Final Reflection

“Learning is experience. Everything else is just information.”

Albert Einstein

The end of a journey…

I began this journey into understanding inquiry learning at a time when I was also just beginning a career as an educator. I had very little prior knowledge on this topic and my lack of experience left me sceptical as to the relevance of inquiry learning for primary school students.  I was under the impression that inquiry learning was limited to a narrow definition of a student-centred research which expected students to direct a transformative inquiry in order to participate in social change. This limited definition left me pondering how we could reasonably request students at a primary school age to engage in such a complex task, and it is this narrow approach which guided the three questions I had posed in my initial reflection. My learning journey has provided me with a greater knowledge and understanding of the broad range of inquiry learning perspectives, and I feel that I am now able to respond to my own initial concerns.

  • How can an inquiry learning unit be implemented for younger students?
  • Are there different levels or frameworks of inquiry learning for different ages and abilities?

As I have already remarked, my journey has led me to understand and appreciate the breadth and depth of inquiry learning and as such I feel that the answer to these questions is one and the same. My experience in supporting an ILA with a group of Year 4 students, and my subsequent involvement in other groups engaged in inquiry learning has developed an understanding of how best to scaffold and direct inquiry learning based on the individual needs, skills and experience of the students. Whilst an inquiry learning unit may be designed differently for a Year 3 class as opposed to a Year 12 class, the essential skills and models of inquiry can be equally applied to both groups.

  • Is inquiry learning in conflict with, or does it enhance the learning objectives of the national curriculum?

This question was posed at a time when both inquiry learning and the Australian Curriculum (ACARA, 2013) were new experiences for me. I have since been involved in both designing a unit of work based on the recommendations of the curriculum and in a number of inquiry learning activities. I understand that applying an inquiry learning activity does not fit all strands and learning objectives of the curriculum, and students learning should not always be solely based on inquiry. What I have begun to understand is how critical the professional experience of the educator is in designing any learning experiences, which will always been done in consideration of both the skills, needs and interests of the students and the learning objectives.

So the answer to this can be very simple yet still complex. Inquiry learning does enhance the learning objectives of the Australian Curriculum where it is suitable and there are times when inquiry learning does not enhance the learning objectives of the curriculum. Essentially this is a point in which the educator, in collaboration with their peers will determine the best method for achieving the learning goal. My journey has led me to appreciate that a well-designed inquiry learning activity supported in collaboration with the Teacher Librarian can enhance a learning experience and guide the students to engage in critical and higher order thinking.

The journey continues…

My travels in the Learning Nexus unit have offered me opportunities to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of inquiry learning. From the beginning I was initially sceptical of applying these activities to primary school students, and now I am a fervent advocator of this process. I have discovered the breadth and complexity of inquiry learning and how this can be scaffolded and designed based on the student needs. I have been introduced to a framework of ideas to support inquiry learning, and have had the opportunity to assess a number of models. I believe that in combining aspects of both Kulthau’s ISP (2004, p.82) and Brunner’s Inquiry Process Model (2012), and introducing these across the school, I will assist students in developing their skills in these processes. Inquiry learning guides students to actively engage in the development of knowledge through the enhancement of critical and higher order thinking, and promotes collaborative and independent skills in research, analysis and application of information.

This final post does not complete my journey of discovery into inquiry learning. In fact it is really only the beginning. As I take the knowledge I have gained, I will continue to develop and practice my professional understanding of the ways in which inquiry learning can enhance the educational experience for students. Inquiry learning activities provide an opportunity to promote the values of life-long learning within the school community and develop the essential skills our 21st century students require for successful participation in a rapidly changing technological future.

I am looking forward to the future with confidence to support students in their paths of discovery whilst continuing my own learning journey.

