Academic integrity – more than just plagiarism.

Tumisu / Pixabay – Right or Wrong?

 

Academic integrity is often espoused and bandied about across educational institutions, especially in the first few weeks of every scholastic year. 

La Trobe university describes it as shared values and behaviour that includes but is not exclusive to honesty, fairness and responsible practices. This concept of honesty in academia is a two way street.  Educational institutions such as schools and universities are obliged to award credit and acknowledge honestly conducted work. Students are responsible for ensuring that their work meets the required standards mandated (LaTrobe, 2019).  The onus of practices that promote academic honesty need to be equally addressed by students, staff, executive and organisations. It is not simply the role of a student to avoid plagiarism, but also the role of education to provide them with the skills and knowledge to do so.  Additionally, society needs to realise that academic integrity does not start and finish with plagiarism.  Plagiarism is just an aspect of authentic academia. Other practices include the creation of assessment tasks that limit the risk of dishonest practices and organisations to adequately address infringements in their policies with appropriate levels of censure that are age and stage appropriate.  The role of teacher librarian is multifaceted when it comes to academic integrity. Due to their dynamic position, a TL is able to address academic honesty from a student and classroom teacher (CT) lens and from a department and school perspective.   

Academic honesty starts with the classroom teacher.  If teachers continuously utilise reputable sources in their teaching and learning, as well as consistently reference them correctly; then they are modeling good practice. Students (and teachers) need to be aware that academic honesty is not just for assessment tasks.  Its for all tasks. Like all skills, good research behavioural practices such as using databases, encyclopaedias and journal articles are essential in formulating evidence based assertions. Using disreputable sources does not bode well for your postulations. W. Edwards Deming was quoted in Forbes (2016) that “without data you’re just a person with an opinion”.  My experience as a scientist holds me in good authority in championing this point. In the fields of science and mathematics, opinions hold little value. It is the data from rigorously run experiments that define our thinking process. Poorly run experiments with inconclusive data have no value; as do opinions with no justification and evidence. Opinions are fine when limited to coffee preferences but not in academics. 

The other aspect of academic integrity within the TL’s and or CT’s realms, is the explicit teaching of information literacy.  Information literacy is defined by the ability to find, seek, use and create information and traditionally the domain of TL area of expertise (Kuhthau et al, 2012).  IL needs to be taught and then subsequently assessed in order for students to reach proficiency (Jacobson et al. 2018; Qayyum & Smith, 2018, p257; McGrew et al. 2018).  It is not passively acquired by the act of completing a research task – but rather, these skills need to be integrated into daily practice to boost competency (Kong, 2014).  Part of these practices include the direct instruction of correct referencing techniques.  As mentioned before, plagiarism is AN aspect of academic honesty, it is not the entirety.

Whilst it teaching information literacy and the finer points of referencing is essential, it is important to note that the assessment task itself can be a liability to honest practice.   Introducing mandatory evidence of progress, drafts and log books are other useful methods in ensuring authenticity of work. Assessment tasks that are repeated at yearly intervals for indefinite periods of time are also very problematic.  This is due to the fact that its simplistic to assume that students do not try to seek aid from older siblings and or cousins. Having a maximum time frame of 2 years allowed for a particular task reduces the likelihood of younger relatives plagiarising from older siblings.  Another point to note is that nuances of language in assessment task construction can reduce the likelihood of plagiarism. Requesting students to analyse, justify and relate to their community requires higher order thinking skills and is harder to successfully pass off as own work due to the nature of the questions.  TL can be of great assistance to teachers in the construction of assessment tasks. Ezard (2019) pointed out that co-creation and collective capacity is the fundamental basis of true collaborative practice (cited in Templeton, 2019). Collaboration between departments and the library can result in a positive sharing of expertise and knowledge resulting in tasks that elicit deep understanding and truly engage the student. 

Departmental heads and school administrators have the last word on academic honesty in a school situation.  The school policies are the framework in which the academic integrity of the staff and students is based upon.  Therefore it is up to the executives to ensure the policies are current with contemporary practices which includes the rapid evolution of technology and the challenges that it brings.  They are also responsible to clearly define what constitutes minor, moderate and major infringements and their appropriate consequences. Staff need to realise that a major infringement in middle school is not the same as a major infringement in senior school.  A suggestion would be construct a hierarchy of violations that is clearly distributed to students and teachers. This transparency reduces the likelihood of students citing ignorance in their defence. An example of such a hierarchy from ANU, Canberra and Andrews University in Michigan are available for your perusal.   

Much has been said so far about how teaching staff can do to promote academic honesty.  But in all honesty, students need to also be aware of their role in this dual relationship.  Students need to follow the referencing guidelines set by their institution. Whether it be APA, Harvard or MLA citation styles, students need to conform.  They also need to refrain from reusing earlier work and badging it as new work. Many students feel that this cannot be plagiarism as its their own material.  But what they are unaware of is that they can reference previous works. The most common ways in which students are academically dishonest is collusion and unequal group work.  Collusion as Monash University (2019) points out is the “unauthorised collaboration on assessable work with other people”. Frequently unauthorised partners include parents, older siblings, tutors and friends.  It is dishonest to present the collaborative efforts of multiple people off as individual work. Group work is a minefield where academic honesty is concerned. It is very common for one or two people in a group to carry the team.  This unequal distribution of work is often due to a participant’s absenteeism and or disinterest. Unfortunately, there is no suggestion I can offer as I have been guilty of doing too much in past group assessments in order to pass/complete a task.  In my opinion, (no facts), I believe that group tasks should not be used for summative assessments tasks due the inequitable nature of collaborative groups.  

Academic honesty is not just for students to follow when submitting their assignments.  Rather it is a mindset, a code of conduct, developed during schooling years and manifested in adulthood.  As a code of conduct, infringements of this nature need to be treated similarly to infringements of other conduct related behaviour.  Simply assigning punitive measures is not conducive to learning and reducing future occurrences.  Instead, it is more productive to create a situation in which academic integrity is the norm and best practice for both students and teachers.  Academic honesty is more than just plagiarism.  Its is the authenticity of your work and the extension of self. 

References

Ezard, T., (2019) Leading the Buzz in your school. ASLA 50th Conference. Canberra

Jacobsen, R., Halvorsen, A., Frasier, A., Schmitt, A., Crocco, M., and Segall, A. (2018). Thinking deeply, thinking emotionally; how high school students make sense of evidence. Theory & Research in Social Education. 46, 232-276. DOI 10.1080/00933104.2018.1425170

 

Jones, M. & Silberzahn, P. (2016) Without an opinion, you’re just another person with data. Forbes – Media and Entertainment. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/awsmediaandentertainment/2019/09/12/how-to-thrive-in-todays-disrupted-media-markets/#7862807770ed

 

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. & Caspari, A. (2012). Guided inquiry design: A framework for inquiry in your school. Libraries Unlimited. USA.

