In a nutshell….

One last word cloud, in a nutshell here are the themes I have been learning about this semester.
These word clouds have the potential to be a great web 2.0 tool in the classroom. I was able to find some word cloud tips for teachers here, including a number of word cloud sites such as Wordle and a site aimed at younger students called AbcYa.
I have learned many valuable insights into teaching and learning this semester, and look forward to putting them into practice in the classroom.

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Reflecting on Feedback Round 2

Giving and receiving feedback with my 2 group members has been a beneficial process allowing me to improve and reflect upon my blog.
In giving this feedback I have gained insight into other ILA’s as well as encouraging reflection of my blog. It was valuable to view the results of my group members ILA’s. Not only did this give me different perspectives on the guided inquiry process it also confirmed I was on the right track. In one of Jo’s blog posts I noticed that a hyperlink was inactive. This encouraged me to double check my own links to ensure they were working. In another instance I commented on a useful inquiry lesson resource Jacqui had used in her ILA. This made me reflect on my own unit as one of my own recommendations was to explain the ISP in greater detail at the beginning of the ILA. This prompted me to search for other primary friendly inquiry resources that could be utilised in future units of work. In my search I found an excellent set of posters that are perfect in explaining the ISP, which I have included in my recommendations post.

In receiving feedback, I received some very helpful suggestions which allowed me to refine my own blog. Firstly, Jo commented that it appeared that my students did undertake a genuine guided inquiry activity, which gave me some confidence that I was on the right track with the guided inquiry lesson itself. There are definitely many improvements that need to be made on the ILA as a whole, but it was valuable to hear positive feedback on the task.
In my presentation, I made mention that it would have been advantageous to have the TL involved in the ILA. Jo also asked which role the TL would take during this process. This made me realise I had not clarified exactly how the TL could be involved in order to benefit the ILA. In my ‘recommendations’ post I made sure I answered this question, giving further detail about exactly how the TL should be involved in the ILA and how this would have a positive impact on the research task. In hearing this feedback, it made me realise that I need to be more specific and detailed in my responses.

Next, Jacqui asked some thought provoking questions about my ILA. What will I do in future units of work to help my students and will I use a questionnaire to understand my students? In future units of work, I plan to incorporate search strategies to a higher degree, including focussed lessons to help students gain these skills. As for using questionnaires, although it is a very powerful tool to gain insight into students learning, I do not think I would use a questionnaire with every single inquiry unit. There are other more time effective methods that could be used such as informal discussion, one on one conversations and observation while the unit is progressing. However, by administering questionnaires throughout the ILA it has made me more aware of students learning styles and problems they may encounter and is something I will revisit in the future.
Jacqui also made a recommendation to design and teach a unit of work helping students to search online effectively. I feel that a unit such as this would be extremely beneficial in a TL role. A unit such as this that could be taught to many grades would enhance students research skills and provide the classroom teacher with some helpful tips to allow students to maximise their internet search time.

Overall, even though sometimes daunting, the feedback process is one which is useful both when giving and receiving feedback. Not only has this allowed me to improve my blog and my learning, but has also emphasised to me the importance of the feedback process for my students.

Questionnaire Three

Questionnaire 3

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

  • Guided inquiry lessons require planning and dedication, but when done well allow students to gain a deep knowledge and understanding of the subject area.
  • Inquiry learning is a way of learning which inspires a deep understanding in students, it creates motivation, enhances and language writing skills, creates ownership of learning, allows students to work cooperatively and refine their group work skills. There is an abundance of reasons to be an advocate for inquiry learning within schools.
  • To answer a question I previously posted in my blog, inquiry learning can be for any ages, including younger grades. There are ways that the ISP can be simplified in order for younger students to still be able to understand and participate in the process. There are many models that focus on inquiry based learning within a P-6 setting (for example ‘The Big 6‘ and ‘The 8 W’s of Information Inquiry
  •  To answer another previous question of mine, inquiry learning does not need to be an ‘all or nothing’ approach. It can be incorporated into just 1 or 2 KLA’s within the classroom. Inquiry skills can be incorporated subtly into research activities or specific models can be followed.
  • The final question I asked was how inquiry learning could be utilised within the school library setting. The TL has the power to be a valuable member of the guided inquiry team by providing a variety of resources, as well as access to the school library itself.  The TL also has the knowledge to help guide students through the guided inquiry process.

