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How and to what extent can social intervention make a difference in boy’s reading motivation and skills at primary level?

1.    Introduction and Context

1.1      Context of the case study report

This case study is a post-hoc and ongoing action research analysis of an apparently successful reading club for primary school boys in an international school in Singapore. After the first year of operation – 2015/6, the club received positive feedback from teachers, parents and the members themselves. Drawing on the academic context of reading motivation, reading skills, and the role of social belonging in motivation and academic achievement, the study attempts to unpack whether the perceived success is grounded in verifiable data and if further analysis in combination with peer reviewed academic research can further improve practice and allow generalisation to other groups.

The importance of reading to academic achievement and the reciprocal relationship between reading motivation, ability, self-efficacy and skill is well documented (De Naeghel, Van Keer, Vansteenkiste, & Rosseel, 2012; Förster & Souvignier, 2014; Retelsdorf, Köller, & Möller, 2014). Alas, so too is the fact that boys persistently lag girls in reading level at every grade and are more likely to be reluctant readers or aliterate – able to read but not willing to do so (Hamston & Love, 2005; Loveless, 2015; Maynard, 2011; OECD, 2014; Retelsdorf, Schwartz, & Asbrock, 2015).

According to motivational research, belonging, or relatedness, along with autonomy and competence are considered basic essential ongoing needs. In the school context, belongingness correlates with student success, as students have a more positive academic attitude and are more engaged. But boys are less likely to have a sense of belonging (Dweck, Walton, & Cohen, 2014; Goodenow, 1993; Osterman, 2000).

The substantial body of literature on reading motivation, particularly as related to reluctant male readers can be summarized briefly as follows:

  • Extrinsic motivation in the form of physical, achievement or emotional rewards for reading is considered less effective in the long term than intrinsic motivation where reading is its own reward (Guthrie et al., 2007; Logan, Medford, & Hughes, 2011; Schaffner, Schiefele, & Ulferts, 2013; Stutz, Schaffner, & Schiefele, 2016).
  • Young students can gain social currency by “knowing stuff”, sharing books and reading however this diminishes around grade five as a result of peer devaluation of reading (Proctor, Daley, Louick, Leider, & Gardner, 2014).
  • Self-concept/efficacy – the belief in one’s own ability is usually overstated in boys and understated in girls and changes over time (De Naeghel et al., 2012; Förster & Souvignier, 2014; Klauda & Guthrie, 2015; Marinak & Gambrell, 2010; Retelsdorf et al., 2014). There are critical moments in this respect such as when students switch from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” (mid primary) and when reading load increases (upper primary) and low reading self-concept may result in work avoidance when students begin to avoid reading tasks due to low motivation and/or reading difficulties (Lee & Zentall, 2015).

1.2      School Context

The case study takes place at the primary school campus of an international school in Singapore with 620 students from Kindergarten to Grade 6. Up to a quarter of the students may be English Language Learners (ELL) and more than 40% of the students are bilingual. Student turnover in an international school can be up to 25% a year, making individualized longitudinal data collection difficult. The schools’ MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) testing, a computerised adaptive test of reading and mathematics (NWEA, 2016) mirrored global data (Loveless, 2015; Mullis et al., 2012; National Literacy Trust, 2012; OECD, 2014) in that boys lag girls in literacy at every grade while outperforming in mathematics.

At the beginning of the 2015/6 school year, the teacher librarian (TL) identified a number of ‘lost’ boys in grades 3-6 with little interest in borrowing books or reading. In response, a social club “Blokes with Books” (BWB) reading club was formed with voluntary membership led by a young male digital literacy coach with support in the background by the TL.

1.3      Case Study Purpose

The expected outcomes of this project are to reach a better understanding of a group of students as readers and to inform best practice going forward.  The label of “reluctant” by teachers, parents or librarians may mask a more complex interplay of factors including motivation, gender or other attitudes towards reading, (Love & Hamston, 2003; Martino, 2001; Mc Kenna, 1990) or underlying problems with reading skills, either as a result of teaching deficits or reading, learning or language issues (NEPS, 2012; Norton & Wolf, 2012; Scanlon, Gelzheiser, Vellutino, Schatschneider, & Sweeney, 2008; Silinskas et al., 2016; Zentall & Lee, 2012). The role of belonging to a social group as having a positive impact on boys at pivotal moments for reading and academic development is also a consideration (Osterman, 2000).

1.4      Case Study Questions

The main question is: “How and to what extent can social intervention make a difference in boy’s reading motivation and skills at primary level?” A number of sub-questions were designed:

  1. Is there any difference in reading progress between boys belonging to the BWB club and their peers?
  2. What is their attitude to reading and their self-concept as readers?
  3. Is there a difference in the number of books they read?
  4. Can digital technologies enhance reading experience or motivation for this group of students?
  5. How can the school best use data analytics to inform practice?

2. Methodology

2.1 Method and Participants

This was a qualitative, exploratory individual case study using data available from the school, supplemented by surveys, observations and interviews. The case study method is recommended where research is description, bounded, real-life with less control from the researcher and phenomena is studied in its context in order to develop theories or interventions and evaluate programs (Baxter & Jack, 2008; Gerring, 2004).

Participants were student members of the BWB club in September 2016 (n=24, ELL=3, all male, Modal age 10y0m, range 9y7m to 11y1m) and/or who had been members of the club since its inception in September 2015 (n=17). Where available, comparative data from all G5 students was used (n=71, ELL=9, male=36, female=35, Modal age 10y7m, Range 9y7m to 11y5m).

2.2  Data Collection and analysis

Prior to the study a consent form was provided to the BWB students’ parents (Appendix A, n=24), and the head of school was asked for permission do the case study and to use aggregated student data. Beside the survey and reading assessment data, comments of the BWB coordinator, teachers and parents were taken into account.

2.2.1   Reading ability

All mainstream (non-ELL) students from Grade one do in-class teacher-led reading assessments (RA) in September, January and April. A variety of benchmark tests are used so data were standardized to Lexile measures (Appendix E). Since the majority of the BWB students were currently in Grade 5 (n=24), it was decided to focus on the data of the 2015/6 Grade 4 cohort into Grade 5 in 2016/7 who were still at the school in September 2016. Students were coded as male (1) or female (2) and as being a member of BWB (BWB#) for the full year 2015/6 and start of 2016/7 (n=17) or just 2016/7 (n=6).

The second, comparative set of quantitative data came from the triannual NWEA MAP testing of all non-ELL students from Grades three to eight in mathematics and reading. The reading component includes a RIT (Rasch unit) score for the whole school by grade, by gender (Appendix G). Individual reports include an equivalent Lexile range and a growth rate compared to a growth projection.

Using both the RA and MAP test results, BWB students’ progress could be tracked over the years using two different test measures and also be compared to their peers.

2.2.2    Attitude and self-concept

The Elementary Reading Attitude (ERA) survey as adapted by Jung (2016) to measure effects of masculinity on motivation (Appendix B) was administered (n=23) during a BWB meeting by the coordinator. All G5 students took a reading self-concept survey “Me as a Reader” (MAAR) either in class or at home, using the nine self-concept questions from the MRP-R test (Malloy, Marinak, Gambrell, & Mazzoni, 2013) – Appendix D.

The ERA and MAAR survey results were rated on a Lickert scale with scores of one to four given for least positive to most positive responses. ERA questions were identified as either reading attitude or male reading attitude related (10 questions each). Statements were then ranked in order of most to least favourable to make inferences on student attitudes (Appendix C). Likewise, students were given a total “self-concept” score based on their responses.

2.2.3    Reading Volume and digital technologies

Library circulation statistics were downloaded from the Follett Destiny library system. Lesson plans and attendance sheets were available on a shared google drive and informal observation and documentation by photo and video was also done.

3.   Findings and Discussion

Parents and teachers were very enthusiastic about the effect of the club on students (Appendix L). It would appear that this school-wide club was more effective in meeting student social belonging needs and motivating them to read than efforts in individual classrooms. It is a non-threatening, non-pressurized environment that emphasizes books and reading as a pleasurable dynamic social activity rather than individual and silent (Studlo, 2016). According to the school counsellor, the BWB club complements the social-emotional work done with some of the students (Upston, 2016).

3.1      Reading Progress

According to a reading assessment data comparison between September 2015 (or first assessment date for new students) and September 2016 the following can be summarised:

RA Improvement All Girls Boys BWB 15/16
>15% 32 14 18 11
7-14% 4 2 2 0
0-6% 10 3 7 4
Negative 8 4 4 1
No Assessment / New 17 12 5 1
Total 69 31 38 17

Table 1: Reading Assessment Improvement September 2015-6

Although reading assessments are subjective, and results may depend on the individual teachers’ interpretation of the test and knowledge of the particular student being assessed, the data clearly shows that participation in a social reading club has a significant effect on reading progress. More than half of the boys showing improvement in reading were a member of BWB, most of them making a significant improvement (more than 15%). In the case of the BWB students who did not make an improvement, teachers thought further investigation needed to be undertaken to understand if there are underlying reading or language skill issues.

A longitudinal overview of the MAP RIT reading scores from Grade 3 to 5 for the whole school shows an interesting anomaly as the boys’ score exceeds that of the girls in September 2016.

  Gr 3 Gr 3 Gr 3 G4 G4 G4 G5
  Sep-14 Feb-15 May-15 Sep-15 Feb-16 May-16 Sep-16
All 196.1 202.4 204.6 206.0 209.9 213.4 214.4
Girls 197.0 202.7 204.0 206.8 210.7 213.9 213.7
Boys 195.3 202.1 205.1 205.3 209.1 212.9 215.0
BWB Average 197.3 207.5 204.4 206.4 213.4 214.2 214.5
NWEA 189.9 194.6 199.2 197.7 202.5 205.9 205.7

Table 2: MAP RIT scores 2014-2016

The average improvement of the BWB includes some individual variation:

MAP Improvement All BWB 15/16 BWB 16/17
7-14% 5 3 2
1-6% 11 7 4
0% 4 4 0
No Assessment / New 4 3 1
Total 24 17 7

Table 3: MAP score improvement

Although improvements are seen, they are not as substantial as those of the RA, so a detailed comparison was made for the BWB students, for whom all data was available.

# Students
Not tested 3
MAP ≅ RA 10
MAP < RA 4
MAP > RA 7
24

Table 4: MAP Lexile vs. RA Lexile for BWB students

As can be seen in Appendix I, compared to the MAP testing Lexile results, RA results varied with consistent bias. Discussion with individual teachers indicated lack of training and experience, time pressures and unreliable or absent data from prior years as significant factors impacting on the reliability of their data points.

3.2      Attitude, motivation and self-concept

Overall the students had a more positive attitude towards reading than to reading as a masculine activity. Drilling into the scores of specific students, struggling readers had a more negative attitude to reading than more successful readers, highlighting the importance of success in motivation (Allington, 2002).

Attitude score as % of 80 Overall Reading Masculine
Low < 65% 4 3 7
Medium 66-79% 13 7 7
High >80% 6 13 9
23 23 23

Table 5: Reading Attitude score

As can be seen below an analysis of the scores of individual questions yielded some interesting results. Students particularly liked it when a favourite author wrote a new book, and going to the library / bookstore was also highly ranked. In contrast, having to read in what they considered “their time” either during vacation, at playtime or in their free time at home was not appreciated. The results echo the findings of Martino (2001), that reading is devalued as a passive practice particularly when there are active hetero-masculine alternative activities (Frank, Kehler, Lovell, & Davison, 2003). The club focus on lively action related activities that increase exposure to books and genres (see lesson plans – Appendix K), rather than silent reading, to play into this need.