 

Kong, S. (2014). Developing information literacy and critical thinking skills through domain knowledge learning in digital classrooms: An experience of practicing flipped classroom strategy. Computers & Education. 78, pp.160-173,  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2014.05.009

 

Latrobe University (2019). Academic Integrity. Student Administration. Retrieved from https://www.latrobe.edu.au/students/admin/academic-integrity

 

Monash University (2019). Academic integrity, plagiarism and collusion. Student Administration. Retrieved from https://www.latrobe.edu.au/students/admin/academic-integrity

 

McGrew, S., Breakstone, J., Ortega, T., Smith, M., and Wineburg, S. (2018). Can students evaluate online sources? Learning from assessments of civic online reasoning. Theory & Research in Social Education. 46, 165-193, DOI 10.1080/00933104.2017.1416320

 

Qayyum, M., &  Smith, David. (2018). Changing research behaviours of university students with progression through a course. Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association. 67: 3 pp256-277 DOI: 10.1080/24750158.2018.1502243

Templeton, T. (2019). Co-existing or co-operating. Trish’s trek into bookspace [blog]. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/04/18/co-existing-or-co-operating/

 

“Its the Skills that matter” – 401 – Task 3 – Part C

The ability to seek, use and create information successfully is an imperative in this modern world.  I have previously discussed this societal change and I have spent an inordinate amount of words prophesying the importance of fluency in information literacy (IL) to the point where I even wrote an essay on digital literacy, its impact on pedagogy and the role of a teacher librarian.

I thought I had exhausted this topic, but then it occurred to me that I have not reflected upon my own understanding of information literacy and how that impacts the role of a Teacher librarian.

…….Eh… What? More words?

 

Let us review what I have learned this semester… (briefly, I promise!)

  1. Society has evolved from product based to information based (Ricaurte, 2016) and people are not coping with this information overload (Thomas et al. 2016).   Check out my amazing ‘Porridge pot’ analogy in Module 2.1
  2. Literacy levels are reducing (Lanning & Mallek, 2017).
  3. IL is poorly articulated and not embedded across national curriculum (Farmer, 2014; Lupton, 2014)
  4. …an attempt was made (Bonanno & Fitzgerald, 2014) but it was poorly planned and executed (Why not review my review of Lupton’s review 2014?).
  5. IL needs to be explicitly taught and assessed so that students see its value (Jacobson et al. 2018; Qayyum & Smith, 2018, p257; McGrew et al. 2018)… and please don’t say just do a research task and the skills will be accidentally learned.  It won’t (McGrew et al. 2018).
  6. Evidence shows that Inquiry learning improves information literacy (Kuhlthau et al, 2012) as well as boosting…
  7. student motivation and self-regulation (Buchanan et al. 2016).
  1. Curriculum embedding of IL is important (McGrew et al. 2018; Berg, 2018)  and
  2. classroom integration of IL boosts IL competency (Kong, 2014)
  3. Lack of IL leads to poor decision making skills and life outcomes  (Berg, 2018; Wood, 2017; Kachel, 2016)

The lightbulb moment came about…. NOW!

Donna did phrase it better when that light switched on.  BUT I do digress…

Anywhoo… back to the task.

So from  the readings and modules in this semester I can deduce:

  1. There is a need for a IL framework in schools.
  2. IL needs to be a planned learning experience
  3. that allows students to build new IL skills upon prior knowledge.  (Christy reckons from kindy and I agree!)
  4. Therefore, IL needs to be embedded across the curriculum and year levels,
  5. As  IL is cumulative (Carolien explains this far better). 

BASICALLY – Schools and education departments need to have a  framework that addresses IL and implement a school-wide approach for the best outcome… on an aside, I find it amusing that P E Island on the Canadian east coast has such a policy. Anne Shirley would have been so proud!!

There are numerous ways that IL can be implemented in schools but for the sake of efficiency and word count, I am going to fast track the the conversation to what matters to TL in schools.

Inquiry learning is a method of increasing information literacy and promoting soft skills.  There are several models of inquiry learning available, and I could spend another inordinate number of words describing and analysing these different models but Yvette has ‘taken one for the team’ with her analysis of the various models.   So read hers.

My preference is the Guided Inquiry Design (GID).  Why?

  1. It is based upon extensive research.  As a practicing scientist for many years, I am a great believer in basing my practice on research and evidence.  GID is considered the GOLD standard, which is AMAZING for my neurotic brain!
  2. GID  places equal importance on the cognitive and affective aspects of the ISP.  Affect plays a strong role in student (and my) motivation.  So by understanding when students are having low affect, guidance and mediation can help them overcome this hurdle successfully
  3. Naturally,  there are difficulties in implementing Inquiry learning in schools.  The presence of standardised testing, is a big prevention of authentic teaching and learning within schools (… there is an elephant in the room…).  And unless ACARA and government bodies realise this, then inquiry learning may always struggle to gain a strong presence in all the KLAs.

Oh look – The elephant’s name is NAPLAN!

So what does this mean for me?

A TL role in schools is no longer just about books, referencing and plagiarism lessons (Lanning & Mallek, 2017).  Rather, the role has become more dynamic in nature, much to my surprise.

 

The role of a TL has evolved from

TL can affect IL by:

  1. Creating and implementing  an IL framework that executes ACARA’s general capabilities across the curriculum (working on one now at work!!)
  2. Co create and or collaborate to create: (see my GID task – NAILED IT!)
    1. Units with embedded IL
    2. Inquiry units  IL with skills
      1. Embedded within
      2. Taught explicitly
  3. Providing resources that
    1. Support content
    2. Support inquiry skills
      1. Connecting students to resources
  4. Explicitly teach information literacy skills  ie referencing, bibliographies, search terms. (Ntuli, 2016)

Trombetta (2017)

As you can see, a TL does more for IL than just occasionally teach a class about referencing.  Rather, a TL  implements a framework that embeds important literacy skills into and across the curriculum.  This makes the role of a TL extremely important to students, schools and the wider community.

(Now guess who is feeling smug?)

What’s your skill? This is mine.

 

References

Berg, C., Malvey, D., and Donohue, M. (2018). Without foundations, we can’t build: Information literacy and the need for strong library programs. In the Library with the Lead pipe.  Retrieved from http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2018/strong-school-library-programs/

Bonanno, K. with Fitzgerald, L. (2014). F-10 inquiry skills scope and sequence, and F-10 core skills and tools. Eduwebinar Pty Ltd.

Buchanan, S., Harlan, M., Bruce, Christine S., and Edwards, Sylvia L. (2016). Inquiry based learning models, information literacy, and student engagement: A literature review. School Libraries Worldwide. 22(2), pp. 23-39.

