The Information Learning Activity (ILA) implemented during the last five weeks of Term 3 utilised the The School Library Impact Measure (SLIM) toolkit (Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinström, 2005) and “focused on the thinking skills and habits of mind that lead to greater understanding” (Harada & Yoshina, 2004, p. 1) where the characteristics of an inquiry based environment were able to be analysed using information learning theories and especially the Information Search Process (ISP).
The educational context of this ILA is considered formal where face to face interactions take place and I led 5 sessions as outlined previously. The inquiry focus was upon living and non-living materials with a group of 28 Year 3 and 4 students. The pupils completed two surveys throughout this time with 21 completing both surveys (12 girls and 9 boys). The surveys were conducted during my Discovery Learning sessions without the presence of their class teachers.
Data Gathering – the what, why, how and when
The school that this ILA is situated in is currently undertaking a whole school approach towards assessment. As ongoing assessment is one of the goals of guided inquiry the implementation of this project has been the perfect opportunity “for evidence-based practice” (Todd, 2010, p. 24) to be put into action. There were three phases of assessment and data collection as seen below. This was conducted across five weeks and the findings used to analyse and better understand meta-cognition and deep thinking in the inquiry process.
Phase 1 was conducted over a two week period where the the initial Questionnaire 1 was conducted with the whole class. During this time students were in the initial stages of their inquiry. Phase 2 incorporated the information search process, observations and student teacher conferences on a group of tracked students that took two weeks to complete. Phase 3 consisted of only one week due to timing of school holidays and affected how many surveys in total were able to be taken. Both Questionnaire 1 and 3 were used in order to seek data and further information on initial knowledge and post learning achievements.
All students had the freedom to present their findings in any way they liked and then orally presented to the class at the end of the term. This enabled the guided inquiry team to reflect upon the learning process and more importantly empowered the students to reflect upon their learning and make connections with the learning process and personal progress. Assessment was ongoing throughout the inquiry process as different skills were required at different times and as educators we had to determine the right time for point of intervention support.
The use of the SLIM Toolkit enabled me “to measure how students’ knowledge of their curriculum topics changed during the inquiry unit and track changes in interest and information seeking” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p.126). The data collected on the surveys was scored quantitatively in order to graph and analyse the findings. Using results from questions 1,2 and 3 comparisons were made between each Questionnaire. Other data was coded in a qualitative manner in order to find common themes around inquiry learning. The answers from questions 4 and 5 were open ended and after collation enabled me to target specific student needs. The results of this ILA have helped me see and appreciate the importance and value of inquiry learning.
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
Kuhlthau, Carol C. ; Maniotes, Leslie K. & Caspari, Ann K, Guided inquiry : learning in the 21st century, Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.
Todd, R., Kuhlthau, C. & Heinström, J. (2005). School Library Impact Measure S L I M – A toolkit and handbook for tracking and assessing student learning outcomes of guided inquiry through the school library. [PDF file] Retrieved from http://cissl.rutgers.edu/images/stories/docs/slimtoolkit.pdf
Todd, R. (2010). Curriculum Integration – Learning in a changing world. Camberwell. ACER Press