This blog post outlines the findings of my analysis of my Information Learning Activity this semester.
Question 1 – Take some time to think about your topic. Now write down what you know about it.
An analysis of Question One average responses across the three questionnaires, showed primarily fact based statements. A look at the average responses across this question shows only minimal development in terms of the early years students ability to provide either explanation or conclusion statement. This could be interpreted in a number of ways:
- the students did not necessarily develop deeper knowledge and understanding in terms of information literacy skills
- the students were not provided with opportunities to demonstrate a depth of understanding
- being an early years class they had difficulty expressing their understanding in written form.
A look at the fact statements across the three questionnaires show that students made steady progress throughout this Information Learning Activity. The responses showed that students generally had developed a significant amount of knowledge about their Information Learning Activity topic. It is interesting to note that on a number of occasions there is a significant dip in fact statements in the second questionnaire, before an increase again during the third questionnaire. It needs to be noted that during the period of time that the second questionnaire was administered there was significant amount of children absent for up to two weeks due to Influenza A. This most certainly had an impact on the students’ progress at that stage of the Information Learning Activity. It should be noted also that the quality of the fact statements steadily improved over the course of the Information Learning Activity. The responses became more relevant and specific to the topic under investigation.
Most children showed some increase in all the statement types over the course of the Information Learning Activity. The number of fact statements increased the most significantly. Looking at the explanation statements provided on the three questionnaires show that 13 children were able to demonstrate some progress in terms of their depth of understanding, however this was not consistent. There was a limited demonstration of conclusion statements during data collection.
According to Kuhlthau, effective guided inquiry can start with fact finding. But in order for it to be an authentic inquiry experience, opportunities must be provided for students to interpret these facts. While as part of this Information Learning Activity, discussions and activities were conducted to encourage the children to reflect upon their information gathering skills and methods, they had difficulty representing things that they had discussed in written form. By providing opportunities to “synthesis and reflect on factual knowledge, students are then able to construct new ideas and deeper understanding.” (Kuhlthau et al, 2007)
Upon reflection, data collection results may have been enhanced if as the teacher I had given the children examples of what fact explanation and conclusion statements looked like. (I could have done this both related to the Information Learning Activity context and others also.) Also, although special needs students were given opportunities to respond to questions orally, the remainder of students could have benefited from this opportunity also. On this particular occasion however time constraints would have made this quite difficult. By analysing the student’s responses, it is evident that there was limited skill development in terms of deeper understanding of the history topic.
For the purpose of this analysis, this group of students were selected to include mixed gender and mixed ability (a verified child, gifted children, and mixed ability children were selected) Over the course of the Information Learning Activity it is clear that all students were able to provide increased fact statements about the Information Learning Activity topic. Similar to the whole class pattern, there was a decrease for a number of responses from a number of these students on the second questionnaire
Analysis of responses from individual students was extremely inconsistent. Four children were unable to provide any responses beyond factual. Student A and C both have high level language skills and were therefore able to provide responses at the conclusion of the Information Learning Activity which were of a higher quality than at the beginning.
The patterns which have emerged as part of the whole class analysis of conclusion statements are repeated for the individual students.
Question 2 – How interested are you in this topic?
Key: 0 = not at all 1=not much 2=quite a bit 3=a great deal
Interpretation: The second question asked the children to mark on a scale to indicate their level of interest in the topic at three specific times during the information learning activity. Generally the level of interest stayed relatively similar for questionnaire one and two. Analysis of the results showed however that there was a decrease in interest level at the time that the final questionnaire was administered. When questioned there were a number of reasons given for this pattern, they were sick of learning about the topic, they had finished the activity so wanted to learn something new and they wanted a holiday (Out of the mouth of babes) This pattern can be aligned with the feelings of relief that are consistent with the stage of accomplishment described by Kuhlthau (2007). It is interesting to note that the three students who indicated little or no interest in the topic in the early stages of the Information Learning Activity felt the same at the end of the unit of work. One quarter of students consistently demonstrated a great deal of interest in the topic over the course of the Information Learning Activity.