Garrison, K., and FitzGerald, L. (2016). ‘It’s like stickers in your brain’: Using the guided inquiry process to support lifelong learning skills in an Australian school library.  A school library built for the digital age. 45th IASL Annual conference. Japan.

Jacobsen, R., Halvorsen, A., Frasier, A., Schmitt, A., Crocco, M., and Segall, A. (2018). Thinking deeply, thinking emotionally; how high school students make sense of evidence. Theory & Research in Social Education. 46, 232-276. DOI 10.1080/00933104.2018.1425170

Kachel, D. (2015). The calamity of the disappearing school libraries. {Blog Post} Theconversation.com. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/the-calamity-of-the-disappearing-school-libraries-44498

Kong, S. (2014). Developing information literacy and critical thinking skills through domain knowledge learning in digital classrooms: An experience of practicing flipped classroom strategy. Computers & Education. 78, pp.160-173,  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2014.05.009

Kuhlthau, C., and Maniotes, L. (2010). Building guided inquiry teams for 21st century learners. ZZ School library monthly.  Volume 26: 5.

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. & Caspari, A. (2012). Guided inquiry design: A framework for inquiry in your school. Libraries Unlimited. USA.

Kuhthau, C., Maniotes, L., and Caspari, A. (2015). Guided inquiry: learning in the 21st century. 2nd Edition. Libraries unlimited, USA.

Lanning, S,. and Mallek, J. (2017). Factors influencing information literacy competency of college students. The Journal of Academic Librarianship. 43: 443-450.  DOI: 10.10.16/j.acalib.2017.07.005

Lupton, M. (2014).  Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum v6, Access, November

Lofton, J. (2016) Students are makers! Building information literacy skills through makerspace programs. CSLA Journal.  40 (2). Retrieved from https://www.questia.com/magazine/1P3-4305515741/students-are-makers-building-information-literacy

Maniotes, L., and Kuhlthau, C. (2014). Making the shift. 43:2. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1045936

McGrew, S., Breakstone, J., Ortega, T., Smith, M., and Wineburg, S. (2018). Can students evaluate online sources? Learning from assessments of civic online reasoning. Theory & Research in Social Education. 46, 165-193, DOI 10.1080/00933104.2017.1416320

Qayyum, M., &  Smith, David. (2018). Changing research behaviours of university students with progression through a course. Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association. 67: 3 pp256-277 DOI: 10.1080/24750158.2018.1502243

Ricaurte, P. (2016). Pedagogies for the open knowledge society. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education. 13:32 DOI: 10.1186/s41239-016-0033-y

Thomas, J., Barraket, J., Wilson, C., Cook, K., Louie, Y., Holcombe-James, I., Ewing, S., and MacDonald, T. (2018). Measuring Australia’s Digital Divide: The Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2018. RMIT University, Melbourne, DOI: https://doi.org/10.25916/5b594e4475a00

Trombetta, S. (2017). 17 quotes that prove librarians are the best. Bookbub. Retrieved from https://www.bookbub.com/blog/2017/01/19/quotes-about-how-much-we-love-librarians

 

 

Convergence – Module 5.4b

How is digital citizenship approached in your school or experience?

TukTukDesign / Pixabay

Digital literacy was only recently implemented with the year 7’s.  Last year I ran a few HASS classes with the then Yr 7’s and realised that they were absolutely incapable of doing very simple tasks such as saving documents, referencing with more than URLs, uploading documents and even using MS word.  I was flabbergasted. So I set up a formative assessment task with a rubric to see what the students were capable of doing and then present that information to the AP for teaching and learning. I used the general capabilities continuum, specifically the ICT and CCT components; and used the stages of the continuum as benchmarks to assess the students. The task showed me that nearly ⅔ of the year 7 students from last year were unable to do very simple tasks and were averaging at a year 4 level.  Their information literacy was minimal!! The ramifications of this information were immense. How were these students going to progress through high school and complete their educational tasks sufficiently if their baseline was so low? How were they going to be active and informed citizens? How did these students get this way after being mostly at BYOD schools? And, how did we miss this?

Most of the teachers assumed a basic level of digital literacy and citizenship due to the ‘digital native’ tag.  After all, these students were adept at using youtube, playing music, taking photos and using Snapchat! There are also expert at hiding their screens when teachers are nearby, and consummate at switching screens when caught out!

The upshot of my assessment of last years Yr 7s is that there is active interest in embedding ICT and the GC within the curriculum.  I am in the process of re-writing the Year 7, 8 and 11 RE units of work to make sure that ICT and CCT are appropriately addressed and assessed.  As there is no explicit curriculum for RE, I have free range to make it skills based and use inquiry to teach the content. The only problem I am having is with some of the teachers that are disagreeing with my approach.  Luckily I have permanency and am willing to take the risk.

Has the school in which you work (or know best) developed an information literacy policy?

My school is currently in the process of implementing an information literacy policy. My colleague is writing it in collaboration with the AP of teaching and learning.  The plan is to align information literacies with the general capabilities continuum and then coordinate them to the year levels. The theory is that once we have the framework we are going to use it to implement the various aspects of across the stages and curriculum.

geralt / Pixabay

We are using a few of ANU policies as an end point for our framework.  Ideally we would like our students to be at this level by the end of year 12 so we thought if that is the goal then we can use the ‘backwards by design’ process and stage the levels backwards according to year levels.  I am using the framework that my colleague is writing as a basis for my work with RE.

These are the policies we are using to structure our framework on;

https://anulib.anu.edu.au/research-learn

https://services.anu.edu.au/files/FileManagement.pdf

https://services.anu.edu.au/files/AdvancedDigitalResearch.pdf

How is information literacy approached in your school or experience?

geralt / Pixabay

Information literacy is still currently a disorganised program.  Whilst some teachers implement aspects of it in their teaching and learning, there is no whole school approach to informational literacy.  In addition, there is limited true inquiry within our school. Granted there are a plethora of ‘research’ assignments that bore both students and teachers.  But real, true inquiry projects are missing. This is primarily due to teachers citing overcrowded curriculum and lack of time. But here in the ACT, there is such a large range of flexibility allowed with the national curriculum.  There is no need for so much explicit content instruction and rigid assessment tasks. Unfortunately, there is a strong cohort of teachers that persist in repeating the same teaching and learning activities that were taught from two decades ago.  The only difference is that students now present their tasks on MS Word and or a powerpoint. But by the same token, we have other teachers that inspire students to do their best within the parameters they have thrust upon them.

Module 5.3a – Information Literacy

How might the TL help the school move towards integrated information literacy instruction?