 

References

ACARA. (2013). The Australian Curriculum v5.1. Retrieved September 29th, 2013 from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/

Brunner, C.  (2012). The Inquiry Process. [model] From How to: Inquiry. Morino Institute Education Development Centre: Alexandria, VA. Retrieved August 28th, 2013 from http://www.youthlearn.org/learning/planning/lesson-planning/how-inquiry/how-inquiry

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2004). Seeking Meaning: A Process Approach to Library and Information Services. 2nd Ed. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

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Recommendations for the future

“Study the past, if you would divine the future.”

Confucius

Recommendations for future ILAs…

The ILA researched in this blog has provided me with an authentic experience in which to reflect upon the knowledge I have developed through my own learning journey. This research has reinforced many of the perspectives and characteristics of inquiry learning that I have discovered and afforded me the ability to reflect on my own recommendations for future inquiry learning activities.

The ILA was the first inquiry learning activity I was engaged with. In the future I would recommend a number of changes to an inquiry process based on this experience. The key areas of change I would introduce include:

Broadening the questioning framework…

The questioning framework of the ILA was teacher-centred and deprived students the opportunity to reflect on their developing knowledge and generate their own lines of inquiry. I witnessed student’s motivation levels drop when they attempted to research their own interests as they were forced to limit their investigation to regurgitating prescribed factual responses. The students in this ILA are identified as displaying low literacy levels and providing them with an initial framework in which to begin their inquiry is essential to directing their research and developing their confidence. In the future though, I would include scope for students to pursue their own line of questioning during their research as this is central to the learning process (McKenzie, 2005, p.15). In broadening the questioning framework this will generate higher order thinking “by engaging student(s) in stimulating encounters with information and ideas” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, & Caspari, 2007, p.14).

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Applying an inquiry learning model…

The ILA was not based on an inquiry learning model, and my analysis of this process has led me to determine that including a model and explicitly guiding students through this process, will give them a framework in which to direct their inquiry. The ILA was a linear process and by introducing an inquiry learning model, students will develop an understanding of the cyclical nature of inquiry. Brunner’s Inquiry Process Model (2012) is particularly relevant to the primary aged students I am engaged in teaching, and I would introduce this to students in order to assist them in the process.

Brunner’s Inquiry Process Model is a step-by-step model, with simplified processes, reflecting the cognitive and literacy levels of these students. I would scaffold this model based on the age and abilities of students, where my aim is to progress student’s understanding of this process as their abilities and experience develops. This model is not only appealing due to its simplified presentation, but also the way in which it illustrates the importance of the cyclical process of the inquiry approach, as well as allowing students the opportunity to “participate in the planning, development and evaluation of projects and activities” (Brunner, 2012).  By promoting this model within the school and engaging students in an authentic inquiry activity it will “offer learning experiences that blend knowledge, skills and thinking processes” (Harada & Yoshina, 2004, p.3) which generate higher order thinking.

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Guiding collaboration and self-reflection…

In the latter lessons of the ILA I gave students time to come together as a group in order to share and reflect on the experiences and knowledge gained during the session. I found this was extremely useful in guiding students to collaborate and support each other, and was also illuminating in highlighting the issues they faced. I would include this in the future as an essential part of the learning process. Kulthau’s ISP (2004, p.82) model highlights elements of the emotional and cognitive responses which inform any inquiry process.

Through comparison of the emotional and cognitive responses illustrated in the ISP to my own learning experience, I have gained an insight into the process and this has ensured that I better support the needs of the students. In the future I will use this model to frame the collaborative and self-reflective elements of the inquiry process, to guarantee students’ emotional responses are validated. “Learning is an emotional as well as a thinking and acting process” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, & Caspari , 2007, p.15) and highlighting and modelling emotional responses and self-reflection will create a supportive and safe learning environment in which students feel confident and motivated to engage in the development of knowledge.

