Part C – Reflective Practice
Initially I thought that this assignment, was simply asking me to design a unit of work. Through further study and participation in discussion forums and lectures, I can see now that the Teacher Librarian’s (TL’s) role in as an information specialist within a school that teaching information literacy is in fact one of our dominant yet underutilised roles. NSW DoE’s Library policy documents identifies the teaching of ‘information skills’ as a key TL teaching and learning role (DoE 2016; Dawson & Kallenberger 2015). Information Literacy can be defined as the set of skills needed to locate, retrieve, assess and use information to solve problems and become independent lifelong learners (Bundy, 2004).
Today’s Teacher Librarians as stated by ASLA should aim to ‘adopt the Guided Inquiry approach to teaching and learning helps students to construct meaning, think creatively and solve problems’. The TL is responsible for both creating and maintaining a supportive learning environment in which students are provided with the support required to complete research and inquiry tasks to their best ability. ALIA/ASLA states “guided inquiry enables learners to develop higher-order thinking through guidance at critical points in the learning process. Learners are able to use a variety of sources of information and different modes of learning to enhance their deeper understandings” (2009, p.1). Thankfully, the new curriculum also encourages classroom teachers to embrace an information literacy approach within the learning environment, meaning that the TL does not have to be the sole advocate for an inquiry approach, but can instead be there to encourage and support other educators in a collaborative role.
When looking at the unit I was to design, I was leaning towards using Kulthau’s Guided Inquiry model, as it was the most respected and oft cited in our readings (Herring 2006; FitzGerald 2011). However through these readings, I was not convinced that for the particular group of students I had in mind that this model would suit them best. The alternative Information Literacy model I chose to use was the TASC model (Thinking Actively in a Social Context). The students in my chosen context generally fall into one of two categories; perfectionistic or apathetic. The TASC wheel of inquiry (Wallace, 2012, p. 60) provides the perfect amount of structure for students to follow, while also allowing them to travel both forwards and backwards through the different stages if they wish to add to their work or clarify something. The reflection stage is a vital stage for all students, forcing them to honestly judge how well they achieved their own outcomes and what relationship this has with the amount of effort they put in. The TASC model requires active thinking for both students and teachers, and success can not be achieved without problem solving and lateral thinking. Wallace states that “When learning is in the context of real life experience, then learners can identify with the topic and develop ownership, and also relate to the learning in a personal way because it has relevance. (Wallace, 2012, p. 61).
The framework itself is divided into eight different segments:
- Gather and organise: what do I know already
- Identify: What am I going to do?
- Generate: How many ways can I do it?
- Decide: Which are the best ideas?
- Implement: Let’s do it!
- Evaluate: How well did I do?
- Communicate: Let’s share what we have learned.
- Learn from experience: What have we learned?
Figure 1: TASC Wheel. (Wallace, 2012, p. 61)
Research confirms that student results, problem-solving skills, collaboration and processing skills have greatly improved through them participating in an inquiry unit (Larmer & Mergendoller, 2010). The professionals (both classroom teacher and Teacher Librarian) here take on the role of facilitator, as opposed to the sole provider and access point to information. Information Literacy models enable students to think critically about and categorise information and knowledge they acquire while also providing them with opportunities to reflect on their learning, both the outcomes and the process.
Realistically, there are numerous IL models available and if you are anything like me, the temptation to try as many as possible is both admirable yet impractical at the same time. Simons (2018) highlights the work of Sarah Martin from Stonefields School in Auckland, New Zealand. I was lucky enough in 2015 to visit the school on an educational exchange and have seen the benefits of the students and staff having a shared language in regards to their IL model. The model for their “breakthrough” is one where the students can easily transfer the research skills they have learned through to their next project, allowing them to grow on these skills and not use their energy learning a new metalanguage and structure. Students could clearly articulate which stage of the learning process they were at, and impressively were able to see their learning struggles or blocks in a positive light and not a deterrent to their progress.
While it may seem daunting and like an increase in workload, when implemented strategically and thoughtfully, student participation, feelings of self-efficacy, levels of motivation and achievement and approach to learning should increase. This will likely be the case for both students already achieving high grades, as well as students who are lacking motivation. Inquiry based models challenge individual learners where they are at and will push them accordingly. Teacher Librarians and Classroom Teachers if they are not already need to make this teaching shift so as to effectively prepare their students for real-life learning. These IL models promote some essential learning tools students (and their teachers) need to cope and potentially thrive in our constantly-changing technological society.
ACARA. (2016). Key Ideas: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability. Australian Curriculum v8.3 .Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/information-and-communication-technology-capability/introduction/key-ideas
ASLA. (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Australian School Library Association. Retrieved from
ASLA. (2014). Evidence guide for teacher librarians at the proficient career stage: Australian professional standards for teachers. Australian School Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/evidence_guide_prof.pdf
Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). & Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2009). Policy on guided-inquiry and the curriculum. Author. Retrieved from
Bundy, A. (ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice. 2nd ed. Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL) and Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL). Retrieved from http://www.caul.edu.au/content/upload/files/infoliteracy/InfoLiteracyFramework.pdf
Dawson, M. & Kallenberger, N. (Eds.). (2007). Information skills in the school: Engaging learners in constructing knowledge. NSW: Department of Education and Training. Retrieved from http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/teachingideas/isp/docs/infoskills.pdf
FitzGerald, L. (2011). The twin purposes of Guided Inquiry: Guiding student inquiry and evidence based practice. Scan, 30(1), 26-41.
Herring, J. (2006). A critical investigation of students’ and teachers’ views of the use of information literacy skills in school assignments. School Library Media Research, 9.
Larmer, J. & Mergendoller, J. (2010). 7 essentials for project-based learning. Educational Leadership, 68(1), p.34-37. Retrieved from http://primo.unilinc.edu.au/primo_library/libweb/action/search.
Martin, S. 2012. Stonefields School building learning capacity [Video file]. Retrieved May 3, 2018 from
Simons, M. (2018, May 3). Arguments for a whole school approach to information literacy and inquiry [blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/mrssimonsays/
O’Connell, J. (2012). So you think they can learn? Scan (31), 5-11. Retrieved from http://primo.unilinc.edu.au/primo_library/libweb/action/search.
Treadwell, M. 2013. Stonefields2 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGbGiMeLk_M
Wallace, B. (2012). TASC: Thinking Actively in a Social Context. A universal problem-solving process: A powerful tool to promote differentiated learning experiences. Gifted Education International. 28(1) 58–83. doi: 10.1177/0261429411427645