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 your research project, what did you find easiest to do? Please mention as many things as you like.

  • Because I used Jing in Blog stage 1, I found that creating the presentation was a lot easier than I had anticipated.
  • I enjoyed creating the blog itself and how it enabled some creativity within the assessment tasks.
  • Gathering the resources for the ILA, including selecting books, posters and artefacts that students would find useful and engaging.
  • Teaching students a mini lesson on search skills (even though I had limited time!). Because I had just completed Blog Stage 1, the skills I had learned from completing this were fresh in my mind.

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

  • Because I am not exactly an expert in Microsoft Excel, occasionally I had some issues with entering data and creating graphs. This was very time consuming.
  • Knowing exactly what to look for in the data analysis was challenging, however got easier the more I did it.
  • Teaching the ILA itself due to the very minimal time in which I had to teach it.
  • Ensuring that I included all the necessary topics within the ‘Recommendations’ post.

6. What did you learn in doing this research project?

  • How to critically evaluate an information learning activity.
  • I have gained some skills in using Microsoft excel.
  • Skills utilising technology and web 2.0 tools which can also be shared with students and staff alike.
  • Some valuable information relating to the Australian history curriculum- as I had not looked at it in great detail before.
  • Principles of Blooms extended taxonomy and how to relate this to an ILA.
  • That it is important to reflect  upon tasks in order to refine them and that this can also be done before completion of the task.

7.  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

ILA Evaluation and Recommendations

ILA Overview (information-learning theories and model)

The ILA allowed students to learn about Australian Colonisation following a guided inquiry approach. The goal of the unit was to allow students to formulate a deep understanding of the subject area by way of research.
This style of research has many benefits as highlighted by Kuhlthau (2007). This includes competency when researching, a motivation to learn, language development and social skills.
Students were presented with the inquiry question- ‘What was life like as a convict?’ and were instructed to formulate a more specific research focus from this question. After utilising a variety of sources such as books, the internet and various artefacts  students created a poster and oral presentation.

The ILA was not designed with a specific model in mind, but after analysing the ILA it corresponds to the principles of ‘The Big 6’ model.

Students followed a structure that included:

1. Task Definition
Students were given an overview of the task, an inquiry question and had to define a specific area of interest.

2. Information Seeking Strategies
Students were presented with a number of sources such as books, artefacts and computers and were encouraged to select the best possible source for their inquiry.

3. Location and Access
Students were given time and access to resources such as computers and print material in order to locate relevant information.

4. Use of Information
Relevant information was extracted and written down onto a retrieval chart.

5. Synthesis
Information that had been collected in note form was then organised and transferred onto a poster. In groups, students had to orally present their visual representation with accompanying information to the class.

6. Evaluation
Limited self-evaluation was undertaken via class discussion. Teacher evaluation was also given.

Although the information learning activity followed the structure of ‘the Big 6’, there were a number of steps that could be improved, which will be discussed in more detail within this post.

Evaluation of the ILA against the Australian Curriculum

The ILA follows some aspects of the Australian History curriculum. Firstly, the inquiry question ‘What was life like as a convict’ was adapted from the ACARA inquiry questions presented in the Year 5 history draft. The question selected was chosen based on not only knowledge that students needed to know, but also to motivate student interest. Students then posed and investigated a range of sub-questions based on the main inquiry question.

The historical knowledge and understanding that students gain, closely relates to the ACARA history KLA. The ILA encourages students to develop knowledge within the following strands; sources, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy and significance.
The historical skills promoted within the ILA are also closely intertwined within the Australian curriculum. The ILA focuses on inquiry skills such as historical questions and research; the analysis and use of sources; and explanation and communication (ACARA, 2012). There are a number of other skills that the Australian history curriculum promotes that could have been included within the ILA. These include a greater knowledge of terms and concepts and the use of evidence to support information found. Including these skills to a greater degree may have enhanced students’ knowledge and allowed for a deeper understanding of the topic.