Blooming into the future…

The recommendations I have made have the goal of increasing student’s ability to construct knowledge and engage in higher order and critical thinking. My objective is to assist student’s to ‘bloom’ and in so doing I will guide them through the critical stages of creating, evaluating, analysing, applying, understanding and remembering. Through broadening the questioning framework, applying an inquiry learning model and guiding collaboration and self-reflection I will assist students in achieving their learning outcomes and support effective and collaborative inquiry activities.

 

References

Brunner, C.  (2012). The Inquiry Process. [model] From How to: Inquiry. Morino Institute Education Development Centre: Alexandria, VA. Retrieved August 28th, 2013 from http://www.youthlearn.org/learning/planning/lesson-planning/how-inquiry/how-inquiry

Harada, V. & Yoshina, J. (2004). Chapter 1 : Identifying the inquiry-based school. In Inquiry learning through librarian-teacher partnerships. Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Publishing.

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2004). Seeking Meaning: A Process Approach to Library and Information Services. 2nd Ed. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

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.

McKenzie, Jamieson. (2005). Chapter 3 : Questions as Technology. In Learning to question to wonder to learn. Washington: FNO Press.

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Analysis

“Get the habit of analysis –
analysis will in time enable synthesis to become your habit of mind.”

Frank Lloyd Wright

Analysing the ILA…

The ILA studied in this blog is the first inquiry learning activity I have been involved in. This provided a critical experience in my own inquiry learning journey as I have been able to research the student’s progress, observe their engagement and response to the activity and view their results. By undertaking this in conjunction with my own developing knowledge I am able to analyse the processes involved in the student’s ILA and suggest recommendations for the future .

The ILA the students were engaged in was designed and delivered by their classroom teacher in order to develop an assessment for reporting on a SOSE KLA. The students were given a distinct list of information they needed to research and were unable to explore questions beyond this framework. The discrete information was superficial in nature and was only able to provide students with a limited understanding of their topic. Part of the assessment of the activity was in the way in which student’s displayed the information in PowerPoint. They were not able to decide on a different tool, or engage in assessing the suitability of this tool for their requirements. The students were not able to determine their own line of questioning or explore the topic beyond the limited framework.

GeST Windows…

The GeST windows model identifies different perspectives on literacy and demonstrates the methods in which information literacy may be incorporated into inquiry learning activities (Lupton &  Bruce, 2010, p.4). Based on these models I would identify this particular ILA as falling under the Generic category as it modeled the perspective of literacy being neutral and was founded on student’s engaging in and demonstrating functional and discrete skill sets (p.5). The skill sets the students were expected to demonstrate included online searching, source selection, notetaking and the creation of a PowerPoint presentation. The students were not engaged in an authentic or collaborative activity as they would be in a Situated perspective, nor in a critical or empowering activity as in the Transformative perspective (p.5).

The ILA and inquiry models…

The ILA was designed within a limited framework by the classroom teacher and would therefore be defined as teacher-directed. The inquiry was factually based as there were single answers locatable to students. Brunner suggests that factual inquiries can make for the best activities if “there is room for exploration” (2012), but as I have already observed, students were not able to generate their own questions or explore areas of the topic further. Callison defines inquiry learning as engaging in “higher order problem solving, critical thinking and reflection” (Callison 2006). In this particular ILA the students were not able to apply higher order thinking in order to solve problems, but were directed to follow a prescribed format for producing outcomes.

Inquiry process models are often defined by the cyclic nature of the inquiry process (Brunner, 2012; Callison & Preddy, 2006; Kuhlthau, Maniotes, & Caspari, 2007), in which the learner is continually returning to their initial inquiry and redefining their research as their knowledge develops. The limited time frame and the lack of an inquiry model in the design of the ILA resulted in the student’s engaging in a linear activity. The ILA questions were specifically defined for the students and they were guided to follow the process of research, interpretation and reporting, without the time or affordances to return to each stage. Kulthau’s ISP model (2007, p.17) reflects the importance of identifying and guiding students through the activity with a focus on their emotional responses. Students in this ILA were not asked to reflect on the process or share their emotional responses throughout the inquiry.

