Information Anlysis – what does this mean?

Critical analysis and evaluation occur concurrently when researching. It is vital to be critically literate in this time of information overload offered to us via the world wide web. Being able to apply this essential literacy competency empowers learners to not only interpret the text and make meaning, but  to become confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners who are capable of reaching their God given potential. The expert search strategies employed a variety of approaches in order to source relevant information that has been cited in my annotated bibliography. These expert search strategies share common terminology and related terms as they were associated to my inquiry. One vital learning disposition is the use of critical information skills. In order to evaluate the diverse nature of sources located I decided to utilise the CARS Checklist (Credibility, Accuracy Reasonableness and Support) to ensure information quality.

The CARS Checklist has been a very useful tool for me to use and the availability of posters in PDF form will be even more useful for point of intervention use in the classroom. However as my ILA is focusing on middle primary I will also consider Kathy Schrock’s checklist – The 5 W’s of Web Site Evaluation.

Information Analysis identifies where articles, books, abstracts and readings were obtained from and how I was able to critically analyse and evaluate the information within them.






Stephenson(Google) Author links to current twitter account Quote on website 2007 with blog last updated in February 2012 Passionate about Inquiry Learning and links with Galileo Network and 8 Inquiry Principles No sources listed
FitzGerald(Google and Google Scholar) Sponsored by SLAQ and IASL and even more credible due to being Head TL at Loreto Sydney Information published in 2011 and copy written by authors Purpose for article is to report on impact of Guided Inquiry and the how the SLIM toolkit was used Sources are highly relevant leaders of GI (CISSL, Kuhlthau and Todd)
Colburn(Google Scholar) No information about the author 2000 and a professor 13 years ago Practical and truthful narrative of difficulties behind GI 5 other professional links are available but dated 1964-1996
Wolf(Google Scholar via QUT via Informit) Author is a respected by Australasian Science Education Research Association Published in 2008 and is copy written in 2007 Seems to read reasonably well but is verbose and discusses gender and equity Over 40 references made well researched
Green(A+ Education) Clear author biography and whole abstract are listed Published in 2012 and discusses current inquiry trends in IB Author has a bias toward the IB program and the Middle Years Program model of inquiry 4 current sources from 2005-2008
McLean(A+ Education) Professional links with SCAN as a TL gives credibility Published in SCAN in 2011 Author supports Kuhlthau’s ISP model giving this added reasonableness 29 sources listed with many
Purnell & Harrison
(A= Education)
Published by Geographic Education giving authority to inquiry in this area of the Curriculum Published in 2011 in its complete entirety and has been copy written Purpose is to lift critical inquiry in Geography and Science using a backward map design CQ University Australia with 21 sources and current experts are listed
Sheerman(A+ Education) Professional links with SCAN as a Head of Information Services  gives credibility Published in SCAN in 2011 available as a complete article on this data base Author supports action research cycle and the use of ISP and SLIM in this article giving a truthful explanation of the action research 18 sources are listed with reference to FitzGerald, Hay & Todd, Todd and Kuhlthau
Hunsburger(ProQuest) University of Toronto with full abstract and doctorate Published in 2008 and is a complete document of 256 pages Truthful recount of teaching experience but unreasonable to consider due to the size Many sources are listed as to be expected in a doctorate
Kuhlthau & Maniotes(ProQuest) Professional links with School Library Monthly make this resource credible as does their names Complete article published in 2010 Truthful explanation of GI process and the role of the ISP make outstanding connections for educational purposes 3 references cited are all Kuhlthau connected
Pellegrino(ProQuest) Abstract only Published in 2008 Review of Kuhlthau’s book No sources are made
Rusche & Jason(ProQuest) Associated with American Sociologists has clear contact details and full abstract Published in 2011 Is a truthful recount of inquiry process and importance of questioning Appendix of 47 sources but none are known but sources can be located when checked

Are you an A+ Educator?