 Evaluation of the ILA against relevant information literacy and inquiry models

The Big 6

The ILA followed very similarly the structure of ‘The Big 6’. ‘The Big 6’ focuses on the inquiry process and encourages students to ask questions, find suitable information which will then be synthesized to answer the initial inquiry question.(Murray, 2012) Although the inquiry process followed a similar structure. There were a number of ‘steps’ that could have been improved.

Firstly, within step 2- Information Seeking Strategies, students needed more clarity when selected the best source for the task. A large number of students chose to access the internet to seek information. Not because it was the best source, but because it was their preferred source.
Within step 3-Location and Access, students often encountered a great difficulty when trying to find specific information within various sources, specifically when searching on the internet. To improve this, students needed to learn strategies to enhance their online searching.
Lastly, step 6-Evaluation, students could have evaluated their completed project in more depth. Students were only given time to have an informal discussion about their completed task, whereby a more structured response such as a questionnaire, or extended KWL to judge the effectiveness and efficiency would have encouraged a greater depth of response.

GeST Windows

Gest windows is a model which reframes information literacy as being generic, situated and transformative. (Lupton and Bruce, 2010)
Firstly, when comparing the ILA to Gest windows, it is apparent that the skills that students have utilised predominantly fall under the ‘generic’ window and do not progress much further. According to Lupton and Bruce (2010) the generic window includes a strong use of measurable skills and processes used for finding and managing information. Within the ILA students were taught and expected to utilise basic search strategies to answer an inquiry question. Students had to present their information by way of an oral presentation with accompanying poster. Students were not encouraged to engage in authentic search processes, nor were they expected to challenge or transform the information in any way.
The situated window focuses on the skills included in the generic window, but also skills utilised through purposefully encountering and engaging with information. (Lupton and Bruce, 2010) If incorporated within the ILA, this more authentic method of learning would enable a deeper and more purposeful level of understanding for students. Students could have undertaken activities such as a debate to highlight contrasting perspectives (perhaps between convicts and the British government) or even within role plays highlighting convict life.

The transformative window focusses on utilising information literacy to “transform oneself and society” (Lupton and Bruce, 2010, p13) Learners are encouraged to challenge information. To utilise this technique within the ILA students would have to have a thorough understanding of the topic which would have the ability to encourage deep learning.
The ILA mainly focuses on skills from the ‘generic’ window. If skills from the situated and transformative window were utilised, students would have the potential to access and develop higher order thinking skills.

Blooms Revised Taxonomy

Blooms revised taxonomy focuses on encouraging students to utilise higher order thinking skills when learning.
When comparing the ILA to Blooms revised taxonomy it is clear a number of thinking skills are encouraged within the overall process.

When looking at the range of skills presented in Blooms revised taxonomy from lower to higher order we can see the following skills that are utilised and improvements that can be made within the ILA:

Remembering: Students must retrieve information about their chosen topic. It is important to note students are not expected to rote learn information about their topic which implies a deeper learning will take place.

Understanding: Students must interpret information to explain the answer to their focus question.

Applying: Students must find information and use it in order to answer specific questions.

Analysing: Students must analyse a variety of sources to find specific information suitable for their task. More support was needed in this area. Students struggled to find suitable information and lacked appropriate search skills and strategies.

Evaluating: Little is done in the way of evaluation. Students did not have to evaluate or justify their actions when carrying out the information search process. This area could be improved by allowing students to evaluate their and fellow students finished products. Students could also justify why they chose various sources of information in order to research their topic.

Creating: Students must produce a poster to display their information. However within this activity, little higher order thinking takes place. A higher order thinking activity within this category would be for students to generate or invent a new idea with their newfound knowledge. An example of this would be for students to create a method of transport that could exist in the 1700’s that would allow convicts to remain healthy throughout the duration of their voyage. For students to create or invent they must have a true understanding of the topic in order to construct new knowledge.

When undertaking the ILA students were encouraged to access a variety of skills from Blooms revised taxonomy. However, there were a number of improvements that could have been made in order to allow for a deeper understanding.