Overall the ILA I was engaged with did not specifically reflect any of the inquiry learning models I have explored during my own research. In particular the absence of a cycle of inquiry and reflection, as well as collaboration and the opportunity for student’s to define their own line of questioning has impacted on the ability for student’s to engage in critical and higher order thinking. Upon analysis and reflection of these issues I have developed my own recommendations as to how I will support an inquiry learning activity in the future.

References

Brunner, C.  (2012). The Inquiry Process. [model] From How to: Inquiry. Morino Institute Education Development Centre: Alexandria, VA. Retrieved August 28th, 2013 from http://www.youthlearn.org/learning/planning/lesson-planning/how-inquiry/how-inquiry

Callison, D. & Preddy, L. (2006). Chapter 1: Information Inquiry: Concepts and Elements. In Callison, D. & Preddy, L. The Blue Book on Information Age Inquiry, Instruction and Literacy, (pp.3-16). Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

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.

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

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Actions Taken

“In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.”

Dalai Lama

Actions taken…

During my learning journey I had the opportunity to research the student’s I was engaged in supporting through their ILA, and develop an understanding of the issues that concerned them. I began their ILA by providing a refresher session on the skills required for PowerPoint as this was the software they were using to produce their research findings. The results of Question 5 of Survey 1 indicated the main areas of concern for students, which included:

  • Reading books
  • Searching online
  • Asking others
  • Notetaking

As the students were expected to participate in each of these areas  I felt it was essential to provide additional guidance to assist students in achieving their goals (note Viewing Videos is not acknowledged here as students were not engaged in this activity during their ILA). Whilst I was not in the position to design the ILA, I felt it was my role as the supporting teacher to act as the “resource specialist who opens access to a variety of quality resources to support students learning” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2012, p.14). As the ILA was over a short period of five sessions, and due to the nature of student absences and other demands on their time, I was unable to design a fully developed approach to this ILA. Instead, in collaboration with their classroom teacher, I provided additional support in each of these areas to build student confidence.

I modelled and demonstrated skills in; searching online by using Boolean Operators; finding information within books by identifying the contents and index pages; and practicing skills in notetaking. I challenged students notions of individual research by ensuring that the end of each lesson time was spent collaborating as a group. I guided students in sharing the difficulties they had faced in their research, interesting information they had found and useful skills they had developed. This was done to build a collaborative and supportive environment, in which they felt confident to take risks and make mistakes, as well as assist and support each other through the process.

The results of Question 5 from Survey 2 indicated that these additional actions I took did reduce students concerns in all of these areas except reading books. These results combined with my experience in supporting students in this ILA have led me to understand the benefit in applying a strong inquiry learning model such as Brunner’s Inquiry Process Model (2012) to assist students in directing their research, and engaging and understanding student’s responses and challenges throughout the process.

It’s now time for further analysis of the knowledge I have gained on inquiry learning in order to better understand how I will direct an inquiry learning activity in the future.

References

Brunner, C.  (2012). The Inquiry Process. [model] From How to: Inquiry. Morino Institute Education Development Centre: Alexandria, VA. Retrieved August 28th, 2013 from http://www.youthlearn.org/learning/planning/lesson-planning/how-inquiry/how-inquiry

Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. (2012). Chapter 1: Guided Inquiry Design: The Process, the Learning, and the Team. In Kuhlthau, C. C. ; Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. Guided inquiry design : a framework for inquiry in your school. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

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ILA Results

“Realists do not fear the results of their study.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky

The results of my study…

On my learning journey I undertook a study of a group of students I supported in their own ILA. The students participating in the ILA were asked to respond to two surveys. These questions were based on the SLIM Toolkit with some revisions to reflect the needs of the students. A total of 20 students responded to both Survey 1 and Survey 2, and it is these results which are illustrated here.