Key: 0 = not at all 1=not much 2=quite a bit 3=a great deal
Analysis of the individual students showed some honest responses. During the completion of these surveys, I became aware that there were a number of students who selected “a great deal ” for their interest level as they thought that was “the right answer”. These students were as a result not included in this individual group. Three students expressed a great deal of interest in the topic at the beginning of the Information Learning Activity. As with the patterns found in the whole class, there was a decrease interest level for these students for the subsequent surveys. When questioned, these students felt that they had learnt everything about the chosen topic, and that they were ready to learn something new. At this point of the analysis I need to remember that although these students may have ranked their interest level at quite a bit or a great deal, I could not presume that this will automatically mean that deep learning has taken place.
Looking at the two students who indicated that they had ‘not much’ interest in the topic, one has a similar lack of enthusiasm towards most topics discussed in class. This particular student’s however generally achieves at or above given standards consistently across curriculum areas. The other student, a verified child consistently only displays interest in topics that are of personal significance to him, and is often fixated on these topics as part of his disability.
Key: 0 = not at all 1=not much 2=quite a bit 3=a great deal
Key: 0 = not at all 1=not much 2=quite a bit 3=a great deal
In Question 3 of the administered questionnaires, the children were asked to describe, using a given scale the indicator that they felt best described their knowledge of the chosen topic at the three specific stages of the inquiry process. In the majority of cases, there was clear positive development as overall knowledge levels increased over the course of the three questionnaires.
By the end of this unit of work, it is clear that the children had acquired new knowledge about the history topic under discussion. One quarter of the class felt that they now have a great deal of knowledge about the topic. Significantly 7 students felt that their knowledge acquisition was no different from the middle of the unit of work to the conclusion. This pattern may be because a number of students voiced that the excursion activity which occurred around the time of the second survey was the activity that they were able to gain the greatest knowledge from. Only one child expressed that they had limited knowledge in the third survey.
Key: 0 = not at all 1=not much 2=quite a bit 3=a great deal
As this stage of analysis, I need to remember, like with student’s attitudes towards their learning, I cannot assume that the students who acknowledge limited interest in this topic have necessarily achieved limited results. Student F reported consistently across the three questionnaires that he had “not much” interest in the topic, however on the Reflection Sheet 3 he responded that he felt that he now knew “a great deal” about this same topic. (In fact the highest rating of all individual students in question) All individual students demonstrated positive development with knowledge acquisition over the course of the Information Learning Activity. It needs to be noted that a number of the children felt that their knowledge dropped at the time of the second questionnaire being administered. This could be attributed to the previously mentioned illnesses during this time period.
Throughout the inquiry student A, C and D showed particular skill strengths in their ability to ask relevant questions in regards to information literacy skills, however all showed this decrease in knowledge acquisition during the second questionnaire. These particular students did in fact know ‘a great deal’ about the topic but did not record this on their reflection sheet. Student E who stated “not much” interest in the given topic over the course of the Information Learning Activity was still able to say that he had learnt quite a bit in both the second and final questionnaire. Student B, who expressed at the beginning of the Information Learning Activity she did not know anything about the given topic, still consistently expressed a significant amount of interest in the topic over the course of the Information Learning Activity. From observation and questioning she also developed a great deal of confidence in her ability to be able to gathering information from a range of sources over the course of the unit of work.
Question 4 – When you do research, what do you generally find easy to do?
Interpretation: Question four required the children to express what they found easy to do when conducting research on a topic. Analysis of the students responses was conducted using related strands from the Standards for the 21st Century Learner. The graph above shows the patterns of skill development for this class over the course of the Information Learning Activity. There were significant areas of skill development and strengths over this period which could be aligned to the 21stCentury Learners Standards. In particular students felt that they had developed particular skills in being able to develop and use successful stretegies for locating information. This could be attributed to the fact that there was numerous opportunities throughout this Information Learning Activity to collect information from a range of primary and secondary information sources, and the children felt quite confident with this as a result. In addition to this, student responses also indicated that they felt they were able to access information efficiency and effectively. This judgement was based on the questionnaire responses and also from information collected as part of a KWL chart activity which was conducted at the beginning and end of the unit of work. Students were also able to demonstrate through this KWL activity that they could develop questions which led to appropriate information.