Recommendations for future practice

When analysing the ILA it was noted that specific parts of the activity worked well, where as other parts required improvement.
There were a number of things that worked well. Students enjoyed the inquiry question itself, which was ‘What was life like as a convict?’ Motivation levels were generally high as the majority of students had a keen interest in this area. To allow students to then choose a more specific focus gave them ownership of the task and further increased their enthusiasm. There was a variety of resources that students could choose from to research their chosen question. It was beneficial to have not only a large selection of books, but also access to a full sized computer lab as well as many hands on artefacts for students to view.

There were also a number of things that did not work.
Firstly, the very limited time that students had to complete the task hindered the inquiry process. Students did not have as much time as they needed to get a deep understanding of the topic. Also, there was a full week in between lessons which discouraged consistency in their learning.
Students needed more time to reflect on the process. At the conclusion of the unit students were only given a very short amount of time to discuss positive features and improvements to be made within their peer’s presentations. Because of this their reflections were only at a surface level and did not allow students to gain a thorough understanding of the process.

There were a number of improvements that could have been made in order to allow for it to be a stronger inquiry unit.
It would be great to have more involvement from other staff members such as the TL.
The TL has the power to be a valuable member of the guided inquiry team. Access to a wide range of resources that are necessary for the ILA are able to be provided by the TL (Kuhlthau, 2007). Furthermore, the TL in conjunction with the class teacher has the expertise to guide students through the information search process.

It was apparent that students struggled with searching online. They did not know the most effective search engines, websites and key words to use. They also had very little knowledge on the accuracy of information found on the internet. I was able to give a mini lesson on each of these topics, however students would  benefit from a more in depth study of these techniques.

Because students had such a difficult time in searching for their information it would have helped students the KWL model was to be extended to include- ‘How do I find out?’. This would enable students to have a clearer idea in how to locate specific information.
As previously mentioned, students reflection process was limited. This could be improved by extending the KWL to also include ‘How do I share what I learned?’ and ‘What will I do next time?’ Kuhlthau (2007) explains that undertaking these addition steps in the KWL allows students to construct new knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of the information search process.

Next, the information search process itself was not explained to students. There are many student friendly formats that would have allowed students to have a clearer direction and enabled them to understand where exactly they were heading.

An example of a student friendly ISP format

Lastly, for those students whose interest was waning, it would have been extremely beneficial to bring in an expert. For example, there are companies, such as Living Histories that do re-enactments of colonial Australia in full costume. A technique such as this would add to students’ knowledge base while creating a new found curiosity in the topic.

The guided inquiry method has many benefits. It has the ability to create a deep knowledge and understanding for students. It is important to reflect upon the ILA in many ways to discover positive features and improvements to be made. In doing this the development of a truly effective inquiry unit has the potential to transpire.

Reference List

Journals
Lupton, Mandy and Bruce, Christine. (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, pp.3-27.

Books
Kuhlthau, C. C. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Websites
Churches, Andres (2009). Blooms Revised Taxonomy
Retrieved from
http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/file/view/bloom%27s+Digital+taxonomy+v3.01.pdf

Eisenberg, M.B; Berkowitz. R.E (1987). The Big 6
Retrieved from
http://big6.com/

Fitzsimmons,Terry (2012). Living Histories
Retrieved from
http://www.livinghistory.com.au/

Murray, Janet (2012). The Big 6 Helps Students Achieve Standards
Retrieved from
http://big6.com/pages/lessons/articles/the-big6trade-helps-students-achieve-standards-by-janet-murray.php

Queensland Studies Authority (2012). History
Retrieved from
http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/History/Content-structure

Curriculum Documents
Queensland Studies Authority (2012) Assessment: History. Advice on implementing the Australian Curriculum P–10.
Retrieved from
http://www.qsa.qld.edu.au/downloads/early_middle/ac_history_assess_advice.pdf

Results of Data Analysis

Question 1

Question 1 of each of the questionnaires related to students knowledge of the topic, ‘What was life like as a convict?’

Statements written by students were coded as facts, explanation or conclusion.
In the first questionnaire the majority of statements were facts, gained from prior knowledge of the topic. This highlights that students have some foundation knowledge of the topic, but limited deep understanding.

In the second questionnaire, the highest numbers of results are again, fact results. During this time period, students were within the exploration and formulation stage. As students were still gathering data and information about their chosen topic they possibly had not synthesised the information to form deeper understanding and relevant conclusions.