Question 1…

Question 1 has been designed to track the growth in student’s knowledge and the development of their understanding of the topic. As Kulthau, Maniotes & Caspari note of the inquiry process that “the main objective is to go beyond fact finding to synthesize and assimilate facts to construct new ideas and deep understanding” (2007, p.22). Through tracking Question 1 the students would ideally display a growth in minimal or simple fact statements in Survey 1 to demonstrating explanation or conclusion statements in Survey 2.

Chart 1 below displays the total number of statements made by students in both Survey 1 and Survey 2.

Question 1 Total Statements

Chart 1 – Question 1 Total Statements

This chart demonstrates; significant increase in fact statements made by students; there are zero explanation statements; and some conclusion statements made in Survey 2.

Chart 2 below shows the growth individual students displayed in detailing fact statements in response to this question.

Chart 2 - Question 1 Changes in Number of Fact Statements from Survey 1 to Survey 2

Chart 2 – Question 1 Changes in Number of Fact Statements from Survey 1 to Survey 2

This chart demonstrates that 50% of students increased the number of fact statements, but that for 20% of students there was actually a decline in the number of fact statements in their Survey 2 response.

In the ILA Methodology I had identified this particular group of students as demonstrating low literacy and achievement levels, and this was evidenced in the minimal information provided in Question 1. Nine students responded to Question 1 in Survey 1 as ‘knowing nothing’, and four of these students maintained this opinion in Survey 2. Of the responses that were given in the surveys information was limited and while growth may be indicated in the charts, a qualitative look at the responses may reflect minimal growth or the construction of deeper understandings. It is interesting to note that Student 11 was highly motivated and evidenced researching and detailing information about the country that was outside the scope of the specific brief. When the student was redirected to only research the information outlined in the assessment, the student was observed to lose motivation in the activity.

Student Survey 1 Survey 2
Student 4 “France eats snails the Issle [sic] tower is there know where it is” “that they eat snails and they are famous for cheese”
Student 11 “I knew wher[sic] it was” “Not much.”
Student 15 “I knew nothing” “They go to the big giant bell evry janerwery[sic] the 1st.”
Student 18 “I know everything” “that united kingdom is made up of three conntrys[sic]”

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Question 2…

Question 2 has been designed to track any changes in student’s interest levels in their topic. We know that “learning is a process of construction that requires students’ engagement” (Kulthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p.25) and therefore it is important to understand the interest levels of students. Through tracking Question 2 the students would ideally display a growth in interest or at the very least, maintain interest levels in order for the development of knowledge to take place.

Chart 3 below displays the changes in interest levels for students in the inquiry learning activity.

Chart 3 - Question 2  Changes in Interest Levels from Survey 1 to Survey 2

Chart 3 – Question 2 Changes in Interest Levels from Survey 1 to Survey 2

This chart demonstrates; the majority of students (85%) maintained or increased their level of interest; while 15% of students displayed a decline in interest levels.

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Question 3…

Question 3 has been designed to track changes in student’s perceived growth in knowledge on their topic. Through tracking Question 3 the students would ideally display a growth in knowledge in order for the development of deeper understanding of their inquiry topic to occur. This question is not evaluating actual or assessed development of knowledge but rather how the student’s perceive their own growth, and replicates a key factor of the inquiry process on student’s reflection of their own learning throughout the process (Kulthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2012, p.12).

Chart 4 below displays the changes in student’s perceived growth in knowledge from Survey 1 to Survey 2.

Chart 4 - Question 3 Changes in Knowledge from Survey 1 to Survey 2

Chart 4 – Question 3 Changes in Knowledge from Survey 1 to Survey 2

Based on the pre-coded responses available, this chart demonstrates; 45% of students selected a higher scoring option in Survey 1 from Survey 2 and therefore indicated a growth in knowledge; 55% of students selected the same response in both surveys and therefore maintained knowledge; whilst there were no students that indicated a decline in the development of knowledge.