The change in societal expectations of students has meant that students need to have strong fluency in information literacy and the inclusion of inquiry learning within the curriculum was the ACARA’s response to this change.  Information literacy is cumulative and needs to be embedded across the curriculum and year levels. Unfortunately, information literacy is not integrated into the curriculum, but rather aspects of it can be found within some subjects and their inquiry strands.  This disjointed learning means that the skills that inquiry promotes are taught in a haphazard manner instead of being practiced in sequential and regular intervals. Information literacy is cumulative and thus requires it to be embedded across the KLAs and year levels rather than in ad hoc stand alone units (Lupton, 2014).  Therefore, IL needs to be part of the content, structure and sequence of learning.

Fitzgerald & Garrison (2017) reinforce that consistency is important and a school wide focus is important.  The central position of the library within a school allows a teacher librarian to have an holistic view of the school’s teaching and learning.  This holistic vision means that a TL is able to liaise and collaborate with their colleagues to implement a framework for inquiry learning within the school so that those essential skills can be practiced at regular intervals (Kuhlthau et al., 2015).  This framework, once designed by the TL, can be then adapted by the classroom teacher and or TL to suit the needs of the subject and or year level. As the keeper of the framework, the TL is also able to differentiate the scaffolding to suit the learning needs of the students in anticipation of the unit of work.

What challenges lie in the way of such instruction?

The biggest challenge for the implementation of inquiry units is time, or the lack of time.  The curriculum is already very crowded and with the prevalence of standardised testing and the emphasis on traditional assessments, there is insufficient time to properly run inquiry units at regular intervals.  Additionally, whilst inquiry units are popular in primary schools and in lower secondary, it is deemed less rigorous in senior years. This is a fallacy, but old habits often die hard. The other challenges for inquiry units are lack of collaboration within the teaching staff and reluctance for students to work in collaborative groups.  As mentioned in other posts, many teachers struggle to work collaboratively with their colleagues for numerous reasons. Teacher librarians are often excluded from curriculum planning and assessment design due to the presence of subject silos within schools. This inability to collaborate often leads to poorly designed and implemented guided inquiry units that fail to engage students and provide lacklustre results.  This inability for teachers to collaborate effectively is then often transferred to their reluctance to let students to work in similar groupings. Inquiry units are best done collaboratively as learning is enhanced when based within social constructs. These groups are often called inquiry circles or focus groups. Unfortunately some teachers are reluctant to have their students working in groups as they differ from the traditional classroom setting and upset their preferred teaching style.

How teacher librarians and teachers might encourage students to transfer information literacy skills and practices from one subject to another?

The library is often a neutral zone and utilised by all subject areas.  Therefore, students are able to view the TL as the ‘inquiry teacher’ regardless of the subject that the task is for.  This means that it is plausible that students would be able to transfer their skills in inquiry learning from one subject to another simply because the teacher teaching the subject has not changed.  Additionally, the TL is already aware of the learning needs of the students and thus can scaffold them appropriately. This scaffolding can be tailored individually to allow all students to participate to varying degrees.  Fitzgerald & Garrison (2017) point out that reflection within an inquiry unit forces students to contemplate their learning and ruminate on the processes they used to achieve their goal. This reflection helps students determine their strengths and weaknesses for future tasks and thus be more conscious of their learning. This cognisance of learning is an essential part of the process and can be used as feedback as well as determining the zone of proximal development (Fitzgerald & Garrison, 2017).

Doyle, A., (2019) The hard skills employers seek. The Balance Careers. Retrieved from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/what-are-hard-skills-2060829

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

Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L., & Caspari, A. (2015) GI: Learning in the 21st Century. 2nd editon, Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Lutheran Education Queensland (n.d.) Approaches to learning. Inquiry based learning. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1360/lutheran-education-queensland-inquiry-based-learning.pdf

McLeod, S., (2018) Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/piaget.html

Information literacy, education and elections

It is evident that literacy is an important skill for navigating life’s journey.  From a rudimentary age, reading and writing are methods in which people, including children learn to communicate their thoughts and ideas.  Naturally, oral communication is the first skill a child learns.  Why?  Well from personal experience and basic understanding of anthropology (I like the TV show Bones) …. I have learned that children are all masters of oral literacy.  Well, all my children were adept at saying “NO!” before they were toilet trained.  But aside from that unnecessary anecdotal story, literacy is more than just being able to read and write.

ACARA has clearly defined literacy as “Literacy involves students listening to, reading, viewing, speaking, writing and creating oral, print, visual and digital texts, and using and modifying language for different purposes in a range of contexts”.  Literacy is no longer just the domains of text.  It is a domain of skills.

In previous years, information literacy was sometimes known as information skills and or digital literacy.  But that shortened the scope of the term to just the mechanics of it rather than including associated behaviours and attitudes.

Some could argue that information literacy is restricted to the domain of academia and that the average person has no need of it.  Well after the debacle of yesterday’s election I can clearly say that the information literacy is sadly missing in Australian adults.

  1. Information literate individuals would realise that 70% of popular Australian media is owned by the same organisation that funds one of the political parties.
  2. Information literate individuals would also realise when there is bias
  3. Information literate individuals would realise that there is misinformation and how to identify it.

But we don’t live in an information literate world.  Information literacy is a life skill that everyone needs.  Otherwise, we doom ourselves, our nation and our future outcomes.

 

#note – I have very strong political leanings and I am not apologising for them.

 

 

Who am I? What do I do? – When an identity crisis occurs.

What do I do all day?

 

Just chillin – Courtesy of Pixabay

 

To my mother, I read books all day and tell people to shush!

 

To my husband, well he is only concerned that I am happy (and I can still manage my children’s school drop offs and pick ups).  Oh and there is no need for vacation care. Winning!!

 

To my children, mummy goes to work in a library and reads books and then comes home with more books all the time…. Oh and mummy is home in the holidays.

 

To my colleagues, I am that Energiser bunny that nabs you in the corridor asking to come into the library to work on your next task; the idjit that goes to departmental meetings and ‘volunteers’ to help with planning. I am also that nutter that gets over enthusiastic during Book week, Roald Dahl day, Harry Potter day, Jane Austen day

What’s your skill? This is mine.

 

To me.  Well, I am a teacher of information.  I teach students (and their teachers) how to find, seek, use and create information.  I find resources that support the curriculum and wellbeing of my students. I teach students how evaluate their sources, protect themselves online, be aware of the legislation around copyright and academic integrity. I help students and teachers in their teaching and learning by co-creating units of work that promote critical thinking and reflection.  I create lesson plans and collate resources to commemorate special events such as Reconciliation week, Anzac Day, Eid, Diwali and Samhain.

Each teacher librarian will have different priorities depending on the school they are attached to and the personality they were born with.  Some TL are brilliant at curriculum planning and get heavily involved with the co-creation of units. Other TLs are great collaborators and involve themselves with the teaching and learning aspect.  Some TLs are fantastic at resource collection management and development. Their collections are constantly evolving with the community’s needs. Each TL’s practice will differ from the TL next to them, the one down the street, the next suburb, or interstate.  That’s the beauty within the practice of teaching. Each practice is unique as it is the individual’s interpretation and implementation of the teaching standards that leads to such distinctiveness.