An analysis of individual student responses in relation to the Related Strands from the Standards for the 21st Century Learner skills showed particular patterns of skill development. Like the whole class analysis particular strengths were found in regards to developing and using successful strategies for collecting information, and accessing information effectively and efficiently. Student A demonstrated particular progress in her ability to integrate new information into her existing knowledge base, and her ability to select information which related to the given question or problem that was pose. Student D demonstrated particular skills in being able to think critically in problem solving situations. It must be noted that he has consistently been able to demonstrate particular skills in this area in a range of contexts throughout the year. In addition to the questionnaire responses, given that this is an early years class, I spent some time interviewing this group of children about what they found easy to do when researching. These interviews were conducted at the same time as the formal questionnaires. Verbal responses as part of Questionnaire One included using friends to find out information, using the internet, finding it easier when they were interested in the topic, and knowing that they could always ask the teacher. During the middle of the ILA the children expressed that going on an excursion helped them to gain lots of informaiton, that they like to be able to talk to people to find out things, and that while they were getting better at using the internet and google, they still liked having a teacher there to help. Questionnaire Three responses included having a KWL chart to give them direction for their learning, using friends and teachers, and having pictures to look at aided their understanding at this stage of the Information Learning Activity. Students also felt that they were getting better at planning how they were going to find information, and were feeling more confident in organising information that they had found.
Based on the above responses, the children have demonstrated that they have increased awareness of an inquiry based process and have demonstrated an awareness of the need to find information from a variety of sources to gain new understanding of the given topic. It was interesting to note that students still saw the teacher as a source of information at the conclusion of the Information Learning Activity. From my own observation my role however changed over the course of the Information Learning Activity as I moved from the “provider” to the guide or facilitator as students became more independent in their information gathering skills.
Question 5 – When you do research, what do you generally find difficult to do?
Interpretation: For Question 5 on the questionnaire the children were asked to identify the skills they found difficult to do when researching. Their responses were once again analysed using the Standards for the 21st Century Learner. There were 5 significant strands that could be linked to student’s responses in terms of things that they found difficult. Of particular concern was being able to determine the accuracy of information that they found. I felt as early years students; this demonstrated that there was significant shift in the students mindset that they were able to express concerns with this standard. Previous observations of this early years group of children showed that they were generally very literal in their thinking, and did not question either the authenticy of information that they read or the source that they used to gain this information. Two other standards which stood out as areas of difficulty for the children could also be linked to the developmental stage of the children participating in this Information Learning Activity. Being able to identify inaccurate or misleading information and being able to distinguish between facts, point of view and opinion. It is my hope that this pattern of thinking will diminish in future units of work as they confidence as information literate learners increases, and they become more independent.
Interestingly, although a significant group of students voiced through their responses that they had developed and were able to use successful strategies for developing information, this was also seen by sectors of the class as an area that they still have difficulty with. It is essential that I consider all these aspects of difficulty and use them as a starting point for me as I work towards developing future units of work for this group of learners.
An analysis of individual students responses for this question showed some interesting patterns. Significantly or coincidentally, responses provided by the individual students were linked to three particular standards, unlike the whole class analysis where there were five significant strands that students could be mapped against. Although student’s responses in question four in terms of strength was the development and use of successful strategies for location information, this was also seen as a significant area of difficulty for students. It is very clear through this that they are on a journey in regards to skill development in this area. Once again, like the patterns found in the whole class analysis, students in this group found it difficult to ascertain the accuracy of information. This is clearly an strand which should be of particular focus within future units of work. Once again, like with question four, this group of students were interviewed over the course of the unit as part of data gather. During the initial reflection, students express difficulty in learning about topics that they were not interested in, knowing which website to use, finding it hard to read information, knowing if the information was true, and thinking on their own without teacher assistance. During the middle stages of the Information Learning Activity students expressed difficulty in “doing it on their own”, wondering what they were missing, where to go and what information to use. At the conclusion of the unit students were more worried about thinking, remembering information, and presenting information. These responses demonstrated students progress in regards to information literacy skills. In particular a number of students began to talk about the accuracy of information, and wondered about what they needed to collect and what they didn’t, a significant shift in thinking for this early years class.