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Questions 4 & 5…

Questions 4 and 5 in Survey 1 have been designed to inform the researcher of the issues the students may face in conducting their inquiry process, or to highlight those areas which are of least concern to students. The inclusion of Questions 4 and 5 in the final survey are designed to inform the researcher of how the student’s confidence and understanding of these research processes may have changed over the period of the unit. These questions have been revised from the original SLIM Toolkit and pre-coded in order to assist students in responding to the survey questions.

Chart 5 below displays the changes between surveys of the aspects of research which students find easy. Ideally there should be a growth from Survey 1 to Survey 2 to indicate student’s developed awareness and confidence in these areas.

Chart 5 - Question 4 Aspects of Research that were Easy

Chart 5 – Question 4 Aspects of Research that were Easy

Based on the pre-coded responses available, this chart demonstrates; an increase in growth of student’s confidence in the areas of Reading Books, Searching Online and Notetaking; a maintenance of student confidence in Asking Others; and a reduction in confidence in Viewing Videos.

Chart 6 below displays the changes between surveys of the aspects of research which students find difficult. Ideally there should be a reduction from Survey 1 to Survey 2 to indicate student’s developed awareness and confidence in these areas.

Chart 6 - Question 5 Aspects of Research that were Difficult

Chart 6 – Question 5 Aspects of Research that were Difficult

Based on the pre-coded responses available, this chart demonstrates; a reduction in student’s difficulty in the areas of Searching Online, Asking Others and Notetaking; a maintenance of student difficulty in Reading Books; and an increase in difficulty in Viewing Videos.

Both the results from Questions 4 and 5 make for interesting analysis when considered in conjunction with Actions Taken and are further explored in greater detail in Analysis.

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Question 6…

Questions 6 only appears in Survey 2. The inclusion of Question 6 attempts to understand student’s emotional state at the completion of the inquiry learning process as this can be an indicator to the success of the activity (Sinnema, Sewell & Milligan, 2011, p.257). It is important during any inquiry that students are both aware of their emotional responses and that they are guided to accept these responses as part of the process. The development of knowledge is “an emotional as well as a thinking and acting process” (Kulthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p.15) and thus it is just as important to understand a student’s emotional state as their reflection on their development of knowledge.

Chart 7 below displays the student responses from Question 6. Students were able to select from Happy; Confident; Confused or Unhappy.

Chart 7 - Question 6 Students feelings regarding their final assessment

Chart 7 – Question 6 Students feelings regarding their final assessment

Based on the pre-coded responses available, this chart demonstrates a high level of students who indicated a positive response to their assessment. 95% of students selected either Confident or Happy while only 5% of students indicated a negative response. The number of respondents was a total of 20, and therefore there was only one student who indicated dissatisfaction with their inquiry.

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Its time for analysis…

The results of Survey 1 provided me with the opportunity to take Actions to assist the students in the inquiry activity. The results presented here provide me the opportunity for further Analysis in continuing to develop my own personal understanding of my inquiry learning journey.

 

References

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. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited

Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. (2012). Chapter 1: Guided Inquiry Design: The Process, the Learning, and the Team. In Kuhlthau, C. C. ; Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. Guided inquiry design : a framework for inquiry in your school. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

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 August 12th, 2013 from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1359866X.2011.597050#.UiCJgX9YXFA

Todd, R., Kuhlthau, C.C. & Heinstrom, J.E. (2005). School Library Impact Measure. 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 6th, 2013 from http://cissl.rutgers.edu/joomla-license/impact-studeies?start=6

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ILA Methodology

“Wisdom is not acquired save as the result of investigation.”

Sara Teasdale

An investigation…

To create a more meaningful journey on my path to understanding Inquiry Learning I conducted an investigation of a group of students undertaking their own learning activity (ILA). In order to ensure validity and rigour in the study results I based my methodology on the SLIM toolkit which is a recognised questionnaire and process aiming to “chart changes in students’ knowledge and experiences through the process” (Todd, Kulthau & Heinstrom, 2005, p.5) of inquiry learning.