“What we find changes who we become.”
Peter Morville

Past searches such as Google were known data bases where I was able to successfully, easily and quickly find a vast array of information. In a way, you were immersed in a wide variety of information and needed to sift through and explore, which was overwhelming for me personally. Using the A+ Education data base was something new. I found myself exploring different search terms and found the thesaurus feature useful in helping me refine the relevant search terms.The use of the thesauri tab in A+ Education enabled me to think of synonyms for science. This led to recognition of some more curriculum based terminology for my expert searches.

As Kuhlthau reminds me “research matters.” This mind map is reminiscent of the deeper thinking about Guided Inquiry. I have been trying to identify and decide which direction to take when reading, sifting and sorting articles found when conducting these expert searches. Some other related terms that could have been considered are problem-based learning, research-based practice and synonyms such as curious minds.

Figure 1: The Mind Mess Map

Figure 1: The Mind Mess Map

Kuhlthau writes about the Guided Inquiry Process and uses the image below to help explain the phases. I find myself in the explore stage ready to move into the identify stage of the Guided Inquiry Process. The need to redefine and question my searches and reasoning in order to “go deep” and as Kuhlthau states “choose the most useful sources to read closely as they find connections and gain personal understanding” (2012, p. 4) has been achieved through using A+ Education.

Figure 2: The Guided Inquiry Process

Figure 2: The Guided Inquiry Process

The Expert Search

As can be seen in the table below the use of previously used search strings and Boolean operators was in some cases unsuccessful. In reflection it is important to know and understand the nuancesof each database. This is an important learning moment as this added additional frustration to me during this time of exploring and is one reason as to why I spent so much time in this one phase.

Figure 3: Expert Search using A+ Education Database

Figure 3: Expert Search using A+ Education Database

The following four articles will be used in the Annotated Bibliography due to the connections they made with the inquiry process and curriculum subject areas. Articles that have references to known Guided Inquiry researchers such as Dr Ross Todd held greater value than others, hence their inclusion. The Five W’s of web site evaluation and aspects of the CARS model were being used concurrently when scanning and sorting the information during this phase. Dr Ross Todd gave credibility due to his reputation. The date of publication was also important as it demonstrated up to date and current information. Due to this database being used by a tertiary institution, it made me feel that there was a higher level of accuracy, I felt supported by QUT, making me think these sources were more objective than those found via Google.

Green, Gary. Inquiry and learning : what can IB show us about inquiry? [online]. Access; v.26 n.2 p.19-21; June 2012. Availability: <;dn=193381;res=AEIPT&gt; ISSN: 1030-0155. [cited 28 Aug 13].

McLean, Ian. Taking the plunge : guided inquiry, persuasion and the research river at Penrith Public School. [online]. Scan; v.30 n.4 p.26-35; November 2011. Availability: <;dn=189318;res=AEIPT&gt; ISSN: 0726-4127. [cited 28 Aug 13].

Purnell, Ken and Harrison, Allan. Inquiry in geography and science : can it work? [online]. Geographical Education; v.24 p.34-40; 2011. Availability: <;dn=191137;res=AEIPT&gt; ISSN: 0085-0969. [cited 28 Aug 13].

Sheerman, Alinda. Accepting the challenge : evidence based practice at Broughton Anglican College. [online]. Scan; v.30 n.2 p.24-33; May 2011. Availability: <;dn=189075;res=AEIPT&gt; ISSN: 0726-4127. [cited 28 Aug 13].


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

Play on ProQuest like a pro!


If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

Albert Einstein


ProQuest was another new data base that this unit has given me cause to access and learn more about. Einstein’s quote above so rightfully articulated my feelings about all of this searching. The more I have learned about Boolean operators, subject searching and using the advanced options the more I have been able to find relevant materials that I can incorporate into my annotated bibliography. This data base seemed different to the others I had used and I found my searches to become increasingly well refined and more relevant. I registered myself with a research account and have found this to be invaluable as it can save search strings, articles and then turn all of this into a detailed citation list.