Each teacher, in their own sphere has an impact on their students, peers and community.  Individually we cannot change the world, but we can change the experiences of the people around us.  We can change how our students learn about internet safety, about how to use online information ethically.  We can teach the skills to differentiate fake news from real news (and in an election week… OMG!). We can show them how to seek, identify, use and create information that is meaningful to them and others.

How we do it will vary… but the point is that teacher librarians are trained and equipped to teach others the skills to survive and thrive in an information society. 

We can show the next generation how to become active citizens in this digital world. 

Guided Inquiry Design – An analysis

The world is changing before our eyes.  I have previously expounded upon Information society and the literacy that is required in order to engage with this new society, so will not go on about that now.  As teachers we can see the declining literacy ability of our students. We can see their lack of engagement and motivation. We know that this disengagement and apathy leads to poor behaviour within the classroom and consequently, poor life choices externally.  Many students fall through this gap, citing boredom and disconnection to the school paradigm. This is even more true for low achieving students and or students in low socio-economic zones, where education is paramount to break generational cycles of dysfunction.  Some schools focus their teaching and learning to address standardised testing (Kuhlthau et al., 2015). Whilst those schools may test high, their students struggle to translate their learning to an out of school context. As teachers we are frustrated and hamstrung by the politics of school.  

Guided inquiry is a method of teaching and learning that has changed how students learn.  Rather than a behaviourist method with stand alone teacher, GI promotes a constructivist team approach to teaching practices (Garrison & FitzGerald, 2016).  This style of pedagogy promotes students to gain a deep understanding of the curriculum content and learn valuable skills in the process (Kuhlthau et al., 2015).  The benefit is its fluid nature and this allows a flexible approach to learning which can be applied for all abilities and styles, as it seeks to explicitly teach skills rather than content.  This is simply because skills are transferable and therefore of a higher value to both students and teachers. After all, in this information age, everyone can find out anything, provided they have the skills to do so.

A guided inquiry teaching and learning activity is designed to engage students in the content using their own intrinsic motivation (Maniotes, 2019).  By utilising the 3rd space of learning, teachers can challenge students to connect to the curriculum content. This connection, based upon a constructivist ideology, allows students to question, explore and formulate new ideas based upon their own knowledge and perceptions (Kuhlthau et al., 2015, p.4).  The learning itself is involves students finding and using a variety of information, to address an aspect of the content through an inquiry approach.  During this process, students pose questions, make decisions, develop areas of expertise and learn life long skills (Kuhlthau et al., 2015, p4). As an educator there are two steps to GI.  The first step is to apply the GI design framework when creating units of inquiry.  These units incorporate curriculum content, literacy goals and information literacy concepts (Kuhlthau et.al,, 2015) and have specific learning goals as well as skills that will be addressed during the activity.  The second step is to guide students through this learning with interventions, assessments and strategies (Kuhthau et al, 2015).  It is quite common for teachers to explicitly teach ‘just in time’ skills during this process as teaching them any earlier usually has less relevance to them (Maniotes, 2019).

There are seven stages in GID unit.  The stages go from an introduction phase through immersive, gathering, creative and sharing.  As students progress through these stages they develop a whole range of skills and undergo a variety of emotional stress.  It is this emotional stress and achievement over stress that assists with overall competence and self esteem. This figure shows the changing affective stages of an inquiry task.

Inquiry learning has many forms including project based learning; blended learning, International Baccalaureate programs and expeditionary learning.  In Australia there are several IL models including Herring’s 2004 PLUS, NSW information search process, Newman’s 2014 iLEARN and Big6. But the superior form of inquiry learning is Guided inquiry design as it has a research based framework to substantiate its method of practice and the design understands the importance of affect in student behaviour.  This affect is important to understand as it indicates to educators where motivation is and where guiding becomes important.

Whilst students are guided through the project, they get to pose their own question and explore ideas.  This posing of question, is formulated from their own experiences, reflection and understanding. It acknowledges their learning is valid and promotes self esteem and self efficacy.  Guidance can be tailored to individual students needs thus allowing for differentiation. As this process is a collaborative, students work with their peers in creating and investigating together.  This sense of ownership and accomplishment leads to independence, expertise and competence (Kuhthau et al., 2015). Unfortunately, like all skills based learning, regular practice is required to maintain competency. Kong (2014) points out that classroom integration of IL leads to an increase in competency.  Therefore, GI needs to be part of the learning and teaching across all grades and curriculum. It cannot be taught as a single subject in an ad hoc method as information literacy is cumulative (Lupton, 2014).

One of the many positives of Inquiry learning is that it promotes critical thinking skills (CCT).  CCT, as part of the Australian curriculum’s general capabilities, needs to be embedded in teaching and learning practices.  These skills are essential for participation in modern society. Within inquiry learning – CCT assists students in five major components.  Curriculum content, information literacy, learning how to learn, literacy competence and social skills (Kuhlthau and Maniotes, 2010, p.19; Kong, 2014, p.2).  All these skills are interwoven throughout the whole activity and an educator can choose which skill to assess at any given time.

The other interesting aspect of GI design unit is that the task comes halfway into the unit.  Unlike current pedagogical practices where students get given a summative task at the beginning of the unit and then ‘do what is necessary’ and submit it a few weeks later.  Inquiry tasks take students on an exploration of the unit. They are immersed in the unit of work either with field trips or excursions. They browse broadly among the literature, gaining various perspectives BEFORE the question is even posed.  This means that when the question is posed by the student is truly authentic (Maniotes & Kuhlthau, 2014). It comes from what they DON’T know about a topic, rather than a regurgitation of facts. This process forces student to engage with the unit of work or they simply become mired in an information overload.  This information overload occurs commonly outside school, where adults of all backgrounds, refuse to participate with something because they do not know or understand it. GI teaches students how to persevere and understand what the information is saying.

Collaboration is key to guided inquiry for both teachers and students.  As the creation and implementation of GI units is multifaceted and complex, a team of teachers is required (Kuhlthau & Maniotes 2010). Ideally, this unit has three teachers co-creating the unit with additional experts involved as required. This team approach has the benefit of collaborative learning, in that many minds are better than one.  It also models to students how collaboration occurs in the workspace. Students use the teaching team as role models for their interactions with their peers. These interpersonal skills are essential.