Since reading during the vacation ameliorates summer learning losses (Allington et al., 2010; Downey, von Hippel, & Broh, 2004; Hilsmier et al., 2014), and volume of reading predicts success (see next section) ways need to be found to make this more enticing (Shapiro & Whitney, 1997). Because reading during school time, either in class, during silent reading or free school time appears more acceptable, and this is more controllable by the school, the onus is on making it as effective as possible (Allington, 2002; Damber, Samuelsson, & Taube, 2012; Scanlon et al., 2008).

Q # Topic – reading attitude Score
14 Favourite author writes a new book 88
6 Going to the library 81
10 Going to a bookstore 79
17 Time for reading at school reading 78
13 Going to the bookfair 77
1 Reading in your free time at school 76
9 Reading different kinds of books 71
2 Reading in your free time at home 70
18 Reading on vacation 59
5 Reading instead of playing 49

Table 6: Reading Attitude Ranking

Male leaders (the Obama effect?) and grown men were seen to have a positive attitude to reading; male athletes aren’t seen in the same light. Ironically students enjoy it when other boys do book talks and make suggestions, but are loath to do so themselves, or to be seen reading during their free time.

Q # Topic – masculine attitude Score
20 Male leaders feel about reading 77
16 Grown men feel about reading 76
4 Other boys tell you about books they’ve read 73
12 Other boys give you suggestions about what to read 70
8 Other boys your age feel about reading 67
19 Male celebrities feel about reading 67
11 Older boys feel about reading 64
7 Other boys see you reading in your free time 58
3 Telling other boys about books you’ve read 55
15 Male athletes feel about reading 53

Table 7: Masculine Attitude Ranking

This would appear to indicate that the current spontaneous trend of voluntary book talks at the start of the BWB sessions is a positive development, as are their virtual recommendations on the BWB page of the online learning platform (OLP).

Looking at students’ self-concept as a reader would appear to confirm the gender bias of ability over-estimation by boys and under-estimation by girls (Marinak & Gambrell, 2010). But four of the five boys with a low self-concept were members of the BWB club and merit further investigation. For detailed data see Appendix D.

Self-concept as a reader All Girls Boys BWB
Low:         20-25 14 9 5 4
Medium:   26-31 38 18 20 13
High:       32-36 17 7 10 6
Absent 2 1 1 1
Total 71 35 36 24

Table 8: Self-concept as a reader comparison

3.3      Reading volume

Reading volume is an important predictor of both reading success and motivation (Damber et al., 2012; De Naeghel et al., 2012; Lee & Zentall, 2015; Schaffner et al., 2013; Smith, Smith, Gilmore, & Jameson, 2012; Stutz et al., 2016). Looking at the circulation data of students that generally shows an increase, only shows part of the picture, as students may have access to books at home or through the classroom or public library and not need to rely on the school library. Also, borrowing a book doesn’t guarantee that it is read. From the available data we can see the following:

  2014/5 to 2015/6 2015/6 to 2016/7
New students 4 2
Increased borrowing 12 18
Decreased borrowing 7 5
Total 23 25

Table 9: Reading volume – number of students per category

Number of books borrowed is not always a good indicator of the quality of reading. Decreases in number of books borrowed in some cases were due to mainstream and ELL students tackling longer and more advanced books. More concerning, for a few students the decrease appears to be the result of reading difficulties related to skills rather than motivation that need to be addressed separately.

3.4      Use of data analytics

One of the strengths of data analytics is that the amalgamation of large number of data points can show broad trends in an entire population. However drilling down to individual cases, particularly where subjective input created data, threw up inconsistencies as was seen in the analysis above. The problem with the current form of reading assessments is that they are subjective, missing data, use different standards and benchmarks and are cumbersome to use to extract and compare longitudinal data (Kame’enui et al., 2006).

While each piece of data is interesting in itself, this research would suggest in the case of multivariate phenomena such as reading, the combination of different types of data would improve its predictive and signalling power. An attempt to do this and incorporate the use of ‘warning’ parameters is seen in an extract below (full data in Appendix J). Parameters could be weighted according to their predictive ability and action taken accordingly. For example, that students with the most tags are monitored carefully with the involvement of the school counselling team, while the next group are flagged to their class teachers and receive a form of reading recovery and an eye is kept on others.

BYB # ERAS R ERAS M MAP Lexile MAP Δ GvP* RA Lexile Ave Circ 15/16 Ave Circ Aug-Sep 16 Self Concept # Tags
1 18 19 522 1% > 550 7.4 1.3 20 7
2 21 26 612 4% > 650 1.4 2.7 5
13 33 29 738 0% > 750 4.1 2.0 29 4
9 29 30 846 3% > 700 2.0 2.7 29 4
24 856 6% < 750 4.1 4.7 25 4
16 33 30 882 0% < 750 4.7 8.0 28 4
21 37 35 594 6% < 750 4.9 9.3 30 3
11 28 33 702 0% > 750 11.0 10.7 26 3
22 39 35 720 0% > 700 9.0 8.0 27 3
23 225 2.9 4.0 27 2
Criteria ≤ 25 ≤ 25 <900 ≤ 1% < <900 ≤ 3 ≤ 3 < 25

Table 10: Criteria combined warning tags

3.5      Role of digital technologies

Although students generally do not appear to enjoy reading digital books, one form of digital integration that has had success is the combination of print and digital in one of the books read communally in the club in 2015/6: “Adventures of a Kid Magician” (Flom, Flom-Hill, & Blom, 2015). Careful reading of each chapter unlocked the key to access a video showing a magic trick. Both the students and teacher in charge thought this to be an ideal integration and expressed a wish for more books of this nature. Interactive eBooks show promise in motivating students in leisure reading (Colombo & Landoni, 2014).

Photo 1: BWB member book recommendations

screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-2-35-21-pm

Photo 2: October break reading Challenge

screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-2-34-53-pm

From September 2016 the club had its own page on the new OLP, and boys were encouraged to add book reviews. Between 9 September and 6 October, boys contributed ten reviews on the platform. Within two days of a 14 item vacation reading challenge being announced, (with a prize of an exclusive viewing and borrowing of all new books received after the autumn break) 11 students had attempted one or more of the items and two students had completed the whole challenge.

4. Recommendations

4.1      Reading Progress

Reading progress or growth is a function of initial reading status, velocity and acceleration (Williamson, Fitzgerald, & Stenner, 2014). Each of these can be influenced through deliberate policy and practice. Initial status by early-intervention reading programs, velocity by increased deliberate practice and velocity by ensuring all year reading exposure, i.e. including vacation time, and systematically anticipating and compensating for moments of decreased social motivation, self-concept and work-avoidance discussed in section 1 above. This would require buy-in and effort from the whole school learning ecology including leadership, teachers, students, and parents. Feedback from parents appeared to indicate lack of awareness of the respective roles of home and school, so further parent education seems to be in order.

4.2      Attitude and Motivation

Consideration should be given to annually administering a validated test that signals recreational and academic reading motivation incorporating self-determination theory to students from Grade 3. In this way students at risk of aliteracy can be identified. Activities that position reading as a fun, collaborative social activity outside the classroom should be encouraged. Ways to enhance the appeal of summer/vacation reading need to be investigated.

4.3      Reading Volume

A library / classroom based alert system needs to be set up to identify students who need more assistance with finding the right book. Further work can be done on comparing student reading levels with library / class library collection data as a tool for collection development to ensure provision of interesting, relevant materials in student’s proximal reading zone (Williamson, 2015). Successful reading should increase reading motivation, volume and progress further (Stenner, Burdick, Sanford, & Burdick, 2007).

4.4      Data Analytics

Data in the form of MAP tests and RA needs to be compared and correlated in order to identify trends on a school-wide scale, but also to drill down to specific classes, grades and individuals to find any inconsistencies and comparative bias between teachers or grades or benchmarks used, such as were identified in this study. Teachers need better training in the tools, and follow up on missing data or discrepancies should be made in a timely manner. Students identified as being at risk based on a combination of markers including reading motivation and self-concept, volume of reading and reading growth need to be closely monitored with action taken to increase the velocity of reading gains or avoid deceleration on time.

It is suggested that a system be put in place, with thresholds for each criteria as suggested in the analysis above. Students can then be given a score for number of “warning tags” and follow up arranged accordingly.

Finally, although the school is above NWEA norms, at each grade level, caution should be exercised as to what benchmark is used given the socio-economic and education level of the school community – for example, Williamson (2015) suggests a Lexile of L925 would be appropriate for beginning G5 students but at present only 28 out of 62 non-ELL students meet a benchmark of L900 – although some of the non-ELL students may have been ELL at some point in the previous years, and therefor had a lower initial status.

4.5      Digital

Instead of waiting for authors or other providers to create print and digitally integrated books, our students could be encouraged to supplement their favourite books with digital content on the OLP. This would transform students from being digital consumers, to digital creators – one of the learning goals of the 21st Century learner (Ito et al., 2013; Kalantzis & Cope, 2015; Rickard, 2014). Students with reading skills or learning difficulties should be encouraged to explore read-along and audio books to reap the benefits of audio such as improving comprehension, fluency, reading accuracy and motivation (Audio Publishers Association, 2016).

5.   Conclusion

For most participants, this specific social intervention made a difference in boy’s reading motivation through enhancing their sense of social belonging and “masculinizing” reading activities. For most of those in the club since September 2015, reading skills improved at a rate higher than predicted by Lexile growth rate models, and higher than their peers, probably due to higher quantity and quality of reading.

One of the issues with this intervention is its scalability and reliance on key-personnel. At the moment the club has grown to its limits of 30 students, an additional staff member is helping during the meetings, and there is a waiting list of students. Although it has helped a group of students, more integrated school-wide, permanent solutions will need to be sought that benefit all students that involve the predictive ability of combining various indicators of reading motivation, self-concept and skill with reading for pleasure as a social activity and allowing timely rehabilitation where necessary. The predictive ability of combining reading assessments, MAP testing, motivation and self-efficacy surveys to identify at risk students needs to be investigated further on larger populations.

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Mullis, I. V. S., Martin, M. O., Foy, P., Drucker, K. T., International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, & Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Eds.). (2012). PIRLS 2011 international results in reading. Chestnut Hill, MA: IEA, TIMSS & PIRLS, International Study Center, Lynch School of Education, Boston College.