The search strings seen in my YouTube clip included Boolean operators such as AND, OR and NOT, the utilisation of my personal account, accessing articles via other sources, parenthesis and truncation. Below are the screen shots of initial searches on ProQuest. In figure one you cans see the initial search string was also used in past expert searches. However in figure two the search was improved and better refined due to the use of a subject search.

ProQuest Search 1

Figure 1 – ProQuest Search 1

ProQuest Search 2

Figure 2 – ProQuest Search 2

The search stings used in this analysis were from basic and advanced searches and the whole analysis can be located in this Pro Quest Search String document. Or seen in the table below.

Figure 1: ProQuest Search Strings

Figure 1: ProQuest Search Strings

Search String



(primary OR elementary) science (“inquiry learning” OR “guided inquiry”) 4808Tags: Guided inquiry, primary and science all strong This search was a good start but the articles were mainly American dissertations and theses with the Kuhlthau text in first location. This use of subject term first might need to be put at the end to signify the difference in strength. I had learnt from previous searches that the use of quotation marks would keep phrases together and parenthesis keep the like terms grouped also.
(primary OR elementary) science (“inquiry learning” OR “inquiry based learning OR “guided inquiry”) 3609Tags: elementary, inquiry and science all strong This search enabled me to put the emphasis upon inquiry but was still too broad in the area of sciences where sociology was still being referred to. The American links were still predominant. I need to think carefully on where the science string is located.
(guided inquiry) AND (information search process OR inquiry learning) AND (science* OR primary science) 784Tags: learning, guided inquiry, science, inquiry process, primary, information This search was too big as I had not used quotation marks and had 171892Hits. This unfortunately accounts for the huge number of hits. The use of truncation again enabled the sciences area to be increased where sciences would be included.

Doing the same search with the red changes refined the search to 784 articles where there was a marked increase in credibility, timeliness and scholarly materials.

su(primary OR elementary) science su(“inquiry learning” OR “inquiry based learning OR “guided inquiry”) 4Tags: learning, guided inquiry, science, primary This subject search really refined the process and has enabled me to find 2 more very relevant sources based on their tags. However, after more searching the Chen article is not accessible. The Inquiry Learning article is 254 pages long and due to time will not be something I pursue.  Another is about bilingual students – not my subject. This was perhaps too specific and subject specific in hindsight.
(“guided inquiry” OR “information search process”) AND (science OR primary science) 3587Tags: guided inquiry, science, primary, ISP This was a good broad search with many tags to the search terms in connected phrasing due to the use of quotation marks and parenthesis. The links to the ISP are very strong in this search and the top 15 all list this as a part of the article. All are scholarly in type and available as PDF files. 
(Guided Inquiry) OR (inquiry learning OR information search process) AND sciences NOT (physics OR chemistry) 9Tags:

guided inquiry, science, learning,

This search string was formulated via the advanced search options and was a useful search as many articles were already saved to my research list on ProQuest.

Feeling ever so much more the researcher I know I still have a lot to learn but the reality is learning is a life time journey and one I am proud to say I will persevere with as I am a persistent and patient person. I feel like I played on ProQuest like a pro and will continue to refine my searching skills my whole life through – especially as technology moves ahead in leaps and bounds.

The Information Learning Activity

“The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done – men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.”Jean Piaget

Image taken by M. Nye

Image taken by Michelle Nye – Classroom Wonder Wall 2013

The Information Learning Activity (ILA) that I have been a part of is set in an independent school with Year 3 and 4 students. These two classes work side by side and have been taking part in a peer inquiry program initiated by the class teachers. I have been able to support them 2-3 times a week with their independent learning on this topic over the term. As a Teacher-Librarian I am able to provide the teachers and students with new ways of finding information and developing critical thinking skills when researching. This ILA will run for 4-5 weeks where the following lessons will be led by me;

  1. Introduction to search engines designed for middle primary 
  2. Web site evaluation and the introduction of Kathy Schrock’s The 5 W’s of Web Site Evaluation
  3. Demonstration of Quintura for Kids
  4. Resource location lesson – use of the OPAC and where to find non-fiction materials in the collection
  5. I.S.R. lesson where information, source and records are kept (adapted from I.S.P. graphic organiser) for all sources used in the research lessons
  6. Regular ongoing inquiry support 1-2 periods a week working as a collaborative team with the two other teachers