An overview…

The ILA was set in a state primary school with 26 participants from a Year 4 class covering KLA’s in SOSE. The unit was a five week course consisting of five 45 minute lesson each week held in the library, although students were able to work independently on their inquiry in their own time. The unit was devised and managed by the classroom teacher and as the TL, I acted in what is considered as an essential support role as a “research specialist” (Kulthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2012, p.14) and ICT advisor. Students had individual access to laptops or computers during class time, and these tools were made available to them upon request in their own free time and during breaks.

Participants…

To ensure the SLIM Toolkit was suitable as a form of methodology for this study, I felt it was critical to employ a professional assessment of the 26 participants involved. Through previous interactions with this group I recognised that a significant number of them demonstrated low literacy and achievement levels; displayed issues with behaviour management; irregular school attendance; and half of the students involved were identified as ESL (English as a Second Language). These issues impacted on the methodology used in the study and resulted in revisions made to the SLIM Toolkit to address these considerations.

Methodology…

The study was based on the SLIM Toolkit with revisions made to the questionnaire following a reflection of the students involved in the study. The study was reduced from three to two questionnaires. This decision was made both due to the limited time frame available and as a result of the irregular attendance of some students. This proved to be essential as of the 26 students involved in the study; only 20 students were available to complete both surveys. Survey 1 was completed by students in the first week prior to any learning activities, and Survey 2 was conducted in Week 5 at the completion of the lesson. The main revisions made to the survey were in Question 4 and Question 5. These questions are open-ended in the Toolkit and require students to generate their own responses. Based on the knowledge I had of the students, particularly understanding their low literacy levels, I decided it would be beneficial to provide pre-coded responses to aid students in responding. I ensured I added an ‘Other’ option to allow for any students who had additional responses beyond what I had considered were the most likely answers.

Findings…

The survey results were collated and quantitative data was produced as a result of the findings. During the activity I made observations of individual students in order to develop a deeper understanding of their response to the process. The results from the quantitative study are displayed in detail in ILA Results and have significantly impacted on my personal learning journey and the path in which I will take on future inquiry learning activities.

References

Todd, R., Kuhlthau, C.C. & Heinstrom, J.E. (2005). School Library Impact Measure. 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 6th, 2013 from http://cissl.rutgers.edu/joomla-license/impact-studeies?start=6

Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. (2012). Chapter 1: Guided Inquiry Design: The Process, the Learning, and the Team. In Kuhlthau, C. C. ; Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. Guided inquiry design : a framework for inquiry in your school, (pp.1-15). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

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Peer Feedback

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

(Ken Blanchard )

Peer Feedback

Peer Feedback 1

Stacey’s Expert Search Strategies (http://staceyedmondsblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/let-the-expert-searching-begin/)

Stacey, I really like your Mind Map, it is very clear and well organised, and I really appreciate how you have made the extra effort to create cross connections between search terms. The tables you have created are very clear and descriptive; including both results and your response to these. This really helps the reader follow the reasoning behind the progression of your search process.

You have reminded me that it is an important element of blogging to create links within your blogs to your other relevant blogs, as this clarifies your thought process, allows the reader to explore specific ideas more fully and is one of the benefits of blogging. Thank you for including them, and reminding me to add these to my own blogs!

I know managing the design template in blogs is quite difficult, but if you are able to change the font size in your last three tables to match the first, this would create consistency within your post. This is not critical if you can’t achieve this with the tool available, it doesn’t have any impact on the readability or usability of the post. Also in the first paragraph you switch from using the ‘I’ pronoun throughout to ‘you’, and this may read more fluidly if you change this to “…into the search terms you were I was able to create…”.