The last questionnaire highlights the greatest increase overall and largest number of statements given by students as conclusion statements. This could be interpreted by assuming the majority of students have gained a deep understanding after undertaking the Information Search Process.
All three questionnaires have a  substantial number of explanation results. This could be explained by the fact that the majority of students have studied similar topics in recent years and with them bring a higher level of understanding than a student who has no prior knowledge, or this could be due to the fact that some students have not yet reached a deep level of understanding of the topic.

Question 2


Question two asked students to rate their interest in the topic ranging in order from least to most interest from the following responses:

  • Not at all
  • Not much
  • Quite a bit
  • A great deal

In Questionnaire 1 students results highlighted a keen interest in the topic, this could be attributed to the fact that it was a new topic, and students were interested in learning about it.
The most substantial increase in results is highlighted within questionnaire 2. When asked to rate their interest there was a large jump in the response ‘not much’. It is apparent that student’s interest had waned. This could possibly be explained by the stage of the research process students were within. As previously mentioned, the majority of students were within the exploration and formulation stage when answering questionnaire 2. Kuhlthau (2007) highlights how during this stage students often feel a sense of confusion and doubt and can easily become frustrated and discouraged. Due to such feelings many students want to give up the research process and lose interest in the given topic.

Questionnaire 3 displays an increase in favourable responses and a large drop in unfavourable responses, with no students selecting ‘not at all’ and a drop in ‘not much’. This could be attributed to the fact that students may have felt a sense of relief as they had just presented their assessment piece to the class and had also witnessed a number of presentations. Fresh information presented by peers may have evoked interest in the topic encouraging a positive response on the questionnaire.

Question 3

Question 3 asked students to rate their perceived knowledge on the topic on a given scale. Students had a choice of 4 options, ranging from least to most:

  • Nothing
  • Not much
  • Quite a bit
  • A great deal

Students response of ‘nothing’ stayed consistently low throughout all 3 questionnaires. This could be attributed to the fact that the majority of students did bring prior knowledge to the table within this unit of work.
The response ‘not much’ got progressively within lower each questionnaire,

Zero students selected the response ‘a great deal’ at the beginning of the unit highlighting students lack of confidence and limited understanding of the topic. This favourable response increased from no students to over a third of the students feeling they knew ‘a great deal’ about the given topic. This result shows how student’s knowledge acquisition progressed positively throughout the unit.

Questions 4 and 5


Questions 4 and 5 focus on asking students over the course of the unit what research skills they find easy and difficult to use. They are asked these questions at the start, during and at the completion of the research task. Question 4 highlights what aspects of the task students find easy, whereas Question 5 focusses on student difficulties.

Questionnaire 1 was administered at the beginning of the unit. It is seen that there is a strong emphasis on students feeling confident with their use of technology to complete research; this is likely to be because of their comfort with technology. I also suspect this is a popular response as the students enjoy using computers, not necessarily just to research. This response demonstrates one student’s enjoyment of technology in general, however he has not related this particular question to his research project.

Another common response was students ease of utilising books to find information. Traditionally students have used print resources such as books to complete research tasks. Their familiarity with this format has encouraged confidence and ease of use.
Interestingly, a common difficulty listed was utilising books as a research tool. I suspect this being due to the large number of students in this class who have struggle to read and comprehend information.
A number of students also mentioned their prior knowledge relating to their research topic as a positive feature as they could relate this knowledge to their task.


This response would have featured due to the majority of students having completed similar tasks on related topics in the past.

Utilising speaking skills to communicate new understandings effectively is made prominent within the difficulties students face within a research task. This response could indicate student’s hesitation of public speaking and possible struggles with previous assessment tasks.
The variety of given responses in questionnaire one validate students’ knowledge of the basic processes needed to undertake a research task. There was an emphasis on basic fact finding and restating of information which does not demonstrate the processes required to gain a deep understanding.

Questionnaire two was administered in the midst of the unit whereby the majority of students would have been undertaking the exploration stage.