Figure -1 – KUHLTHAU, MANIOTES, CASPARI, 2012

The genius behind GI is that it is based up the information search process model which compares feelings, thoughts and actions  of students as they progress through the unit. This understanding of student’s behaviour is of great insight to the educator. Teachers can predict when students are suffering from confusion and doubt and assist them in finding their way.  I am musing if Marcia’s work on Erik Erikson’s theory of identity development is related to this process. After all, Erikson’s theory about adolescents facing moments of crisis and their response to the crisis shapes their identity. So theoretically, students who have their moment of crisis during an inquiry task move through to identity achievement, in that they have made a commitment to a value or role (David, 2014).  Then once they have formulated a question or concept, students feel a sense of confidence, a sense of purpose. This sense of purpose and confidence translates to other aspects of learning and thus builds self efficacy.

The problem with the Australian curriculum is that IL is not embedded within and across the curriculum in all KLAs.  Information literacy is cumulative. To have an IL education, sustainable development is required across all years and areas of study.  It is should be part of the content, structure and sequence of learning; and definitely not the outcome of a single subject (Lupton, 2014).    There has been some attempt by Bonanno & Fitgerald (2014) to map the Australian curriculum to the Guided inquiry design by Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari (2012).  The scope and sequence suggests the introduction of inquiry skills, which could be adapted throughout the curriculum. Lupton (2014) correctly surmised that inquiry strands are only currently within science, history and geography KLAs.  Whereas Bonanno & Fitzgerald (2014) try to extend those skills in different areas of the curriculum. This is definitely possible as these ‘skills’ are transferable and there is no reason why one can pose a question in History that leads to an insightful understanding of the unit, but cannot do the same in math.  

In summary, GI units of work are designed with the student in mind. They are student centred and place the onus of learning upon the student rather than the teacher.  This is a seismic shift in pedagogy from a behaviourist to constructivist perspective. Students will engage with content if it is in their third space.  They will commit to a task if they have a vested interest in the outcomes. They will learn more in collaborative groups. Mostly, they will work at their level of cognition and thus achieve a sense of accomplishment when the task is completed.  We talk a great deal about student centred learning, about making the student the centre of the pedagogy. Well… lets just do it then.

 

Bonanno, K. with Fitzgerald, L. (2014) F-10 inquiry skills scope and sequence, and F-10 core skills and tools. Eduwebinar Pty Ltd.

David,  L., (2014) “Identity Status Theory (Marcia),” in Learning Theories.  Retrieved from https://www.learning-theories.com/identity-status-theory-marcia.html.

 

Garrison, K., and FitzGerald, L., (2016) ‘It’s like stickers in your brain’: Using the guided inquiry process to support lifelong learning skills in an Australian school library.  A school library built for the digital age.

 

Kuhlthau, C., and Maniotes, L., (2010) Building guided inquiry teams for 21st century learners. ZZ School library monthly.  Volume 26: 5.

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. & Caspari, A. (2012) Guided inquiry design: A framework for inquiry in your school. Libraries Unlimited.

Kuhthau, C., Maniotes, L., and Caspari, A., (2015) Guided inquiry: learning in the 21st century. 2nd Edition. Libraries unlimited, USA.

Maniotes, L., and Kuhlthau, C., (2014) Making the shift. Volume 43:2.

Lupton, M.(2014)  Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum v6, Access, November

Maniotes, L., (2019) Guided Inquiry Design: Creating curious inquirers. SYBA Academy workshop. Sydney

Walton, G., Cleland, J., (2016) Information literacy. Empowerment or reproduction in practice? A discourse analysis approach. Journal of Documentation, Vol. 73 Issue: 4, pp.582-594, https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-04-2015-0048

Digital literacy and its impact on pedagogy and the role of a TL.

The world’s economy has evolved with the transfer from production lines to one structured upon the creation and dissemination of information.  This era has been revolutionised by the ubiquitous presence of the internet and the speed in which it is generated. Combined with rapidly evolving technology; access, use and production of information is easier.  The education sector has been particularly affected by this insurgence of documentation and the skill sets required to seek, harness and use information successfully. This essay will define digital literacy and its pivotal role in information seeking behaviour trend of adolescents, its impact on educational practices and the role of the teacher librarian in this knowledge society.

Literacy has evolved from simply being able to read and write in text form into something more dynamic.  ACARA (2016a) has expanded the definition to include; the ability to interact with, engage and use language across modalities for a variety of purposes and a diversity of contexts.  In this knowledge rich society, information is available in multiple formats and can be often simultaneously engaged with (Jacobson et al., 2018). Therefore, digital literacy (DL) is the ability to appreciate the need for; the expertise to access; the capacity to evaluate, use and integrate information within the school environment and in general society (Lofton, 2016).   Thomas et al. (2018) acknowledge, even though access is widespread, individuals are grappling with the ability to use the new technologies in all areas of life (p.12).

The modern student is heavily reliant upon the internet for both information seeking and retrieval due to the widespread availability of mobile devices (McGrew et al., 2018, Mussell & Croft, 2013, Lanning & Mallek, 2017 and Mills & Angnakoon, 2015).   Teachers are often frustrated at student’s poor information seeking behaviour (ISB) and vexed by their blind dedication to Google and Wikipedia, despite a lifetime exposure to technology (Saunders et al., 2017).  The exasperation tends to peak at the student’s inability to successfully identify relevant and reliable resources online.  Unlike a library, where the librarian acts like a gatekeeper, the internet and thus everything on there, including unsubstantiated and vitriolic materials, are freely accessible.  Search engines are the most common starting point as students are familiar with their visual design, their mechanism and are viewed as fast and reliable (Lanning & Mallek, 2017; Qayyum & Smith, 2018 and Mussell & Croft, 2013).  Adolescents often base their entire study upon the virtue of Wikipedia and Google (Ricautre, 2016 and Qayyum & Smith 2018).  Wikipedia, as Ricautre (2016) elaborates, is built upon the concept of crowd-sourcing, as the public is encouraged to contribute information.  Whilst understandably these parameters allow for open dialogue and the precept of an open learning environment, it brings validity and accuracy of information presented into disrepute.

Google is an omnipresent search engine in modern society. Its pervasive presence has led to ‘google it’ often replacing ‘search for it’ in modern jargon.   Regrettably, as McGrew et al., (2018) point out, students determine the usefulness of a website based upon superficial points, such as the hierarchy of results displayed by Google.  Students fail to comprehend that Google, a corporation, controls results based upon an algorithm determined by the user’s own personal digital history (Ricautre, 2016).  In this way, Google ensures that the search results match closely to the user’s state of mind, previous search parameters and thus is more likely to be accepted (Ricautre 2016).  Some students do not even open up the individual sources but rather just peruse the content on the main search page and accept the information as correct without understanding context (Russell & Callegaro, 2019).   Other students rarely venture away from the initial website due to insufficient DL skills, so they accept information without verifying authenticity and or bias (McGrew et al., 2018). This creates a moral dilemma as they are willingly restricting access to information simply because it is easier.