National Literacy Trust. (2012). Boys’ reading commission. National Literacy Trust. Retrieved from https://www.literacytrust.org.uk/assets/0001/4056/Boys_Commission_Report.pdf

NEPS. (2012). Effective interventions for struggling readers. National Educational Psychological Service. Retrieved from http://www.education.ie/en/Education-Staff/Information/NEPS-Literacy-Resource/neps_literacy_good_practice_guide.pdf

Norton, E. S., & Wolf, M. (2012). Rapid automatized naming (RAN) and reading fluency: Implications for understanding and treatment of reading disabilities. Annual Review of Psychology, 63(1), 427–452. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-120710-100431

NWEA. (2016). Accelerate Measure student progress with MAP for K – 12. Retrieved 12 September 2016, from https://www.nwea.org/assessments/map/

OECD. (2014). Reading performance (PISA). OECD Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/reading-performance-pisa/indicator/english_79913c69-en

Osterman, K. F. (2000). Students’ need for belonging in the school community. Review of Educational Research, 70(3), 323–367. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543070003323

Proctor, C. P., Daley, S., Louick, R., Leider, C. M., & Gardner, G. L. (2014). How motivation and engagement predict reading comprehension among native English-speaking and English-learning middle school students with disabilities in a remedial reading curriculum. Learning and Individual Differences, 36, 76–83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2014.10.014

Retelsdorf, J., Köller, O., & Möller, J. (2014). Reading achievement and reading self-concept – Testing the reciprocal effects model. Learning and Instruction, 29, 21–30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2013.07.004

Retelsdorf, J., Schwartz, K., & Asbrock, F. (2015). ‘Michael can’t read!’ Teachers’ gender stereotypes and boys’ reading self-concept. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(1), 186–194. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0037107

Rickard, R. L. (2014). Wimps, dorks, and reluctant readers: Redefining literacy in multimodal middle grade diary books (Master Dissertation). Eastern Michigan University, Michigan. Retrieved from http://commons.emich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1943&context=theses

Scanlon, D. M., Gelzheiser, L. M., Vellutino, F. R., Schatschneider, C., & Sweeney, J. M. (2008). Reducing the incidence of early reading difficulties: Professional Development for classroom teachers versus direct interventions for children. Learning and Individual Differences, 18(3), 346–359. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2008.05.002

Schaffner, E., Schiefele, U., & Ulferts, H. (2013). Reading amount as a mediator of the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic reading motivation on reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 48(4), 369–385. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.52

Shapiro, J., & Whitney, P. (1997). Factors involved in the leisure reading of upper elementary school students. Reading Psychology, 18(4), 343–370. https://doi.org/10.1080/0270271970180402

Silinskas, G., Pakarinen, E., Niemi, P., Lerkkanen, M.-K., Poikkeus, A.-M., & Nurmi, J.-E. (2016). The effectiveness of increased support in reading and its relationship to teachers’ affect and children’s motivation. Learning and Individual Differences, 45, 53–64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2015.11.025

Smith, J. K., Smith, L. F., Gilmore, A., & Jameson, M. (2012). Students’ self-perception of reading ability, enjoyment of reading and reading achievement. Learning and Individual Differences, 22(2), 202–206. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2011.04.010

Stenner, A. J., Burdick, H., Sanford, E. E., & Burdick, D. S. (2007). The Lexile Framework® for reading technical report (Technical Report). Durham, NC: Metametrics. Retrieved from https://lexile-website-media-2011091601.s3.amazonaws.com/resources/materials/Stenner_Burdick_Sanford__Burdick-_The_LFR_Technical_Report.pdf

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Upston, G. (2016, October 7). Social dynamics and the ‘Blokes with Books’ club.

Williamson, G. L. (2015). Novel interpretations of academic growth. Retrieved from http://lexile-website-media-2011091601.s3.amazonaws.com/resources/materials/Novel_Interpretations_of_Academic_Growth.pdf

Williamson, G. L., Fitzgerald, J., & Stenner, A. J. (2014). Student reading growth illuminates the common core text-complexity standard. Elementary School Journal, 115(2), 230–254. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=99417740&site=ehost-live

Zentall, S. S., & Lee, J. (2012). A reading motivation intervention with differential outcomes for students at risk for reading disabilities, ADHD, and typical comparisons: ‘Clever is and clever does’. Learning Disability Quarterly, 35(4), 248–259. https://doi.org/10.1177/0731948712438556

APPENDICIES

Not included in order to protect privacy of school and students

 

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In finding the middle way

Robinson, W. Heath (William Heath), 1872-1944 (illustrator). Black and white illustration in Hans Andersen's fairy tales (1913) London: Constable. - in public domain

Robinson, W. Heath (William Heath), 1872-1944 (illustrator). Black and white illustration in Hans Andersen’s fairy tales (1913) London: Constable. – in public domain

I recently read a beautifully illustrated version of “The Emperor’s new Clothes” with my Grade 2 classes during their library period. I can’t but help feeling like that little boy all the time, first astonished and puzzled whether I’m the only one to notice that there are no clothes, then worried that my vision is inadequate to see, and then when I shout out “the emperor has no clothes” my cry is not caught up and echoed, but rather people turn or face down in embarrassment as if it were I caught naked in a public place. And so I began this course with a niggling sense of frustration in being an education professional and learner in a digital environment.

In my life-long learner / doing a distance education degree I’m frustrated by how ‘same old same old’ it is – what is given on the one hand – the convenience, the asynchronicity, the ‘flat world’, the connectivity, the access, is taken away on the other – the lack of intimacy, the limited discussions, the moving along at a clip, the lack of storming and norming and emphasis on performing (Carabajal, LaPointe, & Gunawardena, 2003). But I realize that it is the same as what Churchill said about democracy in 1947 “it is the worst form … except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”

I have to stay positive, must stay open to ideas and alternatives. I have to look to people who are chipping away and making a difference, like our colloquia guests – Pip Cleaves, Annabel Astbury, Simon Welsh and Rebecca Vivian. I must remember that Rome was not built in a day, that this life is lived in beta. And things that annoyed me in this course (like the late introduction of VoiceThread) are in fact things that I am now trying to introduce to my school, in this case during the Global Read-Aloud, and I’m being met with the same skepticism that I gave myself – the irony.

The case study has allowed me to become more knowledgeable and versed in a topic that I had a superficial understanding of. And again that frustration, that when initiating the topic – I did not know what I did not know – the anosognosic’s dilemma (Morris, 2010). As a result I perhaps did not ask the “right” questions, use the “right” survey, the “right” analysis. In the process I increased my knowledge, but the purpose was not to summarize what I now know, which is the beginning point of any expert in the field. It was to further knowledge by examining something through the case study method. I think I am now understanding how reading reluctance can be seen through a variety of lenses. I’m understanding the profound effect of unconditional fun on enjoyment, motivation and the desire to improve – and my wariness of data-analysis has been vindicated to a certain quantifiable extent.

My wish for myself for the future is that I can both relax and be vigilant. Accept imperfection as I strive to be the best version of myself as an educator and to bring that out in my students, but in a joyful fun way. The middle way.

Image from: http://lisacongdon.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/brave_quote45_lowres1.jpg

Image from: http://lisacongdon.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/brave_quote45_lowres1.jpg

 

References

Carabajal, K., LaPointe, D., & Gunawardena, C. (2003). Group development in online learning communities. In M. G. Moore & W. G. Anderson (Eds.), Handbook of distance education (pp. 217–234). Mahwah, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates.

Morris, E. (2010, June 20). The anosognosic’s dilemma: Something’s wrong but you’ll never know what it is (Part 1). Retrieved 4 February 2014, from http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/the-anosognosics-dilemma-1/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1

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INF536: Critical Assessment

Looking back on this last semester, I can only sum it up by saying that change, beauty and progress in thought and learning is not only wrought by avalanche and volcano but also by the constant erosion by drops of water and bits of sand.  That combined with space and time.

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In the same way, this course has offered me space and time for learning by:

  • Forcing me to carve time out of a schedule that would otherwise be occupied by busyness
  • Exposing me to a variety of ideas, research, thoughts and concepts that I wouldn’t otherwise naturally encounter in my day-to-day professional or personal life
  • Making me DO things I’d otherwise shrug off as impossible (Bailey, 2015b)
  • Giving me a framework within which to analyse problems “wicked” and otherwise (Bailey, 2015a, 2015g; Buchanan, 1992; IDEO, 2014)
  • Grouping me with a set of people who are all approaching the course from a different context and set of experiences and knowledge
  • Creating a virtual (and at times physical) space for us to encounter each other and comment and share our learning – both formally and informally (“#INF536 – Twitter Search,” n.d.; McIntosh & CSU, n.d.)

 

It has be quite an experience, and, as someone once said – it’s not so much what you’ve learnt as what you remember. What has left a lasting impression is design thinking, the value of constraints and learning at the extremes.

 

As someone new to the education field, new to librarianship, operating under all kinds of constraints, the design thinking concepts of inspiration, ideation and implementation (Brown, 2008; Brown & Katz, 2011; IDEO, 2014) fits perfectly with that other concept of living and teaching in constant beta (Schroeder, 2013). As a fairly grounded, not terribly artistically (of the drawing and painting type) creative person this is the aspect of “design” that appeals to me as it is achievable with observation, thought, logic and research. However it also demands that I embody the principle of risk-taking and not just pay lip service to it sprouting it to my PYP (IB primary year program) students at regular intervals. There is something very empowering in the process of observing, thinking, asking, making small or not so small changes, and failing or succeeding, learning and trying again without fear and knowing that every time again one is moving every so slightly forward and nudging one’s students in the same direction.

 

My most effective intervention resulting from a budgetary constraint

My most effective intervention resulting from a budgetary constraint

 

Constraints, rather than hampering us, force rethinking options, relooking at alternatives and collaborating, asking, connecting in a way that is not always necessary when one is overwhelmed by choice and abundance. As documented in my blog posts: design – space, thinking and time 1, 2, 3 & 4 (Bailey, 2015c, 2015d, 2015e, 2015f) operating within the constraints of limited time, no budget, a small and almost unalterable space can result in creative solutions that are as ad hoc as they are successful.

 

 

 

We can learn a lot about education and learning in extreme conditions (Chohan, 2011; Leadbeater & Wong, 2010). But more immediate and accessible are the extremes in our own communities the students at the challenging edges of all the continuums we create. The teachers and parents who don’t toe some invisible line.

 

 

The name of my series of blog posts also reflects my thoughts about designing learning spaces. It’s not just about the physical space, it’s about reconstructing how we think about time and what we do in it, and carving out a presence physically, virtually and even emotionally. No matter how beautifully our surroundings have been designed, how much money has been spent on the furnishings and fittings, how much time is built into the curriculum if our students do not feel safe and have a willing and open space in their hearts and minds for learning, nothing will make an impact.

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References:

Bailey, N. (2015a, July 23). On the box, off the box – INF536 Blog Post 1 [Web Log]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/07/23/on-the-box-off-the-box/

Bailey, N. (2015b, August 7). Blog 2: Observation – Dog Walk [Web Log]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/08/07/blog-2-observation-dog-walk/

Bailey, N. (2015c, August 23). Design – space, thinking and time (1) [Web Log]. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/08/23/design-space-thinking-and-time-1/

Bailey, N. (2015d, September 6). Design – space thinking and time (2) [Web Log]. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/09/06/design-space-thinking-and-time-2/

Bailey, N. (2015e, September 20). Design – space, thinking and time (3) [Web Log]. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/09/20/design-space-thinking-and-time-3/

Bailey, N. (2015f, October 4). Design – space, thinking and time (4) [Web Log]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/10/04/design-space-thinking-and-time-4/

Bailey, N. (2015g, October 11). INF536: Assessment 4 – Part A: Applying spatial changes and design thinking to middle school reading – a three phase collaborative approach [Web Log]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/10/11/inf536-assessment-4-part-a-applying-spatial-changes-and-design-thinking-to-middle-school-reading-a-three-phase-collaborative-approach/

Brown, T. (2008). Design thinking. Harvard Business Review, 86(6), 84–92. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=heh&AN=32108052&site=ehost-live

Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by Design: Change by Design. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381–383. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00806.x

Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked problems in design thinking. Design Issues, 8(2), 5–21. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1511637

Chohan, A. (2011, January 25). Learning without frontiers [Video file]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EARTcJkNrDA

IDEO. (2014). Design thinking for libraries – a toolkit for patron-centered design (p. 121). IDEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Retrieved from www.designthinkingforlibraries.com

#INF536 – Twitter Search. (n.d.). [Twitter]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from https://twitter.com/search?q=%23INF536&src=typd

Leadbeater, C., & Wong, A. (2010). Learning from the extremes. CISCO. Retrieved September 2, 2015 from https://www.cisco.com/web/about/citizenship/socio-economic/docs/LearningfromExtremes_WhitePaper.pdf

McIntosh, E., & CSU. (n.d.). Discussion Board – S-INF536_201560_W_D @CSU [Discussion Forum]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/conference?toggle_mode=read&action=list_forums&course_id=_6652_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&mode=view

Schroeder, M. (2013, November 6). Living in beta [Video file]. Retrieved October 6, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nnYI3ePrY8

 

 

 

 

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INF536: Assessment 4 – Part A: Applying spatial changes and design thinking to middle school reading– a three phase collaborative approach

Introduction

There is a long history of research into the value of and elements contributing to the success of classroom libraries. They have an important role in ensuring accessibility of written works to promote fluency and skill in literacy and thereby contributing to academic achievement. But the literature appears to concentrate on elementary schools (Hopenwasser & Noel, 2014; James, 1923; Jones, 2006; Krarup, 1955; Powell, 1966; Sanacore & Palumbo, 2010; Todd, Gordon, & Lu, 2011; Worthy, 1996). Although partnership and collaboration with the school and/or public library and librarian is recommended, the literature often deals with the two spaces in isolation. Further, the problem of aliteracy in middle school – whereby students can read but don’t want to – is well documented (Kelley & Decker, 2009; Krashen, 2004; Lesesne, 1991; Sheldon & Davis, 2015; Worthy, 1996). This case report will show how the two environments library and classroom, can successfully be seen as extensions of each other through the principles of design and design thinking and explicit cooperation between the language humanities (Eng/Hum) teachers, literacy coach and school librarian in order to promote voluntary reading.