I think you have successfully addressed the requirements of expert search strategies, and commend you on being able to create a post that has flair and personality, but is also succinct and clear in the information provided. Well done and really glad that I have been in your group and am able to learn from your work, as well as the late night support!  Thanks J

Peer Feedback 2

Stacey’s Annotated Bibliography & Essay (http://staceyedmondsblog.wordpress.com/reference-list/)

Stacey, I think your initial overview of how you make your choices in selecting articles is a great introduction to this post. Your review of each reference successfully meets the requirements, as you have limited yourself to the recommended 2 – 4 sentences but have still managed to provide all required information including an overview of the resource and your response to it.

A suggestion I have is that your external links in your references for your annotated bibliography open within the same page; this means that your reader actually leaves your blog to explore the link and they may have trouble getting back to you. If you want your links to open in a new tab or window, highlight the link in the editing page in the Dashboard, click on the link icon in the tools area, and in the pop-up window check the box next to “Open link in new window/tab”.  This way your reader can open your links in a new tab, but your post stays open and you don’t lose their attention.

Also when referencing a journal I follow the CiteWrite recommended format for Volume, number and pages etc e.g. “Teaching History, 46(3), 66-69.” Rather than e.g. “Vol. 30 Num. 2. p.p. 305-324.”

Love your comic at the beginning of the essay, great light relief and so relevant! Some really important points in your essay and well connected to your bibliography. Just reread the final paragraph for a couple of spelling and grammatical changes.

Thanks so much for sharing this with me, I think you have done a fantastic job in exceeding the requirements and with clarity to ensure you haven’t cluttered your blog with extraneous information. Well done!

Peer Feedback 3

Michelle’s Expert Search Strategies (http://michellenye.wordpress.com/category/expert-search-strategies/)

Michelle, I really like the layout and design of your blog overall, I found it easy to navigate through this site and your use of relevant links to other pages is an excellent use of one of the main benefits of blogging. I hadn’t thought of creating categories for each requirement, I think this is a really effective way of providing fast links for the marker and reader to find the relevant posts.

I have made a similar suggestion to Stacey in using links within the page. Your external  links open within the same page; this means that your reader leaves your blog to explore the link and they may have trouble getting back to you. If you want your links to open in a new tab or window, highlight the link in the editing page in the Dashboard, click on the link icon in the tools area, and in the pop-up window check the box next to “Open link in new window/tab”.  This way your reader can open your links in a new tab, but your post stays open and you don’t lose their readership.

Your writing style and introduction work well to present complex analyses in a succinct and clear way for the benefit of the reader. It displays a consideration of the reader, and allows for a wider readership. It’s also great to follow your thought processes which help guide the reader through each section of your post. I wish I had the same skill as you in presenting  academic ideas in an easy-to-read style and language.

Thanks for sharing a fantastic post!

Peer Feedback 4

Michelle’s Annotated Bibliography (http://michellenye.wordpress.com/annotated-bibliography/)

Michelle, your annotated bibliography successfully meets the requirements of this part of the assignment, and makes for interesting reading. The individual review of each resource provides a thorough but succinct analysis of the information and your response to each, and I appreciate the way you have outlined the credibility of the information as well as its usefulness.

I noticed your inclusion of the table from the Rusche resource, and found this a great way to illustrate and clearly present your key findings. A picture speaks a thousand words!

As Mandy has stated that the response to each resource need only be 2-4 sentences long, with this in mind I wanted to recommend editing the review of the Green article which might be considered lengthy. If you wanted to reduce the response to this, you could easily cut out the first two sentences and maintain integrity in your response. Also as an aside, the headings for each resource seem to use bold lettering inconsistently, and from a style point, this may be better if all the sections contained in these were all bold, or not bold. Very minor!

I have enjoyed the experience of reading your posts, and appreciate your interpretation of the requirements. It both validates my own response to the assignment and broadens the literature I have on this subject, as all your sources appear to be both interesting and valid.

Many thanks for sharing.

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