Unit:  Living and Non-Living Materials

This unit links into the new ACARA Science curriculum. Science is everywhere in today’s world. It is part of our daily lives, from cooking and gardening, to recycling and comprehending the daily weather report, to reading a map and using a computer. Advances in technology and science are transforming our world at an incredible pace, and our children’s future will surely be filled with leaps in technology we can only imagine. Being “science literate” will no longer be just an advantage but an absolute necessity. We can’t escape from the significance of science in our world.

What are the big ideas:

  • Natural and processed materials have a range of physical properties; these properties can influence their use.

Key understanding material questions:

  • Describe and compare the properties of materials.
  • Understand that there are natural materials and man made materials- and that natural ones can be changed.
  • Understand the differences and similarities of living and non-living materials.
  • Identify an appropriate use for a material based on its properties.
  • Select materials for various uses showing an awareness of consequences for humans and the environment.
  • Explain why the properties of a material make it suitable for a particular use.

Inquiry questions:

  • What is a material?
  • What the different properties of materials?
  • How do the properties of a material make it suitable for a particular use?
  • What is biodegradability?

ACARA links:

Year 3 – Living things can be grouped on the basis of observable features and can be distinguished from non-living things (ACSSU044)

Year 4 – Natural and processed materials have a range of physical properties; these properties can influence their use (ACSSU074)

Are you as scholarly as Google Scholar?

Google Scholar is a new search engine for me and gives free access to more scholarly literature across many publishing formats and disciplines. Even more impressive is the ability to link into other library collections such as the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) which was as easy as going into the settings and adding this to my list. To get started and try this new search strategy I did as many of my students do – watched a YouTube clip! Are you as scholarly as Google Scholar?

Firstly as a starting point I thought about the relevant search terms and related terms or synonyms. Below is a table of vocabulary that I used to conduct my expert searches on Google Scholar.

Figure 1. Relevant Terms

Figure 1. Relevant Terms

Search 1

Search String Used: “inquiry learning” AND “Inquiry Based Learning” AND “Middle School” AND “Science”

This being my first search brought 1,160 articles in only 0.08sec and after scanning the first few articles I realised that this was still not quite as relevant a search and that I would need to refine this next time. Perhaps using better Boolean operators would see this change dramatically? Another interesting thing to consider when using Google Scholar is that of access to the document. One article that was of interest was that of Coleburn (2000) as it was cited 203 times which I thought was high. The subjects listed and recent citations made me want to find this even more. Fortunately this article was accessible through QUT as a PDF.

Google Scholar Search 1

Figure 2. Google Scholar Search 1

Search 2

Search Strings Used:

  1. (inquiry learning AND Information Seach Process) AND (primary AND elementary) AND Science
  2. (inquiry learning AND Information Search Process) AND (primary AND elementary) AND Science
  3. (inquiry learning AND Inquiry Based Learning) AND (primary AND elementary) AND Science
  4. (“inquiry learning” AND “Inquiry Based Learning”) AND (“primary” AND “elementary”) AND Science
  5. (“inquiry learning” AND “Inquiry Based Learning”) AND (“primary” AND “elementary”) AND Science

Again before I did my second search I did some more research about the use of more complicated Boolean Operators and search terms such as parenthesis. The use of YouTube clips was employed to better my skills. As you can see by my initial use of parenthesis and a spelling error I was well on my way to discovering how to use this new tool more competently. Search 1 gave me 17,800 hits while search 2 with correct spelling brought 123,00 with the search terms scattered throughout the articles. This sent me back to researching Boolean operators where I remembered that using talking marks kept the word string together. Searching with parenthesis, talking marks and AND to link the related terms finally narrowed my search to 1,100 results but after a great deal of reading found only one article about attitudes towards learning in Science by Wolf (2008) which I have not included in my annotated bibliography as it was accessible only to subscription members. This makes me aware of accessibility and not being able to rely on Google Scholar for all sources of information. I took this bibliographic information and tried searching for the article on QUT but was unsuccessful.