Case development

United World College South East Asia East (UWCSEA-East) is a K-12 international school located in Singapore. It commenced operations in 2008 and took occupancy of a purpose built campus in 2011. In this campus, the secondary school library initially served around 500 middle school students – see table 1. It now caters to three distinct communities, middle school, high school and the International Baccalaureate (IB) – see Table 2.

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Despite consultation with the librarian in the planning phase, certain spaces of the library were designated different functions than agreed upon and furnished accordingly by the architect and building manager. One such area was upstairs overlooking the main school plaza with purpose built magazine racks. The idea was it would be a well-frequented showcase area for magazine reading. In reality a number of factors prevented this from being realised:

  • The furniture design didn’t accommodate its purpose as it was not deep or high enough and the storage area didn’t fit back copies
  • The zoning of the library post occupancy meant that materials affording quick casual reading such as graphic novels and periodicals were better located in the “noisier” and fast turnover area which allowed food and beverages, i.e. downstairs.
  • The trend in libraries is to move away from physical magazines and periodicals towards online providers including online databases and aggregators such as PressReader that provide the same product at a lower cost and without delays and issues with cataloguing and maintenance.

 

The question of what to do with the space was resolved by noticing that as the secondary school reached post occupancy capacity the lowest students in the pecking order i.e. middle school students were increasingly marginalised with students of higher sections taking over the prime library real estate (students are visually distinct due to different coloured polo shirts for their uniforms). In addition, middle school students no longer had library visits planned into their schedule. Furthermore, the large influx of new students and teachers meant that reading books in the classrooms were unevenly distributed both in terms of volume and quality without any structured form of classroom library, which the students had become accustomed to in the primary section. Finally, Eng/Hum teachers were noticing a decline in voluntary reading as students moved up through middle school.

 

These issues were addressed initially through collaboration between the librarian and Eng/Hum teachers and more recently by the new literacy coach over a period of three years as follows:

  • The conversion of the magazine area into a middle school reading zone
  • The establishing of a core library for each of the three middle school grades (Day, 2013b)
  • The creation of middle school classroom libraries in a formal and structured manner with materials integrated into the library catalogue (Day, 2015d)
  • The integration of informational / nonfiction texts into both areas

This is an on-going process and worth a critical analysis to examine the choice process, latent or existing attitudes and assumptions, exterior pressures and design constraints and collaboration and communication.

Critical analysis

Choice of process

The spatial change in the library was conceived and led by the teacher-librarian (TL) with the Eng/Hum teachers joining in the collaboration as the process evolved. Since the TL has experience in design thinking (Day, 2013a, 2015a, 2015c) the process followed the design thinking cycle of inspiration, ideation, iteration and getting to scale (Brown, 2008; IDEO, 2014).

 

This was achieved by:

  • Agreeing on a “core library” of 30 titles per grade for grades 6-8 which were prominently displayed
  • Adjusting shelving to accommodate front facing books
  • Relocating books of interest to this age group from the fiction collection
  • Using large posters to highlight the favourite books of middle school teachers in the library and class corridors and classroom walls
  • Ensuring multiple copies of books, by using class and literary circle sets
  • Adequate lighting, comfortable furniture and the creation of a private space

 

The above steps and final spatial design incorporated the elements that are recommended as enhancing school library spaces (Cha & Kim, 2015; Elliott-Burns, 2003; La Marca, 2008; A. McDonald, 2006; Serafini, 2011).

 

The design elements that contribute to successful classroom libraries are not dissimilar and include:

  • Sufficient space which is a focal area but partitioned and private
  • Comfortable furniture
  • Variety of material in range of complexity including different literary genres and informational texts
  • Category organisation and shelf labelling
  • Combination shelving allowing for quantity of books and display (front facing)
  • Advertising by means of posters and notices on whiteboards
  • Graphic organisation either thematic or by connections
  • Involvement of students in selection, organisation and maintenance (Fractor, Woodruff, Martinez, & Teale, 1993; Hopenwasser & Noel, 2014; Reutzel & Fawson, 2002, cited in Sanacore & Palumbo, 2010)

Discussion and research on the elements predominantly come from the elementary school environment, and the adoption to middle school requires some adjustments to account for the fact that students do not remain in one classroom, lessening the sense of ownership of a space on the part of students, and teachers needing to cater to multiple classes with different profiles and interests. Learning spaces are also typically smaller relative to the size of the students.

 

The creation of the library and classroom reading spaces and populating them with books is “necessary but not sufficient” (McGill-franzen, Allington, Yokoi, & Brooks, 1999). Other components of encouraging reading include training teachers to enhance their instructional routines to incorporate the material, and to ensure that teachers are familiar not only with their literary canon, but also the latest in good young adult fiction (Day, 2015b; McGill-franzen et al., 1999). The school has invested in training with Penny Kittle to assist in the instructional routines (Raisdana, 2015), while the librarian is working with the teachers on the latter.

Latent or existing attitudes and assumptions

An international school is blessed with diversity in cultures, languages and backgrounds both of their students and teachers. This results in a context of people coming from different systems with different attitudes, assumptions, beliefs and experiences around education, reading and libraries. In just the middle school, teachers come from Australia, United States, Philippines, Ireland, Canada and the United Kingdom, each with their own literary core. In addition, there are personal preferences and beliefs, for example around young adult literature (see Raisdana, 2014). Teachers may not be used to or have experience of collaboration with the TL, the benefits thereof, nor aware of the ways in which libraries have evolved (Gibbs, 2003; Montiel-Overall, 2006, 2008; Sullivan-Macdonald, 2015). And naturally there are assumptions around what constitutes an ideal learning or reading space and the balance between the two (Elliott-Burns, 2005). In a meta-review of access to print and educational outcomes, Lindsay (2010) concluded that limiting choices with a larger distribution interval led to more reading, particularly if it was accompanied by activities such as training and book talks. This is in contrast to the assumption that collections should be as large as possible. It also suggests that rotation of materials leads to better outcomes.

Exterior pressures and design constraints

The creation of the complementary spaces faced a number of constraints, design and otherwise. These included a small budget, limited time and variability in the reading level of students. In design thinking the presence of constraints is seen as a positive force that encourages creative solutions and exploring options that would not otherwise be considered, and this proved to be true in this case study (Brown & Katz, 2011; Hill, 1998; Ness, 2011).

 

Naturally budget was an important constraint that shaped the way in which the space was converted and books and furniture was acquired or moved and repurposed. As discussed earlier, the librarian was involved in the “fuzzy front end” (Sanders & Stappers, 2008, p. 6), of the secondary library design and once the space was completed it was not possible to change the space, only to adapt its purpose. In the classrooms the availability of furniture in the room to hold the books and the available space for the classroom library vis-à-vis other learning spaces determined how many books could effectively by stored and displayed. In this respect creative design thinking was deployed, for example by taking the doors off built-in cupboard space both in the classrooms and in the library, creating additional shelving. Comfortable furniture was either acquired by donations from the community or purchased to ensure equity between the classrooms.

 

Although the library and classes each have a budget for the acquisition of books, both wanted to ensure that existing resources were not wasted – for example the books already owned in multiple copies. However their repurposing had to be examined within the constraints of the reading level of the students and the curriculum themes for each grade.

Collaboration and communication

Collaboration and communication between the TL and teachers has received a lot of attention as has the ways in which spatial design and design thinking can enhance collaboration (Avallon & Schneider, 2013; Ferer, 2012; Gibbs, 2003; Knapp, 2014; Montiel-Overall, 2006; Williamson, Archibald, & McGregor, 2010). Enhancing collaboration between the TL and the Eng/Hum department has occurred on a number of fronts, both physical and virtual – such as book chat mornings to book talk new books, encouraging teachers and students to be involved with the selection of books for the Red Dot Awards (ISLN, 2015), processing and cataloguing the books, and the creation of a virtual space for the books (Day, 2015b).

 

Given time constraints and curriculum pressures, additional moments for collaboration and communication have had to be designed into the process. For example teachers can book the reading zone space to conduct lessons, and invite the TL to book talk new or noteworthy books. In addition the library receives supervision assistance from teachers during lunch, recess times and after school. The Eng/Hum teachers have first priority in requesting this duty, creating the opportunity for the important “casual conversations” that result in informal learning and information exchange (Oblinger, 2006; Somerville & Brown-Sica, 2011).

Conclusion

The process can neither be criticized for its efficacy nor results. Teachers, students and the librarian have largely viewed the change positively. Due to making small iterative changes to the spaces, starting with a small budget and a limited number of books in the first year, and subsequently adapting the choice of books, the selection and weeding process based on experience and feedback, the combined library / class library spaces appear to have grown organically despite a lot of “behind the scenes” work on book processing, cataloguing and making books classroom / shelf ready.

There are five main recommendations arising from the analysis of this case study, all which can be tackled through employing design thinking rather than further changes to the current spatial design:

  • Balance the contradictory forces of novelty and familiarity through how books are selected, displayed and rotated
  • Focus efforts on the most efficacious element of encouraging reading – book talks
  • Expand the space to include the home environment, particularly in the case of bilingual students
  • Increase involvement of students in the spatial design and change process
  • Quantify the benefits of this spatial / design thinking collaboration through evidence based research.

These will be elaborated in the next section.

Recommendations

Balance novelty and familiarity

Students like and respond to novelty in display and a constant supply of “new” titles, they would also possibly benefit from choice limitation (Iyengar, 2011). This can be achieved by a rotation of titles between spine and front facing, and through a rotation between the books in the various classes (Lindsay, 2010). At present the core and class libraries are refreshed annually and the class libraries are not rotated between classes or teachers. It is recommended this be considered to prevent staleness. The class library placement of books in bins rather than shelves with a mixture of front and spine facing, allowing changes is display is not best practise, nor is having all books available simultaneously (Fractor et al., 1993; Lindsay, 2010; Sanacore, 2000; Sanacore & Palumbo, 2010).

Book talks

The importance of teachers’, librarians’, students’ and the community’s increasing exposure of diverse books in all genres by book talking can’t be overstated (Bentheim, 2013; Gallo, 2001; L. McDonald, 2013; Serafini, 2011). But, as examined in the analysis, a number of barriers stand in the way of regular book talks. In addition, requiring reading related tasks from students runs the risk of resulting in unfavourable associations with reading and further reluctance (Eriksson, 2002; Gallo, 2001; Miller, 2009).