During the exploration stage, students are overcome with doubt and frustration (Kuhlthau, 2007). This can be seen in the prominent increase of student’s difficulty with being able to ‘find, evaluate and select appropriate resources to answer questions.’  The exploration stage is the most difficult stage in the ISP. This particular response highlights the confusion and frustration some students feel when undertaking this stage:

Questionnaire two also highlight a large decline in responses relating to that of mastery of technology. This could be attributed to the fact that students were having difficulty accessing appropriate websites that were not blocked by Education Queensland. It was also noted that students were having trouble knowing exactly what to search for and lacked appropriate skills relating to search strategies.

One aspect I found strangely lacking in questionnaires 1 and 2 was any mention of the validity or accuracy of information. This omission highlights that students may possibly believe that anything read on the internet can be taken as truth. The following response demonstrates this fact:

Questionnaire 3 was completed at the conclusion of the unit; also the same day students presented their research task to the class.
The most notable increase is that of students finding ease in using speaking skills to communicate new understandings effectively. Because students are in the presentation stage of the ISP a strong sense of satisfaction and accomplishment is often achieved. These results could also be due to a sense of relief having completed their research task and presenting it to the class.

There is a small increase of students ease in reading and viewing information in order to make meaning from their research task. It is hopeful that this result demonstrates that these students have achieved a greater depth of knowledge through completing the ILA.

Question 6 (Questionnaire 2)

In the middle and at the end of the unit students are asked how they feel about their research. During Questionnaire 2 students have a choice of the following responses:

  • Frustrated
  • Overwhelmed
  • Confused
  • Confident

The majority of the class find themselves to be frustrated or confused. That the bulk of the class finds themselves to be confused and frustrated is not a huge surprise. Kuhlthau (2007) states that the exploration stage is the most difficult, complicated and confusing stage of the ISP.

However, there is still a substantial amount of students who feel confident during this process. Perhaps this is attributed to the fact they feel they feel they have moved passed the exploration stage and have gained a sense of clarity, and with that, confidence.

Question 6 (Questionnaire 3) 


In the final questionnaire students were asked to reveal what they learnt in undertaking the research project. The majority of students listed fact statements, highlighting a limited depth of knowledge. This could be attributed to students limited knowledge of the topic or perhaps a restricted understanding of the task itself.
Just under half of the students surveyed listed either conclusion or explanation statements. This reveals that there are a number of improvements that need to be made to this ILA to allow for a larger number of students to develop a greater depth of knowledge, instead of merely fact finding.

Question 7 (Questionnaire 3)

Question 7 asks students how they feel about their research at the conclusion of the unit. Students are able to select one response from the following 4 choices (from unfavourable to favourable)

  • 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

At the conclusion of the unit an astounding 13 out of 16 students felt either happy or confident with their research task. A very minimal 3 students selected an unfavourable response.

Questionnaire 3 was administered at the conclusion of the unit and students had just completed the ‘presentation’ stage of the ISP. Kuhlthau (2007) states that during this stage students are usually satisfied with their progression through the unit and will feel a sense of satisfaction or disappointment with how they have worked. The overwhelming number of positive results on the questionnaire could be attributed to a number of factors; a sense of relief at the task being completed and therefore a favourable response on the questionnaire or perhaps a feeling of satisfaction with their progression through the unit. It is not surprising that a small number of students completed the unit feeling unhappy or confused. This merely highlights that at the conclusion of the presentation stage that some students will feel a sense of disappointment. The fact that such a large number of students feel so favourably towards their work completed within the unit highlights that the guided inquiry method allows for a deeper understanding and a strong sense of accomplishment when persevering through the task. This style of learning encourages students to “gain a sense of ownership and accomplishment in the work they are producing.” (Kuhlthau, 2007, p8)

Tracked Students

A subset of five students have been tracked. These students represent both male and female genders and a range of academic levels.

 Question 2 (Questionnaires 1,2,3)



Student level of interest has been monitored over the duration of the ILA.
Collaboratively, the majority of students interest level has increased, possibly due to the nature of the ILA focussing on engaging students in deeper learning. The first questionnaire was administered before the unit had commenced, and results showed initially, students had little interest for yet another unit on colonisation.
However, after completing a KWL students began to see they had more ownership of the task, thus creating a higher level of interest and motivation.