The problems with students’ ISB are numerous.  Firstly, their techniques used to seek information are based most often on predetermined algorithms, ineffective search terms and minimum effort expended.  In order to cope with the overload of information available, students covertly reduce their search techniques so as to minimize the amount they are presented with (Qayyum & Smith, 2018).  Russell & Callegaro, (2019) point out correctly, that students place the whole query into the search bar and expect a complete response instantly, as there is an unwillingness to construct a bank of knowledge (Mussell & Croft 2013).  Qayyum & Smith (2018) corroborate, by suggesting that the speed in which the internet produces results prevents reflection of content. The DL skills of skimming and scanning cannot keep up with the flow of information and sources are rejected if not exactly correct.

Kobayashi (2018) found that whilst students preferred engaging with technology, they are unwilling to use advanced software and hardware, as they are unable to troubleshoot.  This self-censorship is due to an inability to interpret multimodal sources with a rich media presence (Head et al., 2018, p.4, Jacobson et al 2018; Kobayashi, 2018). This is especially true for students, who already have low literacy, as they often get overwhelmed by embedded multimedia, slowing comprehension (Kobayashi, 2018).  Other students find the layering of sources distracting which also slows cognition down. The majority of adolescents are unable to use search terms properly and when faced with an overwhelming number of sources, they simply use the first few and disregard the rest, despite the possibility of their importance (Mussell & Croft, 2013).  Their ability to navigate the internet is hampered by a lack of literacy and critical thinking skills.

Once students have managed to find sources they understand, they are unable to determine veracity.  McGrew et al., (2018), in their study, concluded that the pattern in which students investigate the reliability of a website is mainly determined by the visual appeal and seemingly professional appearance, whilst often disregarding the bias and or dubious authorship.  Jacobson et al (2018) argued that students are receptive to emotive language and the presence of speculative data was used as evidence of reliability (McGrew et al 2018). Students will also accept the reliability of sources if they subconsciously agree with the information and disregard sources that they disagree with, due to the challenges this new data imposes upon them (Jacobson et al 2018 and Russell & Callegaro 2019).   Even when presented with alternate sources, like databases, many preferred search engines due to the visual appeal and navigation ease (Lanning & Mallek, 2017, and Mussell & Croft, 2013). Shenton (2018) attributes this literacy to, in that students with lower literacy are often unable to decode more complex text and use familiarity of structure to determine reliability and rationality. In terms of DL, this ISB highlights a lack of critical thinking skills, as accessibility is preferred over validity, which is a significant issue for education and beyond.

The presence of the internet has forever changed how public policy and societal issues are addressed, and it is imperative that students are proficient at ISB so that they can do the same hereafter (McGrew et al., 2018 and Thomas et al., 2018).  DL is a citizenship issue and true democratic societies require the voter to be able to find reliable information, evaluate multiple perspectives and communicate their ideas on current issues (McGrew et al., 2018; Jacobson et al., 2018). If students are incapable of DL at school when investigating tasks simple and direct, then their ability to navigate for information on more controversial topics is hampered (McGrew et al., 2018).  This is particularly evident in an election year when society is bombarded multi-modally in an effort to persuade the voter. If one is unable to filter, understand and evaluate the information effectively, then the scope of information is greatly narrowed. One only has to look at the media about the upcoming federal election to realise how important DL is within society.

Modern pedagogy is shifting to a digital interface and it’s important that the DL skills are taught so that students and their teachers engage successfully (Jacobson et al., 2018 and Qayyum and Smith, 2018, p257).  As each generation learns to use, transfer and create knowledge in schools, it is logical that in schools, effort should be placed in establishing digital literacy and efficacious use of technology (Ricautre, 2016, McGrew et al., 2018; Berg, 2018).   A liberal attitude to DL by educational authorities will lead to an ineffectuality for critical thinking and targets for scammers such as the Nigerian scam that has played havoc within numerous households across Australia (ACCC, n.d.). It is evident that digital literacy is important in ISB beyond the classroom.

The dramatic change in ISB and budgetary squeeze has added pressure onto teacher librarians (TL) to adapt their roles to ensure their viability in the school context (Lamb, 2011, p.27).  This adaptation has redefined the role of the TL from an archivist and curator of knowledge, into facilitators of knowledge or information specialists, curriculum leaders, information management leaders (CC, ALIA & ASLA, 2016).  This facilitation ranges from the acquisition of materials that build a school collection, text and digital, and the implicit and explicit teaching of life long skills. From their central position within the library, a TL is able to view the school as a whole and identify and analyze learning holistically (ACT Directorate, n.d.).  As the information specialist and curator of knowledge, a TL is able to assist in building positive ISB by embedding DL through the curriculum (McGrew et al., 2018; Berg, 2018). In the instructional partner role, a TL can instigate various pedagogical practices to support teaching and learning via implicit and explicit actions. Implicit methods could be characterised by the presence of maker spaces within the library, embedding of skills into curriculum units, the inclusion of carefully curated resources that support learning, and explicitly via direct instruction and assessment of skills in tasks.  

Educators need to realise that DL is not independently discovered during research tasks but rather they need to be explicitly taught and then assessed to evaluate understanding (McGrew et al., 2018).  Explicitly teaching DL in collaboration with other staff, TL can assist students in improving their ISB across the school (Shenton, 2018). As technology is an augmentation of learning, regular pedagogy on DL can increase the confidence of students in their ability to use media rich resources for example Google Docs, OneDrive and Endnote (Ricautre, 201; Berg, 2018).  This increase in digital self-efficacy will allow students to engage with more diverse sources and improve their ability to troubleshoot any potential challenges (Kobayashi, 2017).   Makerspaces are an alternative, as they encourage students to be creative, collaborate, problem solve, research and experiment and challenge the student into higher order thinking (Lofton, 2016, p.18; Berg, 2018).  A TL is an ideal person to facilitate these activities, as they are curriculum leaders, and the information expert in the school (CC, ALIA & ASLA, 2016). They can support all forms of inquiry learning and research, by either explicitly teaching correct ISB, and or implicitly, by assisting colleagues in creating coursework and assessments with supporting resources and technology.

Another method is to teach alternate methods of ISB, such as the use of the library catalogue and databases (El-Khayat, 2016).  Mussell & Croft, (2013) determined that many students were unaware of the presence of catalogue and often made it synonymous with a database search. Saunders et al., (2017) and Qayyum & Smith, (2018 p259) advocate that the explicit teaching of search terms, synonyms, and key words is the most fundamental skill, as it is the underpinning concept that illustrates critical thinking and evaluation.  Shenton (2018) interestingly noted that whilst students can often be persuaded to use databases for educational goals, this does not extend elsewhere. There appears to be a dichotomy when it comes to obtaining information. This bears thought of where do these adolescents go to access information for personal or professional reasons? Unfortunately, Google and Wikipedia continue to be the main tools of information seeking, which in itself is fraught with complications.  McGrew et al., (2018) and Lanning & Mallek (2018) both propose that DL be a course that is explicitly taught and formally assessed as a unit of work.   Lanning & Mallek (2017) counsels DL in standardised tests to monitor student progress and the recent move by NAPLAN to online testing could be a step in the right direction in assessing DL skills as DL is pivotal to academic success (ACARA 2016a; ACARA 2016b). Lanning & Mallek (2018) surmises that this is due to the student’s reluctance to learn skills unless there is an assessment attached,  which is just an unfortunate testament to the current education system’ assessment focused approach.