 

Many practioners have described how digital innovation and the creation of virtual spaces can enhance and augment traditional book talks as well as expand transliteracy skills of students (Dreon, Kerper, & Landis, 2011; Gogan & Marcus, 2013; Gunter & Kenny, 2008; Ragan, 2012). It is recommended that students be given ownership of exploring the potentials of the digital realm in this respect as a guided design thinking exercise.

Mother tongue material and the home environment

Access to mother tongue materials continues to be a weakness in the library and even more so in the classroom library. There are logistical and financial constraints including the wide spread of languages, the undervaluation of low status languages, and misinformation and misunderstanding on the value of reading in the mother tongue amongst students and parents (Bailey, 2014a, 2014b, 2015; Boelens, Cherek, Tilke, & Bailey, 2015). This is an area that would benefit greatly from increased collaboration between the college and parent body where previously “unknowable” resources could be tapped into through utilizing the analytical and process skills of design thinking (IDEO, 2014; Landis, Umolu, & Mancha, 2010; McIntosh, 2015).

Student involvement

While literature indicates collaboration by all stakeholders is essential for acceptance, particularly in learning environments (Hamilton, 2013; Jones, 2006; Sanders & Stappers, 2008), this has largely been a librarian / teacher initiative with some student involvement in book selection. Moving forward, the virtual or digital sphere is an area where students can also be encouraged to carve out a presence and take ownership with teachers taking on an enabler role as use of all seven learning spaces are maximised (Grisham & Wolsey, 2006; McIntosh, 2010; Thornburg, 2007; Wilson & Randall, 2012).

Quantify the benefits

Despite numerous hurdles in providing data and making analysis founded on circulation figures or student attainment records, there is considerable value in documenting and providing evidence for practises – not the least that it supports budget requests.

 

Circulation records do not provide a complete record or necessarily correlate with reading because:

  • Books may be read in library / class without being checked out
  • In affluent multi-cultural communities, students may have access to large personal libraries, including books in their mother tongue
  • Students may be borrowing books from the public library

Despite this, circulation is still the best proxy for reading. The decentralised nature of the class libraries results in less control over book checkout. Even in the library, that has no exit barriers, at the end of 2014/5 academic year roughly 20% of returned books had not been checked out of the system. While this can be lauded as an indication of the high moral and ethical standards of the students, it does pose difficulties in creating any evidence based data on the actual impact of either separating part of the library or decentralising the collection to class libraries in terms of increases in circulation.

 

It is recommended that both current and longitudinal research be carried out to see if there is any correlation between increased access to text, the amount of reading / circulation and other objective measures of attainment such as the annual PISA or TIMS tests. This will take the initiative beyond transformative individual anecdotal stories to evidence based research. The CLEP (Classroom Literacy Environmental Profile) (McGill-franzen et al., 1999; Wolfersberger, Reutzel, Sudweeks, & Fawson, 2004) and more recently the TEX-IN3 (Hoffman, Sailors, Duffy, & Beretvas, 2004) tools have successfully been used in the evaluation of elementary school class libraries and could be adapted for the middle school environment.

 

The recent inclusion of informational (nonfiction) texts in both the middle school zone and the classroom libraries is also one worth further investigation. Whether the expansion of the collections has impacted on the space, the ability to choose, and the completion of summative assessments in the individual subjects can be investigated in the light of the existing literature on the matter (Hopenwasser & Noel, 2014; Ness, 2011; Sanacore & Palumbo, 2010; Young & Moss, 2006; Young, Moss, & Cornwell, 2007).

References

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Bailey, N. (2014a, November 12). Building a LOTE collection at an international school [Web Log]. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from http://informativeflights.blogspot.sg/2014/11/building-lote-collection-at.html

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Day, K. (2013b, November). Liberate your book cupboards and create a more true “bookstore” model in your school library [Web Log]. Retrieved August 2, 2015, from http://www.thelibrarianedge.com/libedge/2013/11/liberate-your-book-cupboards-and-create.html

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Gallo, D. R. (2001). How classics create an aliterate society. The English Journal, 90(3), 33–39. Retrieved from http://moormangb.ced.appstate.edu/5730_f11_h/unit1/Gallo.pdf

Gibbs, R. (2003). Reframing the role of the teacher-librarian : the case for collaboration and flexibility. Scan, 22(3), 4–7. Retrieved from http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/fullText;dn=129538;res=AEIPT

Gogan, B., & Marcus, A. (2013). Lost in transliteracy – how to expand student learning across a variety of platforms. Knowledge Quest, 41(5), 40–45.

Grisham, D. L., & Wolsey, T. D. (2006). Recentering the middle school classroom as a vibrant learning community: Students, literacy, and technology intersect. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 49(8), 648–660. http://doi.org/10.1598/JAAL.49.8.2

Gunter, G. A., & Kenny, R. F. (2008). Digital booktalk: Digital media for reluctant readers. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 8(1), 84–99.

Hamilton, B. (2013, November 14). A visit to the Lovett School story studio: Redesigning learning spaces, rewriting narratives of learning [Web Log]. Retrieved August 8, 2015, from https://theunquietlibrarian.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/a-visit-to-the-lovett-school-story-studio-redesigning-learning-spaces-rewriting-narratives-of-learning/

Hill, A. M. (1998). Problem solving in real-life contexts: An alternative for design in technology education. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 8, 203–220.

Hoffman, J., Sailors, M., Duffy, G., & Beretvas, S. N. (2004). The effective elementary classroom literacy environment: Examining the validity of the TEX-IN3 observation system. Journal of Literacy Research, 36(3), 303–334. http://doi.org/10.1207/s15548430jlr3603_3

Hopenwasser, C. B., & Noel, A. M. (2014). Tackling text complexity with your classroom library. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 50(2), 81–84. http://doi.org/10.1080/00228958.2014.900851

IDEO. (2014). Design thinking for libraries – a toolkit for patron-centered design (p. 121). IDEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Retrieved from www.designthinkingforlibraries.com

ISLN. (2015). Red Dot Book Awards 2015-2016 [Google Site]. Retrieved October 8, 2015, from https://sites.google.com/site/reddotbookawards20152016/

Iyengar, S. (2011, November). How to make choosing easier [Video file]. Retrieved October 8, 2015, from https://www.ted.com/talks/sheena_iyengar_choosing_what_to_choose

James, M. E. (1923). Use of classroom libraries to stimulate interest and speed in reading. The Elementary School Journal, 23(8), 601–608. http://doi.org/10.2307/994550

Jones, J. A. (2006). Student-involved classroom libraries. The Reading Teacher, 59(6), 576–580. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/203284680?accountid=10344

Kelley, M. J., & Decker, E. O. (2009). The Current State of Motivation to Read Among Middle School Students. Reading Psychology, 30(5), 466–485. http://doi.org/10.1080/02702710902733535

Knapp, J. (2014, May 1). Google Ventures: your design team needs a war room. Here’s how to set one up. Retrieved August 8, 2015, from http://www.fastcodesign.com/3028471/google-ventures-your-design-team-needs-a-war-room-heres-how-to-set-one-up

Krarup, A. (1955). Classroom libraries are not enough. The Reading Teacher, 8(4), 215–219. http://doi.org/10.2307/20196863

Krashen, S. D. (2004). The power of reading: insights from the research. Westport, Conn.; Portsmouth, N.H.: Libraries Unlimited ; Heinemann.

La Marca, S. (2008). Reading spaces (pp. 1–12). Presented at the 38th Annual Conference of the International Association of School Librarianship, Padua, Italy: International Association of School Librarianship. Retrieved from http://www.kzneducation.gov.za/Portals/0/ELITS%20website%20Homepage/IASL%202008/professional%20papers/lamarcaspacespp.pdf

Landis, D., Umolu, J., & Mancha, S. (2010). The power of language experience for cross-cultural reading and writing. The Reading Teacher, 63(7), 580–589. http://doi.org/10.1598/RT.63.7.5

Lesesne, T. S. (1991). Developing lifetime readers: Suggestions from fifty years of research. English Journal, 80(6), 61. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/237285282?accountid=10344

Lindsay, J. (2010). Children’s access to print material and education-related outcomes: Findings from a meta-analytic review. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates. Retrieved from http://rif.org/documents/us/RIFandLearningPointMeta-FullReport.pdf

McDonald, A. (2006). The ten commandments revisited: the qualities of good library space. LIBER Quarterly, 16(2). Retrieved from http://liber.library.uu.nl/index.php/lq/article/view/7840/8010

McDonald, L. (2013). Literature for children and young adolescents. In A literature companion for teachers (pp. 1–7). Newtown, Australia: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).

McGill-franzen, A., Allington, R. L., Yokoi, L., & Brooks, G. (1999). Putting books in the classroom seems necessary but not sufficient. The Journal of Educational Research, 93(2), 67–74. http://doi.org/10.1080/00220679909597631

McIntosh, E. (2010). Clicks & Bricks: When digital, learning and physical space meet. Educational Facility Planner, 45(1&2), 33–38. Retrieved from http://media.cefpi.org/efp/EFP45-1and2McIntosh.pdf

McIntosh, E. (2015, July). The unknown unknowns – test out your ideas [Web Log]. Retrieved July 19, 2015, from http://edu.blogs.com/edublogs/2015/07/the-unknown-unknowns-test-out-your-ideas.html

Miller, D. (2009). The book whisperer: awakening the inner reader in every child (1st ed). San Francisco, Calif: Jossey-Bass.

Montiel-Overall, P. (2006). Teacher and teacher-librarian collaboration: moving toward integration. Teacher Librarian, 34(2), 28–33. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/224885770?accountid=10344

Montiel-Overall, P. (2008). Teacher and librarian collaboration: A qualitative study. Library & Information Science Research, 30(2), 145–155. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.lisr.2007.06.008

Ness, M. (2011). Teachers’ Use of and Attitudes Toward Informational Text in K-5 Classrooms. Reading Psychology, 32(1), 28–53. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pbh&AN=57420253&site=ehost-live

Oblinger, D. (2006). Learning spaces. Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE.

Powell, W. R. (1966). Classroom libraries: their frequency of use. Elementary English, 43(4), 395–397. http://doi.org/10.2307/41387579

Ragan, M. (2012). Inspired technology, inspired readers – How book trailers foster a passion for reading. Access, March, 8–13.