Question 6 – What did you learn from doing this project?
Interpretation: The final questionnaire as part of this analysis asked children the question ‘What did you learn from doing this project?’ Some of the respondants for this question had to be eliminated from this analysis as they listed specific information about the history topic, rather than specific responses about their information literacy skill development. Many of the responses that were given could be connected to stages of inquiry,and students demonstrated knowledge of locating, accessing, organising, communicating and evaluating information. Significant response from this early years cohort include:
- You use different things to collect information
- You need to think more and be careful
- You need to be careful with spelling
- Sometimes it is hard and sometimes it is easy (depending on what you are looking for)
- Sometimes you can use the internet and learn a lot
- You would have to think who would have the information and when you would use google.
- That it was hard using the internet.
- That you can get information from many different places.
It is clear through these responses and individual questioning that students are indeed on the beginning of a journey to develop information literacy skills and knowledge. Significantly there has been a shift in thinking for these digital natives from thinking that they were going to be able to get all that they need from the internet, particularly google, to voicing that it was sometimes hard using the internet, and that you have to think about who had the information that they need. Although results of this analysis indicate a low level of development in regards to development thinking skills beyond fact finding (referring to the limited range of explanation and conclusion statements the children were able to provide) The responses that they were able to provide in a lot of cases demonstrated a growing awareness of inquiry based process.
Across the cohort selected for individual analysis two students Student A and F were able to demonstrate significant skill development as a result of participation in this learning experience. This result was evident in their end product, in their everyday participation during questioning and information gathering sessions, and through their ability to apply these skills to a growing range of contexts. Although his information literacy skill development was not as strong as Student A and Student F , Student D showed particular development in thinking processes through his responses. In particular Student D, who from the beginning of year 2 has wanted to spend all day on laptops (if he was given the opportunity) stated that he had learnt that you can get information from many different places, and that you had to think about when you need to use google.
During this data collection activity I have examined, analysed and appraised the implementation of the inquiry-based learning activity, XXXX Then and Now” which was conducted with a class of 24 Year 2 students. This analysis was conducted using the School Library Impact Measure (SLIM) Toolkit (Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinström, 2005) and the sample size of twenty students, were then compared to a small group of 6 students. This provided opportunity for patterns of evidence to develop in regards to development of Information Literacy skills. Through this analysis I was also able to identify areas of strength and areas that need to be a focus in future inquiry based units of work. It has become clear that these digital natives are only just beginning the journey in developing information literacy skills. It is essential that they continue to be provided with a merid of opportunities to interact in an inquiry based learning environment to ensure that they have the best opportunity to develop information literacy skills for lifelong learning. The use of a range of information gathering techniques during this Information Learning Activity including the use of ICLT’s were not only an important part of this inquiry learning experience, but also helped the students to maintain engagement with the topic. The length of this learning experience however needed to be reassessed for the same reason as students level of interest in the topic diminish by the end of the unit. In saying this however the students were provided with opportunity to engage with some of the principles of Guided Inquiry. Some of these learners were able to demonstrate higher order thinking as a result. Upon reflection, it is essential for me as the facilitator on this journey to provide as many opportunities as possible for repetition and reflecting of the inquiry process over time, so that students are given the best possible opportunities to learn and grow into lifelong learners.
Further recommendations for future teaching practices have be included in a subsequent blog post.
American Association of School Libraries (AASL). (2009). “Standards for the 21st Century Learner”. Retrieved on 15 August, 2012 from http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/guidelinesandstandards/learningstandards/standards.cfm
American Association of School Librarians (AASL), & The Association for Educational Communications & Technology. (1998). Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning. Chicago: American Library Association.
Kuhlthau, C. C. M., Leslie K. & Caspari, Ann K. (2007). Guided inquiry: learning in the 21st century. Retrieved 15 September 2012 from http://cissl.rutgers.edu/guided_inquiry/introduction.html
Todd, R., Kuhlthau, C., & Heinstrom, J. (2005). Student Learning through Inquiry Measure (SLIM). Rutgers University: Centre for International Scholarship in School Libraries.