Sense of Wonder, Arising from Aesthetic Experiences, Should Be

the Starting Point for Inquiry in Primary Science Science Education International, 21 (2) 102-115


Milne in this article expresses his personal belief in the need for both students and teachers to operate from a point of wonder or awe when learning /teaching about science in primary school. What was pertinent to my research however was a table provided that introduces, “Creative Exploration” an inquiry based model for teaching and learning in primary science. He describes this as a co constructive inquiry learning approach. Although this probably requires further exploration I thought the distinction he made between “doing science and learning science” was pertinent to my ILA.

Prevost, E.J. (2010) Developing a culture of inquiry in elementary schools:

The role of the teacher-librarian.

Prevost’s masters’ dissertation provides an overview of Inquiry-Learning and outlines her personal journey towards it. It examines the inquiry process in elementary (primary) schools and the benefits to all the educational stakeholders. She also outlines what is required to develop a culture of inquiry-based learning and how best to collaborate with others. It is written in a reader friendly style and is very suitable to my aim of learning how to better assist others with inquiry-learning in their classrooms as it is almost like a ‘how to’ manual. The background story of her personal journey is also very appealing as aspects of it mirror my own.

Quigley, C. , Marshall, J.Deaton, C.Cook, M, & Padilla, M.(2011) Challenges to

Inquiry Teaching and Suggestions for How to Meet Them Science Educator; 20 (1) 55-61

This peer reviewed article claims inquiry has been a goal of science education for decades. Of particular interest to me was how it described four major challenges facing teachers as they implement inquiry based teaching:-“including measuring the quality of inquiry, using discourse to improve inquiry, pursuing the goal of teaching content through inquiry methods, and learning how to effectively manage an inquiry classroom.” The authors go on to provide an analysis of these issues and provide implementation strategies.

Vassila, H., King, J., & Foster, L. (2008) How can teacher librarians support technology

learning? Scan 27 (2), 15-18

This article ticks all the boxes for my requirements; it discusses specifically how science and technology is best taught within the NSW syllabuses and describes the methodology of project work that is used. This process of teaching fits in with inquiry-based learning models and the part that particularly caught my eye in the abstract was, “teacher librarians are valuable teaching partners to enhance technology learning… especially when students are exploring, defining, analysing and organising information for the project task.” The specific skills that a teacher-librarian can bring to the classroom are described and valued.

Yax, Kerrie (2012) Kerrie Yax’s followed topic posts. Scoop.it

This Scoop.it! website site is an amazing link to a large variety of resources, articles, lesson plans, webinars and tools that will prove useful not only for this course of study but also for my teaching practice. It covers such a wide variety of topics relevant to both inquiry-learning and science including:- Flipping and Expanding Bloom’s Taxonomy; 100 Coolest Science Experiments on YouTube; Mrs. Yax’s Science Websites; Curiosity in the classroom; Visual Interactive Blooms of web 2.0 tools; Project-based learning. And the list could continue. This is probably the most valuable resource I have found that I will continue to use into the future.