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Figure 3: Google Scholar Search 2

Figure 3: Google Scholar Search 2

Search 3

Search String Used: (“Guided Inquiry” AND “Information Search Process AND primary NEAR Science

In my previous search I was perplexed by the list of articles dating from 1985 to 2001 and saw that there was not a great deal of citation or even links to the QUT library. This indicated a lack in currency and therefore made me question the accuracy of these articles. Considering that I had not used the related term Guided Inquiry (GI) it was clear that another search would be necessary. As GI is grounded in constructivist principles and connects with the Information Search Process (I.S.P.) this was to be the next synonym used. The decision to use the Boolean operator NEAR was based on the fact that my ISP is a primary science unit and having these relevant terms close by would be ideal. In this search I found an interesting article by FitzGerald (2011) that explains a Guided Inquiry unit conducted by Ross Todd and interestingly enough was cited by Bernadine Power a past QUT TL student.

Figure 4: Google Scholar Search 3

Figure 4: Google Scholar Search 3

These are the articles of interest that will form part of my annotated bibliography:

Colburn, A (2000). “An inquiry primer”. Science scope (Washington, D.C.) , 23 (6), p. 42.

FitzGerald, L. (2011). The twin purposes of Guided Inquiry: guiding student inquiry and evidence based practice.


Wolf, Stephen J. (05/2008). “Learning Environment, Attitudes and Achievement among Middle-school Science Students Using Inquiry-based Laboratory Activities“. Research in science education (Australasian Science Education Research Association) , 38 (3), p. 321.

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Which search engine will I use?

During a recent Information Learning Nexus discussion there was reference made to numerous search engines. This was such an exciting moment where my normal list of six search engines that I refer to was stretched to a new level. After a simple Google search I discovered that there was a plethora of more age appropriate search engines available to use in middle to upper primary classes.

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Some of the discusses search engines included were:

I really liked the Word Sift search engine and found that it had some good visual word or theme brain storming abilities as seen in the image below.


Below is a link to some of my well used search engines for middle and upper primary aged students. In order to evaluate these search engines reference has been made to Kathy Schrock’s  The 5 Ws of Web Site Evaluation. After undergoing my own Google search of other ways to evaluate web sites I found an article written by Lewandowski (2012) entitled A Framework for Evaluating Retrieval Effectiveness of Search Engines  and considered results, presentation and offered a frame work for evaluating effective information retrieval. He suggest the categories seen in the table below:


Search Engine Evaluation


Lewandowski, D. (2012),  A Framework for Evaluating Retrieval Effectiveness of Search Engines 

Kathy Schrock’s  The 5 Ws of Web Site Evaluation

What do you know about Google?

“Google’ is not a synonym for ‘research’.”
Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol

What do you know about Google? I acknowledge that the verb “to Google” is not a synonym for research but it does often help me to answer questions in life quickly. I use it daily and Google searching is a verb commonly used by students who go to this website to locate information. Can Google make yous smarter?

Learning has changed. There is a new push in education to “focus on the thinking skills and habits of mind that lead to greater understanding. This is the defining quality of an inquiry-based learning environment.” (Harada & Yoshina, 2004)  In the past we relied on the knowledge of teachers and searched for information in encyclopedias as seen in this YouTube clip below..

Today we have access to unlimited data but we know how to find what we are needing efficiently? Google searching requires you to think critically about the hits that you receive.
As you can see below my initial search on Inquiry Learning brought up 62,200,000 hits in 0.19 seconds. But how many of these will be relevant? We usually just go to the first 10 or so.

Google IL

As you can see my second quick Google search on Guided Inquiry was smaller but deciding on what information is relevant and important can be time consuming. This is where the role of critical literacy becomes a vital learning moment. Harada & Yoshina (2004) refer to the need to refine research questions, retrieving information, seeking more resources and importantly determining how useful these things are and how accurate the information is. The second search saw me locate all Australian associations (ASLA, SLAV etc) in comparison the first search was wider.