Raisdana, J. (2014, March 10). Well-versed In books [Web Log]. Retrieved October 3, 2015, from http://www.jabizraisdana.com/blog/well-versed-in-books/

Raisdana, J. (2015, February 9). Leave with a suggestion [Web Log]. Retrieved October 3, 2015, from http://www.jabizraisdana.com/blog/leave-with-a-suggestion/

Sanacore, J. (2000). Promoting the lifetime reading habit in middle school students. The Clearing House, 73(3), 157–161. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/196889420?accountid=10344

Sanacore, J., & Palumbo, A. (2010). Middle school students need more opportunities to read across the curriculum. The Clearing House, 83(5), 180–185. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/744358835?accountid=10344

Sanders, E. B.-N., & Stappers, P. J. (2008). Co-creation and the new landscapes of design. CoDesign, 4(1), 5–18. http://doi.org/10.1080/15710880701875068

Serafini, F. (2011). Creating space for children’s literature. The Reading Teacher, 65(1), 30–34. http://doi.org/10.1598/RT.65.1.4

Sheldon, S., B., & Davis, M., H. (2015). “I wish everyone had a library like this” (The Baltimore Elementary and Middle School Library Project No. Year 2 Report). Baltimore, USA. Retrieved from http://baltimore-berc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ALibraryLikeThisJune2015.pdf

Somerville, M. M., & Brown-Sica, M. (2011). Library space planning: a participatory action research approach. The Electronic Library, 29(5), 669–681. http://doi.org/10.1108/02640471111177099

Sullivan-Macdonald, D. (2015, October 1). Teach more, librarian less, say SLJ leadership summit panelists [Web Log]. Retrieved October 3, 2015, from http://www.slj.com/2015/10/schools/teach-more-librarian-less-becoming-essential-panel-at-the-slj-leadership-summit/

Thornburg, D. (2007, October). Campfires in cyberspace: Primordial metaphors for learning in the 21st Century. TCPD. Retrieved from http://tcpd.org/Thornburg/Handouts/Campfires.pdf

Todd, R. J., Gordon, C. A., & Lu, Y.-L. (2011). One common goal: Student learning (Report of Findings and Recommendations of the New Jersey School Library Survey Phase 2). New Jersey, USA: New Jersey Association of School Librarians. Retrieved from http://www.njasl.info/wp-content/NJ_study/2011_Phase2Report.pdf

Williamson, K., Archibald, A., & McGregor, J. (2010). Shared vision: A key to successful collaboration? School Libraries Worldwide, 16(2), 16–30. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=55415805&site=ehost-live

Wilson, G., & Randall, M. (2012). The implementation and evaluation of a new learning space: a pilot study. Research in Learning Technology, 20(2), 1–17. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=86214889&site=ehost-live

Wolfersberger, M., Reutzel, D. R., Sudweeks, R., & Fawson, P. (2004). Developing and validating the Classroom Literacy Environmental Profile (CLEP): A tool for examining the “print richness” of early childhood and elementary classrooms. Journal of Literacy Research, 36(2), 211–272. http://doi.org/10.1207/s15548430jlr3602_4

Worthy, J. (1996). Removing barriers to voluntary reading for reluctant readers: The role of school and classroom libraries. Language Arts, 73(7), 483–492. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/196851690?accountid=10344

Young, T. A., & Moss, B. (2006). Nonfiction in the classroom library: A literacy necessity. Childhood Education, 82(4), 207–212. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/210392168?accountid=10344

Young, T. A., Moss, B., & Cornwell, L. (2007). The classroom library: A place for nonfiction, nonfiction in its place. Reading Horizons, 48(1), 1–18. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/236486012?accountid=10344

 

1

Are we there yet? No … and this is why – an appeal to database owners and academic libraries

I’m about to write another assignment.  This must be about my 40th serious assignment of over 1,500 words requiring academic research, looking for good peer-reviewed studies, reading through 1,000’s of pages to try and distill exactly what is being said, whether it is of relevance (directly or tangentially), and once I’m finished that to pause and think and think and think and try to come up with some new insights, some different ways of applying the theory, some critiques that go beyond the obvious.

As I’ve written before, (unfair advantage, / how I used to write) the true work isn’t in the procuring of the articles, it’s in discerning their relevance, it’s in rejection rather than reading.

So why am I, Anno Domino / Common Era  2015 STILL spending so much time on the library database doing silly work. Honestly, those who lead academic libraries and who run academic databases please tell me why this isn’t easier, faster, more streamlined?  Is it me? Am I doing something fundamentally wrong?

Yes I know how far we’ve come and how much easier this is than 10-15-20 years ago. Yes I also studied in the days of micro-fiche where you didn’t even bother finding articles because it just went into the box of “too hard”.  But we do have the tools now and we have progressed further so there should be no excuse as to why the “stupid” work is taking up so much of my time.

Right now I’m looking for good literature on “Classroom Libraries” as opposed to “libraries” in the use of space and resources.  I put in a federated search. At the same time, I search Google Scholar.  I open tabs of dozens of potential articles, reject many, decide to proceed with some.

As you all know by now I’m a huge fan of Evernote.  I put my entire life, but particularly my academic life into Evernote.  And as I stuff it full of articles, I also at the same time put the citations straight into Zotero, (my citation manager of choice – yes I know there are other new ones like RefMe that everyone is raving about, but Zotero has served me well and they’re very responsive to comments and suggestions).  But WHY oh WHY is it still such a pain to get an article in a PDF format, a citation into a RIS format and both tucked up securely into the bedding of choice?

Time for some pictures … follow the captions for what I’m trying to say

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.46.32 am

Primo Search – CSU Libraries

Let the GAMES BEGIN!

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.20.22 am

Google Scholar (with the addition of the CSU library link)

Google Scholar (with the addition of the CSU library link) makes things much easier – I confess I’d rather click on a dubious link than the library link because it will take me straight to the article / pdf. It does make citation a bit more of a pain without the citation tools, but at least I can accept or discard it more quickly. On the other hand – there are way too few limiters for Google Scholar … as a distance learner, I don’t usually want books that I cannot access or where no eBook is available


Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.20.34 amThe open tabs in my browser once I get searching for articles … and that’s on a slow day

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.21.21 am

delivery.ris? out? blah blah, how about downloading me some meaningful names?

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.19.52 am

When I click on an article, if I’m lucky I get something nice and neat and tidy like this

But it’s only after a year or so of using databases that I built up experience in knowing which would get me the article most efficiently and with the least number of clicks and doubts

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.20.03 am

If I’m not so lucky I get this –

Did you see all those tabs open on my browser – I don’t even have any idea what on earth is article was, so I just stab for my favourite database and hope for the best. If it goes wrong and I need to do an advanced search … expletive time

 Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.20.52 am

So I ask you nicely for the pdf. But then it just opens in a new browser window and I STILL have to click “print” and then “print to pdf” and then if I’m lucky it will retain the title or author as file name, and if not it will be “out/pdf” or “23489038” or “gobblydy gook got you there” or even worse “something.html”.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.22.07 am

The extra steps in getting a pdf onto your desktop and then into Evernote, don’t press “SAVE” because then you get an HTML file which is pretty useless!

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.20.59 am

Such a short life, so many choices. And so many of them don’t actually provide what you think’s on offer. Cite? Sounds good – no that just means you copy and paste the citation into your document. Which makes it “dumb” data – You actually need “export” and then you need to click through a couple of times until you get the RIS file in your downloads

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.21.08 am

Riddle me, Riddle me Rhy,
which of these options should I try?

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.21.36 am

Zotero – Yes I do want to import, otherwise I wouldn’t have clicked on the RIS file in the first place – why make a one click step into a 2 click process. (But don’t fret too much you’re not the worst of the redundant click club)

Files waiting for transfer

Files waiting for transfer

Phew … A subselection of files, tabbed and colour-coded waiting to be put into the correct notebook in Evernote.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 12.28.01 pm Just drag and drop and then the real work starts – roughly an hour or so for 10-15 articles and their citations … if you don’t get sidetracked by writing a blog post on the whole process!

NOW … If I ran the circus …

Let’s be completely impractical and totally utopian. See the top photo in the top left column?  I’d add two buttons to each entry:

* One click *.pdf download (with tagging allowed)
* One click *.ris download

because you see, as long as I can get the article, I don’t give a &*^*&^ (insert expletive of choice) which database it comes from. Just give the me the pdf.  With a sensible name like the title. And believe me, I don’t have the time or patiences or hard-drive to keep articles that are of no use for me, so I read the abstract and  delete.

Another circus I’d like to run – those learning modules.  I’ve been around the block a bit, and I’ve seen inside libraries.  A certain academic library that shall not be named in a town that shall not be named has a whole department dedicated to copying articles for coursework for their students who then get a bundle. Hard copies. Trees dying.

At CSU we judiciously just add links to the articles in primo, which the student then has to click on and go through the whole rigamarole highlighted above. Oh for heaven sake, just stop the pretence and put the articles into subject reserve in pdf form.  Who are we kidding that this is meaningful work or adding to knowledge? And then the links that don’t work, and instead of everyone going off and sleuthing how to find the article and thereby actually learning something, there is just a host of complaints on the boards that the article isn’t there.  Finding coursework articles that have been pre-selected by a lecturer does not a good student make. And we’re foolish to pretend it is so.  The success is in the seeking out of related material from other fields and dimensions that may not be thought of, in finding links and relationships, and then seeking those articles and selection and casting aside and applying that to the task at hand or real life that is the mark of the better student.

So now I’ll get back to the boring work.  And just as an aside mention – the databases that do it half ok?  ScienceDirect I always like – clean and easy and good with recommendations on related articles.  Proquest isn’t bad, and I like their little sidebar extras like seeing how many articles in which years / decades so you can see the rise and fall of fads.  EBSCO and JSTOR you’re ugly and clunky and too-many clicky and I avoid you as much as possible.

And here’s an open invitation – if all this is my own  stupid fault because I have nary a clue what I’m doing, please comment and tell me so and let all of us know a better way.

0

Assessment Item 3: Literature Critique

 

The challenges of the school library as an evolving learning space

Word Count: 2,628

 

Bibliographic details:

IDEO. (2014). Design thinking for libraries – a toolkit for patron-centered design (p. 121). IDEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Retrieved from www.designthinkingforlibraries.com

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25–35.

La Marca, S. (2008). Reading spaces (pp. 1–12). Presented at the 38th Annual Conference of the International Association of School Librarianship, Padua, Italy: International Association of School Librarianship. Retrieved from http://www.kzneducation.gov.za/Portals/0/ELITS%20website%20Homepage/IASL%202008/professional%20papers/lamarcaspacespp.pdf

Lin, P., Chen, K., & Chang, S.-S. (2010). Before there was a place called library – Library space as an invisible factor affecting students’ learning. Libri: International Journal of Libraries & Information Services, 60(4), 339–351.

Oblinger, D., G. (2006). Learning how to see. In D. Oblinger G. (Ed.), Learning Spaces (pp. 14.1–14.11). Boulder, CO: Educause. Retrieved from www.educause.edu/learningspaces

Willis, J., Bland, D., Hughes, H., & Elliott-Burns, R. (2013). Reimagining school libraries: emerging teacher pedagogic practices. Presented at the International Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education, Adelaide, South Australia. Retrieved from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/66925/7/66925.pdf

 

Outline

This essay will specifically focus on the libraries of educational institutions – in particular school libraries – their role in learning and the way in which design, design thinking and the design process can optimise student outcomes given the financial, physical and time constraints inherent to the school environment.

 

A critique of literature necessitates criterion from which to evaluate the material. One of the weaknesses in design literature in general and school library design in particular is the reliance on single story or anecdotal evidence to support decisions and change. The aforementioned six pieces of literature will be judged to see whether they incorporate an understanding and discussion of

  • how research-based educational discourse has influenced the design space,
  • the relationships between educational trends and physical and virtual spaces,
  • the incorporation of technical and physical standards of interoperability, usability and sustainability,
  • how collaboration can be enhanced through the design process, design thinking or physical, virtual or temporal spatial design

Educational Discourse

A number of themes characterise current educational discourse. Following a meta-analysis of evidence-based influences on student achievement, the conclusion was reached that major sources of variance in student’s achievement lie in the learners themselves (50%) and their teachers (30%) (Hattie, 2003, 2009). Claxton’s work on the qualities of successful learners and their underlying motivations – including responsibility, respect, real world application, choice, challenge and collaboration are of relevance to this discussion (McIntosh, 2011), as are any ways in which design thinking or changes to physical, virtual or temporal spaces can enhance the work of teachers in particular collaboration, co-planning and co-teaching with teacher librarians (Loertscher, 2014; Montiel-Overall, 2006, 2008; Todd, 2008).

 

Literature supports evidence that learner needs can be met by creating physical and virtual spaces, as well as using design thinking to allow learners greater autonomy (La Marca, 2008). Users should be involved in the design of learning spaces and programs (IDEO, 2014; Oblinger, 2006). Greater choice is provided by spaces that accommodate different learning styles, and promote informal learning while extending learner experience. Well-designed social spaces have a positive impact on motivation and the ability to learn by encouraging ‘conversations’ and interaction between faculty and students and intra-faculty collaboration (Haycock, 2007; IDEO, 2014; La Marca, 2008; Lin, Chen, & Chang, 2010; Oblinger, 2006; Willis, Bland, Hughes, & Elliott-Burns, 2013).

