Reflective Practice ETL401 Assignment 3 Part C

Part C – Reflective Practice

Throughout this subject it has been fascinating to learn about information literacy and the newer, upgraded model of digital literacy.  Before this subject began I would have told you that literacy was all about reading and writing, but I have learned that literacy is far more complex than simply reading and writing (Parnell, 2018a, Parnell, 2018b).  Course content and wider reading has lead me to engage deeply with the notion of literacy as contextual, and ask some tough questions particularly about first nations and colonial theories of literacy (Parnell, 2018c). 

In our modern, information-rich environment, it is necessary to learn information literacy skills in order to work more efficiently (Big 6, n.d.). Information literacy, while having a multitude of definitions, essentially boils down to the capable location, use and reuse of information (Wocke, 2018).  Information literacy is contextual, and so it is never fully conquered, it is a matter of lifelong learning (Belshaw, 2014). As such, information literacy models are all closely related (Eisenberg & Berkowitz, 1999) while having their own distinct voices and features (National Library of New Zealand, n.d.a).  In keeping with literacy as being contextual (Belshaw, 2014, Simon, 2018), it makes sense that different information literacy models work best in different situations (National Library of New Zealand, n.d.a).

I engaged deeply with Dr D Belshaw’s theory of Digital Literacies (Belshaw,  2014), which challenged me to think about the many different aspects of digital literacy (Parnell, 2018a) and what makes someone truly literate – both in a digital and in an analog sense.  Dr Belshaw’s theory (Belshaw, 2014), and other reading (CILIP, 2018) made me realise that literacy involves ethical reuse, an aspect that I had not before considered.  I am still uncertain as to whether I agree with Belshaw’s (2018) conclusion that the pinnacle of digital literacy is the remix. 

Throughout my studies I also engaged with the notion of privilege, especially as it relates to libraries (Parnell, 2018d) and Guided Inquiry specifically (Parnell, 2018e). I struggle to reconcile the level of support and resourcing recommended to support Guided Inquiry with what is available in schools, in my experience (Parnell, 2018e). Inquiry learning has a solid research basis, and is compatible with my early childhood training.  I understand that Guided Inquiry does work, and is also backed by research (Torrington 2013; Scheffers & Alekna, 2015), but I have been unable to come across any studies of it working, as intended, in poorly resourced schools with large classes and insufficient funding.  Any inquiry process assumes a certain level of resourcing, both on staffing and informational levels, (Parnell, 2018f) and that level of resourcing is not always available to schools in low socio-economic areas.  

Another challenge to implementing inquiry learning in a school is the low status of teacher-librarians.  Studies in Australia (Lupton, 2016, House of Representatives, 2011) have shown that school executives frequently do not have an understanding of the role of the teacher-librarian and how a teacher-librarian can enhance the educational program, through resource selection, collaborative teaching, curricular support, reader advisory and the many other roles a  teacher-librarian fulfils (Parnell, 2018j). There is more than sufficient research to prove that a qualified teacher-librarian makes a difference in a school (Hughes, 2014), but not everyone can see that.

Inquiry learning benefits from collaboration between teachers and teacher-librarians, but collaboration must be supported at the executive level for it to work (National Library of New Zealand, n.d.b; Parnell; 2018g; Parnell, 2018i).  Principals need to be sold on the benefits of collaboration (Parnell, 2018l), in terms that support the schools aims and goals (Bonanno, 2011). Teachers, in their pre-service training and in their professional journals, are not encouraged to collaborate with  teacher-librarians – the articles supporting teacher-librarian/teacher collaboration are almost exclusively printed in teacher-librarianship journals (Parnell, 2018h).  Feedback from the field indicates that funding and executive support of collaboration for inquiry learning is in short supply (Softlink, 2015). 

After not being satisfied with guided inquiry as an appropriate model for my circumstances, I investigated a wide range of information literacy models (Parnell, 2018j).  Some I investigated thoroughly before eliminating as an appropriate model while others I struggled to find sufficient, convincing information about.  For example, I read Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono (2000) but felt that while Six Thinking Hats was a good model for metacognition it was not adequate for information literacy (Parnell, 2018j). I read about Herring’s PLUS model but couldn’t find sufficient information about it, and found the lack of predictable flow in this model to be confusing (Parnell, 2018j).  As a result, I chose the Big 6 Model.