Goolge GI

So why do we get these lists and how are these hits listed? Google interestingly uses a page rank system which was named after an American called Larry Page who is a computer scientist and internet entrepreneur. This picture illustrates this mathematical principal as the size of each face is proportional to the total faces pointing to it.

Harada & Yoshina (2004) posit that these information literacy skills are among the basic skills required for student success. The connectivism approach is fundamental in this interconnected multi-modal online world and becoming an information seeking expert has never been more important. Boolean operators are an empowering tool that will improve efficiency when doing any further information searches.

As you can see in the images below using these Boolean operators broaden or narrow the search. There are many symbols you can use to further refine your search. This important table has enabled me to better understand the difference between some operations.Boolean

When I used OR the search was selecting both forms of word usage across the world wide web accounting for the broadness of the search. In this search the discovery of Neil Stephenson’s Introduction to Inquiry Based Learning was timely as he makes reference to the ways digital technology has changed the way we use and share information and that deep constructivism is now achievable. Stephenson made reference to the Galileo Inquiry rubric, built around 8 elements of strong, inquiry-based practice.

Alternatively when using AND this search was narrowing as two items were to be included in this search.



Advanced Google searches give even more ways to have the information tailor-made to your needs such as key words, phrases, reading age and even location. This is a great way to refine the searching process for all learners. Using these tools and strategies alone will ensure that you are well on your way to becoming an expert searcher but are these articles scholarly and useful?


Harada, Violet and Yoshina, Joan. (2004). Chapter 1 : Identifying the inquiry-based school in Harada, Violet and Yoshina, Joan, Inquiry learning through librarian-teacher partnerships, Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Publishing, pp.1-10.

My Inquiry Learning Questions

“We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.” Lloyd Alexander

What is inquiry learning?

This investigation started with research from Carol Kuhlthau where she explains this process as going “beyond merely fact finding to personal understanding” (2010, p. 4). I have likened this to the getting of wisdom and wonder if this inquiry learning process is a professional model of practice that can be taught to teachers and students alike? I read Mark Treadwell‘s book, The Conceptual Age and the Revolution School 2.0 and enjoyed the chapter about inquiry learning but have not put this into practice yet. Treadwell states that “the development of inquiry is now seen as a core capability in developing a lifelong learning capability within the move to the emerging education paradigm” (2008, p. 75) and having no real experience in this area I am excited by this opportunity to learn more.

What does expert inquiry learning look like?

If inquiry is a way of learning then what does best practice look like? Kuhlthau explains that Guided Inquiry “is a research approach to learning” (2010, p.2) but that it is guided by a team to gain a deeper understanding. “Inquiry provides the opportunity to create a third space and Guided Inquiry enables students to make their own connections within the inquiry process” (ibid,. p 5-6). The idea of new knowledge being developed in the third space is exciting – does this mean the student’s background knowledge and the teacher’s mandated curriculum can be met in the middle? A perfect answer to the crowded curriculum conundrum.

How do we recognise the critical moment when we are to intervene?

The important part of this will be to ask the deep and rich questions and keep asking and stretching our researchers too – all at the right time. What will this time look like? How will I know when to do this stretch? The social construction that learning will come through isn’t limited to just us in classrooms anymore. It is important to teach wider thinking, questioning and make links to our State Libraries and even the Public Records Office. How can we guide and not give away the information? Is there a best search model to follow? I am interested in the Information Search Process (ISP) that the inquiry process described by Kuhlthau (2010) as this seems to offer deep learning and thinking but are there others to investigate? It will be interesting to reflect on this over the semester and decide if Kuhlthau, who stated, “an inquiry approach is a most efficient way to learn” (2010, p. 6) is indeed correct.


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

Treadwell, M. (2008). The Conceptual Age and the Revolution Schoolv2.0. Australia: Hawker Brownlow Education.

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