Educational Trends

The trends that have been identified that impact on the school library as a space include; learning no longer being limited by geography, time or physical spaces, the emergence of digital and virtual spaces (Joint, 2011; Kurvink, 2008; La Marca, 2008; Oblinger, 2006), a movement away from a fixed curriculum to inquiry based learning (Kuhlthau & Maniotes, 2010; Kuhlthau, Maniotes, & Caspari, 2012; Short, 2009), rapid globalisation with more multi-lingual/cultural learners in any learning environment, (Gee & Hayes, 2011; Kutner & Armstrong, 2012; Vega, 2014) learning no longer confined to educational institutions but becoming life-long and personalized (Gee & Hayes, 2011; McLoughlin & Lee, 2009) and learning is moving away from being individual, school bound and information based to being collaborative and interactive with an emphasis on analysis, thinking problem solving and knowledge building (Chau & Cheng, 2011; Ellis & Phillips, 2013; Sinclair, 2007; Vasiliou, Ioannou, & Zaphiris, 2014; Vaughan, Nickle, Silovs, & Zimmer, 2011). One of the merits of design thinking is that while it cannot always anticipate educational trends, it provides librarians and educators with the tools to respond to the challenges inherent in change (IDEO, 2014) – provided of course they are recognised on time. Oblinger (2006) also encourages experimentation, innovation and prototyping in educational spaces.

 

Education space is no longer defined by physical rooms and teaching but by learning and the means of providing access to shared specialist resources both physical and virtual that is flexible, responsive to individual needs, allows self-directed learning and opportunities for interaction and collaboration (La Marca, 2008; Oblinger, 2006; Willis et al., 2013). Instead of grades and diplomas “learning is the unit of success” (IDEO, 2014, p. 97), even when the outcome appears not to be favourable.

Technical and physical environment

The literature appears to agree on the importance of setting pedagogical, philosophical and social goals before planning learning spaces and evaluating these e against the mission and values of the organisation (La Marca, 2008; Lin et al., 2010; Oblinger, 2006; Willis et al., 2013). Discussions range from the social construction of space, and how this can catalyse encounters (Oblinger, 2006) and impact on functional areas, relationships and the service philosophy (Lin et al., 2010), power structures and the messaging of signage (Willis et al., 2013) to more practical issues around the importance of useable, interoperable, flexible and sustainable spaces with a discussion of physical elements, ambiance, lighting, colour, acoustics temperature, display and ‘agile’ furniture (La Marca, 2008; Willis et al., 2013).

 

Sustainability is an important theme due to the longevity of building structures relative to internal components such as hard/software and furnishings with an emphasis on the importance of continual flexibility and renewal to ensure the environment aligns with pedagogy, curricula, assumed practices and social factors (Hauke & Werner, 2012; Lin et al., 2010; Oblinger, 2006; Willis et al., 2013). The employment of design thinking allows for the rapid prototyping, mini-piloting and implementation responding to changes while working within constraints and involving all stakeholders in the space (IDEO, 2014).

Collaboration

A substantial body of research points to the value of teacher and librarian collaboration (Ferer, 2012; Gibbs, 2003; Haycock, 1998, 2007; Jones & Green, 2012; Kachel, 2013; Loertscher, 2014; Lonsdale, 2003; Montiel-Overall, 2006, 2008; Todd, 2008; Williamson, Archibald, & McGregor, 2010), yet little practical implementable advices is given on how libraries can change their physical, virtual or temporal spaces, or even implement design thinking in order to improve the likelihood of collaboration and integration.

 

Literature primarily focuses on the need to merge the academic and social dimensions of learning through flexible and adaptive spaces which cater for collaborative learning amongst users and patrons, recognising the communal character of knowledge and allowing for spontaneous user interactivity (Lin et al., 2010). A convincing argument is made for considering the way in which the new constructivist pedagogies of collaboration, interactive learning and analytic thinking have impacted design practices in order to situate physical and digital information geographically and symbolically into the social context of learning in order to advance and perpetuate knowledge (Lin et al., 2010). To meet these changes, library space design has evolved to favour ample ‘agile’ mobile spaces and flexible movable furnishings to facilitate the creation of a third space that offers resources and services above and beyond what the home, office or classroom is able to provide (La Marca, 2008; Willis et al., 2013) while flexible scheduling allows the “temporal space” within which collaboration has the time to occur (Gavigan, Pribesh, & Dickinson, 2010; Haycock, 1998, 2007).

Collaboration with users allows them to be acknowledged and heard, and the design thinking process offers some practical advices with a methodology which can be extended to enhancing collaboration within programs, services, spaces and systems (IDEO, 2014).

 

Analysis

One of the first hurdles in considering which practices translate best into practice is how to evaluate the success of an educational library space. While schools and teachers can be assessed on common standards, examination results, literacy and numeracy scores, the librarian is tasked with providing evidence for the more nebulous concepts of enhancing student and teacher learning, resourcing the curriculum, providing access to information and a pleasant physical environment (Gillespie & Hughes, 2014). Research attempting to quantify a link between achievement in the form of test scores and school libraries suggests the following characteristics of a successful school library:

  • Integration of information literacy skills in the curriculum
  • Adequate staffing, resourcing and funding
  • Collaborative planning between librarians and teachers
  • Extended library and staff hours
  • In-service training by librarians to teachers
  • Good quality, larger and newer collections
  • More student visits
  • Flexible scheduling (Kachel, 2013; Lonsdale, 2003).

 

However, academic achievement is just one aspect of the outcome indicators identified by the Victoria Department of Education in their evaluation of built learning spaces – others include engagement, interpersonal interactions, physical and psychological wellbeing and behavioural features – (Blackmore, Bateman, Loughlin, O’Mara, & Aranda, 2011). These features presume pre-conditions for learning receptiveness that learning spaces are burdened with assuming, and for which research indicates there is little empirical evidence.

 

Unfortunately this appears to also be the case with respect to the design considerations that most easily translate into practice, the “low hanging fruit” – often extolled by “library design” workshop participants (Hennah, n.d.-b) including an emphasis on ambiance, contemporising spaces, employing visual display and retailing techniques that probably all contribute to increased footfall and perhaps circulation, which however has no rigorous evidence based research that can link it with enhancing learning.

 

La Marca’s writing on Reading Spaces (2008) comes closest to looking at the links between library spaces and achievement attesting that giving an activity a space gives it value. Building on her own (La Marca, 2003) and other’s research (Elliott-Burns, 2003; Lackney, 2001) she identifies ambiance, access and ownership, flexibility, individuality, physical and student concerns as elements contributing to successful library reading space design, which, by implication, create successful readers with the resultant improvement in academic attainment. One could challenge this type of assumed causality as a case of post hoc fallacy.

 

Interestingly, none of the articles referred to above at any time indicate that any of the positive effects attributed to changes in design or placement of space may be a result of the “Hawthorne” or “novelty” effects, in which improvements may be a result of change in the environment and people’s interest in and response to the innovation or the feeling of being accorded attention when the spatial change is researched. In fact, school libraries may be doing themselves a disservice by following literature, research or anecdotes based on public libraries or perceived user needs. While innovation and novelty can increase footfall and circulation figures, (Bentheim, 2013; Hennah, n.d.-a) as Lippincott (2006) points out, after entry the library has to engage the patron in order to enhance learning and scholarship. In fact, research from museums seems to indicate that decreasing novelty could help create a non-distracting familiar environment where learning can take place (Kubota & Olstad, 1991). The need for novelty was experienced recently where, following a successful Valentine’s Day pink and red wrapped “book date” campaign (Eastlib, 2015a), the following month’s black covered “mystery book” campaign attracted little attention (Eastlib, 2015b).

 

Despite the importance of librarian / teacher collaboration on academic attainment, there is little mention of how physical and virtual space can enhance this – most articles focus exclusively on peer-to-peer or teacher-to-student collaboration. In an article on library staff spaces a wide range of issues is covered with only a brief mention of collaborative spaces and learning – that is focused on internal staff interaction (Felix, 2015). One has to look outside the discipline for suggestions as to how spaces can ‘manipulate and order engagement’ (Elliott-Burns, 2003, 2005; Willis et al., 2013) or ‘catalyze social encounters’ (Oblinger, 2006) – practices that have become the norm in business organisations such as Pixar, Apple and Google with their “braintrusts”, single staircases, war rooms and free meals allowing both for deliberate collaboration and ‘serendipitous interaction’ (Avallon & Schneider, 2013; Catmull, 2014; Knapp, 2014). Although Haycock (2007) includes environment, process and structure, communication and resources among the factors that positively influence collaboration, no mention is made of reconstruction of physical or virtual spaces or applying any type of design thinking to facilitate collaboration.

Conclusion

Peer-learning is a valuable but under-utilized method of engaging students, (Hattie & Yates, 2013), and could also assist the professional development of teachers and teacher-librarians. Communal learning spaces in libraries transformed to “learning commons” or “information commons” encourage peer-learning and collaboration between students of different ages, interests and values (Hay, 2006, 2010; Hay & Todd, 2010; Oblinger, 2006), however discussion of inter-collegial teacher / teacher librarian use of spaces is neglected. The ability to book spaces, librarians or other specialists online as well as the affordances of large flexible accommodating spaces impact how teachers learn, balancing equilibrium and disequilibrium, collaborative and individual space and enhancing shared beliefs (Willis et al., 2013).

 

Acoustics is mentioned with relative frequency in the literature, however discussion appears to be limited to the desirability of consideration of controlling noise levels or managing them according to the purpose of the space and acoustic standards (Blackmore et al., 2011; Cha & Kim, 2015; Elliott-Burns, 2005; Lackney, 2001; Lin et al., 2010; McDonald, 2010; Treasure, 2012). In practice, space, design or financial constraints may lead to sub-optimal acoustic environments which are difficult or expensive to remedy once a building is in use, standards change or when spaces are re-purposed (Hauke & Werner, 2012).

 

Much of the design literature and related research is “front-loaded” to the planning and design stages, with little literature and less evidence available on the implementation and transition phase; consolidation phase; and sustainability/re-evaluation phase with more emphasis on anecdote and design standards than educational practice and student outcomes (Blackmore et al., 2011). This may be due to the aforementioned “novelty effect” – once a new or renovated space is taken into operation, attention is on the new “next big thing” and few people are interested in measuring actual experience with design briefs or mock-up promises – this is unfortunate since significant learning is thereby neglected (Latimer, 2011). Spending time on post-occupancy evaluation (POE) literature is probably as worthwhile a pursuit as the emphasis on the design process and planning – including practical real life experiences, involving the voice and feedback of users who may not have been involved in the design process or may have had their comments and suggestions ignored (Baker, 2011; DeClercq & Cranz, 2014; Latimer, 2011).

 

Discussion on building and interior planning and design forms the bulk of discourse, in the chosen readings, but IDEO’s toolkit (2014) will possibly prove to be the most significant in practice. Design thinking is an empathic and intuitive process that assesses and responds to learner’s needs in as much as it is transformative and provides innovative solutions at the intersection of desirability, viability and feasibility (IDEO, 2014).

 

While not specifically geared to school libraries, it methodically takes the reader through the design thinking process of inspiration, ideation and iteration (Brown, 2008; Kimbell, 2011, 2012; Kuratko, Goldsby, & Hornsby, 2012) giving practical advice and concrete examples of implementation and results. Due to its public library focus however, it emphasizes meeting patron needs. It is suggested that school librarians would have to distance themselves somewhat from patron’s perceived and expressed needs and work towards applying these tools to the “wicked” (Buchanan, 1992) and “ill structured” (Simon, 1973) problems such as integration of information literacy into the curriculum, collaborative planning, extended hours, and flexible schedules, that, if solved, can best contribute to enhancing learning in the school community (Kachel, 2013; Lonsdale, 2003).