The Big 6 Model is the most widely used Information Literacy model in the world (National Library of New Zealand, n.d.a, Big 6 website) and therefore has the greatest chance of being reinforced across all educational venues a student might attend.  It has a proven track record, having been used in schools for over twenty years (Eisenberg & Berkowitz, 1999).  It combines six key stages, each with two substages, to cover the whole of the information search process, no matter the age of the student (Big 6, n.d.).  Younger students need only learn the six stages (with the sub stages informing the teacher’s practice) and the method has been modified to three stages for the youngest of students to begin learning information literacy as early as possible (Eisenberg & Berkowitz, 1999). 

The simplicity of the Big 6 model is what attracted me, as well as the modification by Franklin and Chow (2009) that provides students with a mnemonic using common verbs that describe the six stages, to assist them in recalling the six stages, which will increase transferability (Herring, 2011). The ability to transfer this information across subjects and situations is critical to developing information literacy (Fitzgerald & Garrison, 2017) and our students will benefit from a unified, consistent approach to information literacy in order for them to internalise the process and transfer it across these different situations (Herring, 2011) . 

The teacher-librarian, as an information professional, is uniquely positioned to teach information literacy, and make connections between different subjects (Mitchell, 2011).  Teacher-librarians have a lot to offer schools, and need to advocate passionately at every level for support to prove their worth.


Belshaw, D. (2014). The essential elements of digital literacies. Retrieved from <> 

Belshaw, D. (2018, Mar 22) The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies (Startklar?! March 2018)

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Big 6 (n.d.) Big 6 Skills Overview. Retrieved from

Bonnano, K. (2011) ASLA 2011. Karen Bonanno, Keynote speaker: A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan. [Video file]. Retrieved from:

CILIP (2018) CILIP Definition of Information Literacy 2018 [pdf file] Retrieved from

De Bono, E. (2000) Six Thinking Hats. London: Penguin. 

Eisenberg, M. B. & Berkowitz, R. E. (1999) Teaching information & technology skills : the big 6 in elementary schools. Ohio: Linworth Publishing Inc.

Fitzgerald, L. & Garrison, K. (2017) ‘It Trains Your Brain’: Student Reflections on Using the Guided Inquiry Design Process. Synergy,    15/2

Franklin, G., & Chow, S. (2009) Big 6 Posters. [pdf file] Retrived from

Herring, J. (2011). Transferring information literacy practices: implications for teacher librarians and teachers. Scan. Vol 30. Retrieved from

House of Representatives. Standing Committee on Education and Employment. (2011). School libraries and teacher librarians in 21st century Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from

Hughes, H. (2014). School libraries, teacher-librarians and student outcomes: Presenting and using the evidence. School Libraries Worldwide, 20(1), 29-50. Retrieved from

Lupton, M. (2016). Adding value: Principals’ perceptions of the role of the teacher librarian. School Libraries Worldwide. 22(1), 49-61. doi: 10.14265.22.1.005

Mitchell, P. (2011) Resourcing 21st century online Australian Curriculum : the role of school libraries. FYI : the Journal for the School Information Professional. v.15 n.2 p.10-15; Autumn 2011. Retrieved from

National Library of New Zealand (n.d.a) Approaches to inquiry learning. Retrieved from

National Library of New Zealand (n.d.b) School libraries and inquiry learning. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018a, April 10) Information literacy module 5 ETL401. Liz at the library.

Parnell, E. (2018b, April, 10) Literacy. Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018c, May 1) Illiterate? Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018d, April 26) Module 6 reflections and a four activity. Liz at the library.

Parnell, E. (2018e, April 10) Guided inquiry – unicorn or reality. Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018f, April 10) Information literacy instruction. Liz at the library.  Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018g, April 9) Guided inquiry – challenges. Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018h, April 8) Inquiry learning and teacher-librarian/teacher collaboration. Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018i, March 18) Principals and teacher-librarians. Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018j, March 15) The roles of the teacher-librarian. Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018k, April, 11) Information literacy models. Liz in the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018l, April 9) Guided inquiry – challenges. Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Scheffers, J. & Alekna, G. (2015) Scaffolding for success: Support students’ amazing journey with guided inquiry. Scan. Vol 34(1). Retrieved from

Simon, M. (2018, May 2) Reflections on information literacy – complexity, context and transfer. Mrs Simon says. Retrieved from

Softlink. (2015). What’s trending? [pdf file] Retrieved from

Torrington, J. (2013). Using guided inquiry in a year 3 classroom. Access, 27(4), 22-24. Retrieved from

Wocke, G. (2018, April 26) Information literacy – a commentary. Gretha Reflecting. Retrieved from

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