As part of my information gathering earlier this semester, I analysed my progress using the stages outlined in Kuhlthau’s model of Information Search Process. (ISP) I certainly experienced strong feelings during each of those stages. At this stage of the semester I have decided to have a look at another model, namely the Alberta Inquiry Model. I selected this model after taking a look at the particular features, and finding that I was able to align these with the information gathering, and inquiry processes that I have worked through this semester. The Alberta Inquiry Model (2004) is illustrated below.
The Alberta Inquiry Model
One of the significant features of this model that I particularly like that it shows that an information journey involves the learner revisiting different stages as part of an inquiry process. This semester I found myself constantly moving forwards and backwards (some might say one step forward, three steps back!!!) as I worked through a process of inquiry. In particular as I discovered new information, I needed to link it to information I had previous developed, re-organising this information as a result. In addition, this process forced me to reflect upon my inquiry process. On more than a number of occasions I reflected upon whether I was on the right track, or if I needed to indeed change my focus.
This model also made me rethink the process of reflection and evaluation in an inquiry learning experience. I now realise that this processes are not the end result of an inquiry process, but are in fact a constant feature throughout as I linked new information to my previous discoveries. I would suggest that this reflection is indeed an essential element in all stages of an inquiry journey, to ensure that authentic learning takes place. In terms of my professional practice I have been reminded through looking at the Alberta Model for Inquiry that evaluation involves looking at the complete process a child works through, and not simply about making judgements about the product they are asked to produce at the end of the unit. I need to be mindful of this when planning learning activities within my classroom.
During the semester I have gained confidence in my own information journey as I have come to the realisation that no two people work through an inquiry process in exactly the same way. The features of the Alberta Inquiry Model in particular emphasised this to me. As part of my professional practice I need to constantly remind myself of this as I work with students. By looking at the Alberta Model for Inquiry I now have an increased awareness of how my learners might experience any future inquiry process, and also how I can better facilitate and provide learning experiences for my students which will support them as they work through their own inquiry journey. I need to be particularly mindful in a primary school context that this journey will be very different for early years students in comparison to students in the upper years.
My study this semester has certainly made me rethink the inquiry process I have been part of so far as part of my Master’s study, particularly relating to how I can more effectively and efficiently access and use the exhaustive amount of information sources available to me.