 

Haycock (2007) reminds us that educator / librarian collaboration is the single behaviour that most affects student achievement and that this behaviour models partnership, cooperative planning and teaching to students and other members of the community while integrating the library program into the curriculum and changing the role of the librarian from resourcer to learning facilitator. Design thinking interventions that have been observed include: giving language-arts teachers first opportunity to sign up for recess and lunch-time library supervision enhancing opportunity for deliberate and chance encounters with the librarian, as do booktalk pre-school “coffee mornings” (Day, 2015a); moving the library into the classroom through class libraries – for all subjects not just for language-arts classrooms (Day, 2013); and incorporating design thinking teaching into the research process (Day, 2015b). In practice, design thinking type interventions are likely to have lasting impact on teaching practice and enhanced student learning and merit more attention and research.

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Sinclair, B. (2007). Commons 2.0: Library spaces designed for collaborative learning. Educause Quarterly, 4, 4–6. Retrieved from http://er.educause.edu/~/media/files/article-downloads/eqm0740.pdf

Todd, R. J. (2008). The dynamics of classroom teacher and teacher librarian instructional collaborations. Scan, 27(2), 19–28.

Treasure, J. (2012, June). Why architects need to use their ears [Video file]. Retrieved August 8, 2015, from http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_why_architects_need_to_use_their_ears/transcript?language=en#t-30790

Vasiliou, C., Ioannou, A., & Zaphiris, P. (2014). Understanding collaborative learning activities in an information ecology: A distributed cognition account. Computers in Human Behavior, 41(0), 544–553. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.09.057

Vaughan, N., Nickle, T., Silovs, J., & Zimmer, J. (2011). Moving to their own beat: Exploring how students use Web 2.0 technologies to support group work outside of class time. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 10(3), 113–127. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=69835261&site=ehost-live

Vega, V. (2014, April 21). Research supports global curriculum. Retrieved April 22, 2014, from http://www.edutopia.org/stw-global-competence-research?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=post&utm_content=stw&utm_campaign=JSISresearch-repost#graph2

Williamson, K., Archibald, A., & McGregor, J. (2010). Shared vision: A key to successful collaboration? School Libraries Worldwide, 16(2), 16–30. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=55415805&site=ehost-live

Willis, J., Bland, D., Hughes, H., & Elliott-Burns, R. (2013). Reimagining school libraries: emerging teacher pedagogic practices. Presented at the International Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education, Adelaide, South Australia. Retrieved from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/66925/7/66925.pdf

 

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Blog 2: Observation – Dog Walk

I undertook a dog walk observation exercise where I considered the first stage of the Luma Taxonomy of Innovation – looking (Luma Institute, 2014). My route from home to the Botanic Gardens is roughly 1km and it takes me past a fairly busy transport hub of bus stops and a MRT (mass rail transport) station. Other touch points are a busy food court (Adam Food Centre), a Kindergarten, a church, and a shopping centre with a 24-hour supermarket. As an able-bodied person I employed the technique of “user journey” and “adopting personas” (McNabola et al., 2013) in order to better understand the landscape. It is a route I also sometimes cycle with my children in order to reach the sports fields near the Botanic Gardens, so I considered that experience.

 

Dogwalk

Dogwalk route & observations

McNabola et al (2013) suggest that in mapping a system one considers the “touch points” between users and “the system”. The touch points I identified included:

  • Changing transport modes (e.g. bus to walking, walking to crossing a road, walking to bus, walking to MRT, public transport to private car, cycling to public transport, public transport or walking to taxi)
  • Changing intention (transportation to destination – e.g. driving to kindergarten and taking child in; driving to shopping centre and shopping; walking / taking transportation to Botanic Gardens and walking in garden)
  • Changing persona (able bodied; cyclist; disabled; with stroller; with dog; with young children)
  • Changing context (raining; peak hour; during the day)

 

dog walk - scenarios

Design techniques – user journey &personas

As can be seen above (full size photos available here), different contexts, personas changes in mode and intentions can come into conflict with each other, or result in unmet or poorly met needs. The Singapore Government is aware of this and has created an “Active Mobility Advisory Panel”.

IMG_0542 (1)

 

 

 

References:

Fai, L. K. (2015, July 30). LTA panel to pave the way for safer footpaths, cycling paths – Channel NewsAsia [Newspaper]. Retrieved August 7, 2015, from http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/lta-panel-to-pave-the-way/2017806.html
Luma Institute. (2014). A Taxonomy of Innovation. Harvard Business Review, (January – February). Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2014/01/a-taxonomy-of-innovation/ar/1
McNabola, A., Moseley, J., Reed, B., Bisgaard, T., Jossiasen, A. D., Melander, C., … Schultz, O. (2013). Design for public good | Design Council (p. 100). London, UK: Design Council. Retrieved from http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/resources/report/design-public-good

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Transformation and Autonomy with a twist: from information to learning – Critical Reflection INF530

It’s been quite a ride this INF530, and as they say “it ain’t over until it’s over”, I have yet to complete my digital essay and enter that huge time warp black hole of combining words with media and images in such a way that it enhances rather than distracts, compels rather than confuses.

 

INF530 key wordsLooking back on the topic headings I decided to make a wordle, to see things with a little visual perspective. What jumped out was “information” and “learning” and I had to think back to previous courses where the nuances of data, information, knowledge, wisdom were picked over in meticulous detail (Barrett, Cappleman, Shoib, & Walsham, 2004; Hecker, 2012; Pantzar, 2000; UNESCO, 2005) or the role of the teacher or school or librarian is discussed, particularly in the light of information literacy (Eisenberg, 2008; Mihailidis, 2012; O’Connell, 2008; Sheng & Sun, 2007; Wallis, 2003). Yes these are all part of the picture, but the words that I’d like to contribute and focus on are not there, because they are implicit and essential rather than explicit. Integral to information and learning are transformation and autonomy.

 

Firstly transformation, it’s synonyms (conversion, metamorphosis, renewal, revolution, shift, alteration) and its’ derivatives:

  • the doing – to transform,
  • the process – transformation,
  • the subject and the state – transformed, and
  • the agent – transformer.

And the twist, because in education we are simultaneously the agent and the subject, the initiator, the process and the end state. We cannot “do” without “being”. And that is the value of plunging into a distance-learning course that takes one beyond the mundane and everyday into personally being transformed and feeling the simultaneous discomfort and thrill of not always being in control of the process or the outcome. Sometimes the truth is found in the antonym – stagnation and sameness. The resistance to change that saps energy rather than re-energises as transformation does.

 

Conole (2013, p. 61) stated “We have to accept that it is impossible to keep up with all the changes, so we need to develop coping strategies which enable individuals to create their own personal digital environment of supporting tools and networks to facilitate access to and use of relevant information for their needs.” That is part of the solution, the other is finding one’s place in digital and physical learning ecologies (O’Connell, 2014; Vasiliou, Ioannou, & Zaphiris, 2014; Wang, Guo, Yang, Chen, & Zhang, 2015). Yes ecologies, because we are, and our students and children will be “shape shifting portfolio people” (Gee & Hayes, 2011) whether we want to acknowledge and embrace the fact or not.

 

Which brings me to the second of “my” take-away words. Autonomy. It is autonomy with a difference – autonomy within communities and networks of our own and others’ making. As Downes (2012, bk. Connectivism and Connective Knowledge) puts it “knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, … learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks”.

 

However without the aforementioned transformation we can’t have the autonomy. It is an autonomy hard won, through dint of our own efforts, the pushing and pulling and attraction of our teachers, mentors, peers and heroes. Autonomy feeds off motivation and self-regulatory control (Kormos & Csizér, 2014). The latter including commitment, meta-cognitive, satiation, emotion and environmental control (Tseng, Dörnyei, & Schmitt, 2006). Ironically we need others to attain autonomy. Autonomy is not independence but interdependence, not being on your own, but being part of a larger community of learners all together on individual journeys. It’s the forums, blogs, comments, feedback and Facebook posts. The emojis, irrelevant and irreverent tweets; words of encouragement and critique, ideas and suggestions that propel us forward and backward and around in circles – but ever expanding circles and cycles of improvement and transformation.

 

Thank-you to my peers, my course co-ordinator Judy, those who went before us and those who will come after us may we transform and be transformed, gain autonomy and enable others do so too in this journey of life-long learning.

What you are speaks so loud I can not hear what you say - Original Quote by Emerson

What you are speaks so loud I can not hear what you say – Original Quote by Emerson

References

Barrett, M., Cappleman, S., Shoib, G., & Walsham, G. (2004). Learning in knowledge communities. European Management Journal, 22(1), 1–11. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.emj.2003.11.019

Conole, G. (2013). Open, social and participatory media. In Designing for learning in an open world (pp. 47–63). New York ; Heidelberg: Springer.

Downes, S. (2012). My eBooks [Web Log]. Retrieved April 19, 2015, from http://www.downes.ca/me/mybooks.htm

Eisenberg, M. B. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the information age. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39–47. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=51198131&site=ehost-live

Gee, J. P., & Hayes, E. (2011). Language and learning in the digital age (1st ed). New York, NY: Routledge.

Hecker, A. (2012). Knowledge beyond the individual? Making sense of a notion of collective knowledge in organization theory. Organization Studies, 33(3), 423–445. http://doi.org/10.1177/0170840611433995

Kormos, J., & Csizér, K. (2014). The interaction of motivation, self-regulatory strategies, and autonomous learning behavior in different learner groups. TESOL Quarterly, 48(2), 275–299. http://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.129

Mihailidis, P. (2012). Media literacy and learning commons in the digital age: Toward a knowledge model for successful integration into the 21st century school library. The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults, 2. Retrieved from http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/2012/04/media-literacy-and-learning-commons-in-the-digital-age-toward-a-knowledge-model-for-successful-integration-into-the-21st-century-school-library/

O’Connell, J. (2008). School library 2.0 : new skills, new knowledge, new futures. In P. Godwin & J. Parker (Eds.), Information literacy meets Library 2.0 (pp. 51–62). London: Facet.

O’Connell, J. (2014, July 19). Information ecology at the heart of knowledge [Web Log]. Retrieved March 28, 2015, from http://judyoconnell.com/2014/07/19/information-ecology-at-the-heart-of-knowledge/

Pantzar, E. (2000). Knowledge and wisdom in the information society. Foresight, 2(2), 230–236.

Sheng, X., & Sun, L. (2007). Developing knowledge innovation culture of libraries. Library Management, 28(1/2), 36–52. http://doi.org/10.1108/01435120710723536

Tseng, W.-T., Dörnyei, Z., & Schmitt, N. (2006). A new approach to assessing strategic learning: The case of self-regulation in vocabulary acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 27(1), 78–102. http://doi.org/10.1093/applin/ami046

UNESCO. (2005). Towards knowledge societies. Retrieved fromhttp://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001418/141843e.pdf

Vasiliou, C., Ioannou, A., & Zaphiris, P. (2014). Understanding collaborative learning activities in an information ecology: A distributed cognition account. Computers in Human Behavior, 41(0), 544–553. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.09.057

Wallis, J. (2003). Information-saturated yet ignorant: information mediation as social empowerment in the knowledge economy. Library Review, 52(8), 369–372. http://doi.org/10.1108/00242530310493770

Wang, X., Guo, Y., Yang, M., Chen, Y., & Zhang, W. (2015). Information ecology research: past, present, and future. Information Technology and Management, 1–13. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10799-015-0219-3