During questionnaire 2, students 1,2,3 and 5 level of interest had not yet increased, but instead remained the same. This may be due to the fact students appeared to have some difficulty during the exploration stage in locating appropriate information. More guidance during this challenging stage would have helped to combat this problem.

 Question 3 (Questionnaires 1,2,3)


A comparison over the 3 questionnaires asking students of their perceived level of knowledge of the topic area has been tracked. All students at the commencement of the unit perceived their level of knowledge to be at the lower end of the scale, selecting the response ‘not much’. An Analysis of questionnaire 2 highlights only a small increase or none at all of perceived level of knowledge. Students 2 and 4 perceived level of topic knowledge has remained stagnant during this stage. This is likely to be so as questionnaire 2 was administered during the exploration and formation phase of the ILA. This phase is difficult for students and the information encountered often conflicts with what students already know (Kuhlthau, 2007), hence the possible reason student responses have seen a very minimal increase during this stage.

Conclusion
The data analysis was completed on a selection of 16 Grade 5 students of varying academic levels and both genders studying the topic of Australian colonisation.
The SLIM toolkit in conjunction with class observations, KWL and  the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner were utilised.
The above findings highlight how guided inquiry has the capacity to encourage  students to achieve exceptional results and a deep understanding of the nominated topic. However, there are many areas in which the analysed ILA can be improved in order for all students to have the opportunity to succeed.
Further recommendations are discussed in an upcoming blog post.

References
Kuhlthau, C. C. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Actions Taken after Questionnaires One and Two

After administering and analysing both questionnaire 1 and 2, it was apparent that there were a number of actions that could be taken in order to improve student learning.

Firstly, it was clear that students had much difficulty finding information on the internet.
Students struggled in knowing where to find information, what search strategies to use and how to use search engines efficiently and appropriately.
As information collection is a major component of the research task it was obvious that if students could not undertake this skill effectively, they would have huge difficulties in completing their research task. I was able to take a small amount of time in which to demonstrate how to search efficiently for information. Key words for internet searches were brainstormed and basic search strategies, utilising Boolean phrases were modelled.
In hindsight, I realise the limited amount of time I had to teach these skills only touched upon what students needed to know. In order for students to truly be able to search effectively they would have needed a lot more time, guidance and opportunities to practice these skills.

After the questionnaire analysis it was apparent that students did not at all question the validity of the information found on the internet. It was clear that students had taken any piece of information found on the internet, from Wikipedia, to Yahoo answers, to various forums as the absolute truth. This was an eye-opener and probably something that I would not have considered if I had not administered and analysed the questionnaires.
In order to combat this alarming realisation, I took this opportunity to teach the students a mini-lesson highlighting the validity of information found on the internet. Again, with teaching time at such a premium and having to fit in all the requirements of the C2C, this lesson could have been improved with the addition of more time and depth.

Student’s greatest challenge during the information search process was during the exploration and formulation phase of the task. Students had great difficulty in knowing exactly how and where to locate information about their chosen topic and how to form a focused perspective. With this realisation, I focussed on guiding the students who were still in this phase in order to move forward. This allowed me to reflect that perhaps more guidance and structure was needed from the start of the unit.

By analysing questionnaires 1 and 2, it was clear that there were a number of improvements and actions that needed to be made. By adjusting my teaching plan, students had a greater opportunity in which to reach a deeper level of knowledge and understanding. This highlights that taking the time to reflect on an existing unit of work while still in progress is necessary in order to create an effective ILA.
To make this unit truly successful, many recommendations for future practice would be encouraged. These details are discussed in a future blog post.

Methodology

The unit taught was a Year 5 SOSE Unit on Australian colonisation. The students who undertook the unit were a co-educational class of 25 state school students of varying abilities.
The data was gathered using the three questionnaire templates from the SLIM toolkit.

Students completed questionnaire 1 at the beginning of the unit. Questionnaire 2 was completed in the middle of the unit (week 3) and questionnaire 3 completed at the conclusion of the unit. Although a class of 25 students undertook the unit studied, only 16 students were present to complete all 3 questionnaires therefore only these 16 questionnaires will be analysed. However, the questionnaires which have been omitted from this study have been checked for consistency of the themes and standards found.

The data has been analysed using guidelines from the SLIM toolkit.
Themes within specific questions have also been developed from the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner.
In addition to the questionnaires, a number of extra methods in which to gather student data were undertaken. These included student observations and a KWL chart.

Reflecting on Feedback

Giving and receiving feedback  has been a beneficial exercise. However, it is sometimes daunting to give feedback when you do not feel exactly ‘qualified’ to do so.
In giving feedback to my group members I considered the recommended structure:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • What I have learned
  • Other references or considerations

Having these guidelines made the process of giving feedback a lot clearer.
I firstly found that I needed to refer to the assessment guidelines and criteria sheet when considering the strengths and weaknesses of my group member’s blog posts.
Doing this allowed me to also contemplate my own blog postings and upcoming blog entries and enabled me to have a clearer direction on where I was travelling.

Giving feedback on what I had learned and suggesting other references encouraged me to consider what new knowledge I had gained through reading my groups blog posts. It also allowed me to reflect on what I had learned thus far in CLN650 and provide some of these understandings to my group.

Receiving feedback was an extremely valuable task. It is always constructive to view your own work from another person’s perspective. In doing so, I gained some extremely useful tips that I was able to use in my future expert search strategies and blog posts. This new knowledge has also allowed me to refine the information presented in my blog posts, making it clearer for others to understand.

Database Comparison

This is an analysis of the information found when using a number of different databases/ search engines. My aim was to type in the same search terms for the purpose of finding information for my ILA and to analyse the results found between various databases.

Search Terms used: inquiry based learning/ inquiry learning AND social studies/ SOSE AND primary/ elementary NOT science

The results are as follows:

Database Name

Features

Results

A+ Education
  • Results can be filtered by: Author, title, date, period of time, location, publication
  • Thesaurus feature for search terms
  • Search is to be conducted using Boolean phrases
  • Very limited amount of results (4)

Results are compiled from education    based:

  • Journal articles
  • Scholarly papers
  • Theses etc.

 

ERIC
  • Basic search or advanced search available
  • Results can be filtered by: date, location, source types, subject, publication, educational level, intended audience

 

  • Limited amount of results (10)

Results are education based-

  • Journal articles
  • Documents
  • Resources

 

ProQuest Education
  • Basic search or advanced search available
  • Results can be filtered by: date, location, source type, publication, document, subject, classification, company, author, tags, language
  • Substantial amount of results (539)

Results are compiled from over 900 educational based publications and include:

  • Scholarly journals
  • Dissertations and theses
  • Trade journals
  • Magazines

 

Google Scholar
  • Google Scholar advanced search tool
  • Results can be filtered by: author, title, date, period of time, location
  • Links to ‘related articles’ provided
  • Large amount of results ( 3,510)
  • Large amount of results ( 3,510)

Results are limited to scholarly articles-

  • Journal and conference papers
  • Academic books
  • Theses
  • Dissertations
  • Legal documents
  • Various sources are searched to retrieve results (e.g ERIC database

 

Google
  • Google advanced search tool
  • Localised web pages (e.g Australia only)
  • Web pages can be searched for based on dates

The ability to search for only:

  • Images
  • Maps
  • Videos
  • Extensive amount of results (157,000)

Wide variety of sources:

  • Blogs
  • Lesson plans
  • Journals
  • Government websites
  • Primary book publishers
  • Curriculum documents
  • Personal websites
  • Databases (e.g ERIC)

 

As highlighted, each search tool as its own unique features, and some are more useful than others to search for specific items. Just because one search tool, for example, ‘Google’ reveals a vast amount of results, it does not mean it is a better tool. In this instance, I received a whopping 157,000 results, the majority of which would not be relevant to my ILA. This would require some extensive filtering in order to find relevant articles.
In the other instance, less is not more either. When searching with A+ Education, my search only yielded 4 results. None of these articles were particularly relevant to my ILA.
Through this exercise I have learned that different search tools have varied features and in order to gain useful and relevant information it is often best to utilise a number of tools in which to do so. Restricting yourself to one or two search engines or databases may not save time, and ultimately may not yield necessary information.