Occasionally, teachers do forget that students can be ignorant of digital practice such as search terms or database availability (Qayyum & Smith, 2018, p259; Miller, 2018).  This is very common in schools with a transient student population. Instead of exhibiting frustration, a TL can use this opportunity as a refresher activity, to explicitly teach that particular skill to the entire cohort in collaboration with colleagues (Qayyum & Smith 2018 p259).  Teaching suggestions include rewording search terms into keywords, keeping extra tabs open in order to read broadly , and realising that the perfect answer rarely comes up within the first few responses (Russell & Callegaro, 2019; Berg, 2018). Head et al., (2018) suggests that teachers and teacher librarians are trusted to provide access to reliable sources by students even if they may not be (p27).  Consequently, teachers themselves need to be digitally literate in order to assist their students in their learning, which is why the presence of a qualified TL is paramount.

Budgetary constraints and a lack of understanding of digital literacy have led to many schools dispensing with a qualified TL and or the library itself (Wood, 2017).  This poses a great problem for students and their ability to engage with the digital world (Berg et al., 2018). Some argue that digital resources and new seeking software is so instinctive that it compensates for student inadequacies and librarians are unnecessary (Saunders et al., 2017).  But it seems impractical to depend on an algorithm and its superficial limitation of results. This is just censorship under an alias. Others suggest the pervasive mobile device does not warrant the cost of outfitting hardware. This is a fallacy, as mobile only users, individuals with a disability and ethnic minorities are sub sections of society who are digitally disadvantaged (Thomas et al., 2018, p.16).  Mobile only users in particular are reluctant to engage in media rich practices as their device often does not have the speed and data allowance (Thomas et al., 2018 p.16). Considering the diversity within schools, the lack of a school library and TL is a clear affront to educational needs.

Students with low DL will have poor decision making skills due to an inability to filter, evaluate and critically analyse information (Berg 2018, Wood, 2017; Kachel, 2016).  This inefficacy with DL is further pronounced in lower socio-economic households where there are already hurdles due to lack of access, generational disadvantage and disability (DIIS, 2016; Thomas et al., 2018). The removal of libraries and teacher librarians infringe upon the freedom and right to access information (OIAC, N.D; UN, 1948).  Libraries seek to provide equity of access to students, and teacher librarians seek to provide self-efficacy in digital literacy to both students and teachers, for the successful navigation in this current knowledge society. The irony is that under legislation, prisons must have a library and a qualified librarian, but not schools (Kechel 2015, ALIA 2015; Bevan, 1984).

Digital literacy is essential and plays a vital role in ISB as the behaviour practiced in school is repeated in adulthood.  There is a strong correlation between low DL and poor ISB, which impacts pedagogical practices. The role of the TL in this changing information landscape, is to ensure that all students have access to information and have the ability to seek, use and share that information in a variety of formats.   In a world where there is a constant barrage of information, fake news interspersed with real news, a digitally illiterate citizen will be isolated, vulnerable and unable to self-advocate. They will be unable to participate wholly with this new society as an economic contributant. Access to the digital world is a necessity in modern times, as is the ability to navigate this information age.

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Russell, D,. and Callegaro, M., (2019, March 26) How to be a better web searcher: secrets from Google scientists. Scientific American Retrieved from https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/how-to-be-a-better-web-searcher-secrets-from-google-scientists/

Saunders, L., Severyn, J., and Caron, J., (2017) Don’t they teach that in high school? Examining the high school to college information literacy gap. Library & Information Science Research. 39: 276-283. DOI 10.1016/j.lisr.2017.11.006

Shenton, A., (2018) Reading in information behaviour and information literacy frameworks. Collection and Curation. 37:2. Pp6-64. DOI 10.1108/CC-04-2017-0013

Thomas, J., Barraket, J., Wilson, C., Cook, K., Louie, Y., Holcombe-James, I., Ewing, S., and MacDonald, T., (2018) Measuring Australia’s Digital Divide: The Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2018. RMIT University, Melbourne, DOI: https://doi.org/10.25916/5b594e4475a00

United Nations (1948) Human Rights Charter. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

Wood, P., (2017) School libraries disappearing as as the digital age is over. ABC News.  Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-25/school-libraries-disappearing-as-the-digital-age-takes-over/8980464

Information Literacy – 21st Century skills

The fact we live in an information society will come to no surprise to anyone.  Our lives are constantly bombarded with information, some real, some fake, most of it tainted.  Active and informed citizens need to be literate in this information society in order to be able to differentiate between the facts and fallacies.  They need to be able to seek, identify, use, evaluate and create information in all formats; for economic, social, vocational and recreational purposes.  Governments and in turn education sectors, seek to ensure that the current and future generations of youth are equipped to deal with this information overload in the present and in the future (Kaplowitz, 2014; Kong, 2015).   Information literacy is the phrase used to describe this skill set.

Information literacy within education as described by Lloyd (2010) is often viewed as literacy in a digital format, with close association to searching, analysing and evaluation skill with information.  Kong (2015) describes it as a “mastery of necessary knowledge to identify a need for; seek, use, interpret and synthesise information” (p.2). But before we can progress too far, we need to clarify what information is?  Information is a separate entity and that it needs to be discoverable by an individual (Lloyd, 2010). Its format can vary from text, audio, oral and visual images; but the result is it is absorbed by the brain and converted to information.  These groupings of data, now identified as information, are available to be discovered and made sense of by an individual’s cognition power. The process in which information is identified, collated, synthesised and comprehended can be assessed using benchmarks as a guide.  These benchmarks are most commonly known as rubrics, which place results on a continuum of learning.

 

A information literate person would have competency due to their cognitive approach.  This approach ensures that competency is achieved in knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes; which correlate to literacy standards (Lloyd, 2010).  As competency is achieved through multiple applications, the assumption is that once students are unconsciously competent in information literacy, they are able to transfer those skills outside the classroom.  This need for literacy to be transferable to life outside school means that information literacy needs to be embedded across the curriculum and year levels. It cannot be the outcome of a single subject or taught in an ad hoc manner as this is a cumulative process.

 

The other important aspect of information literacy is that it is collaborative (Lloyd, 2010).  Many educators would agree that learning is a social construct, as the collaborative gain of ideas far outweigh a single person’s cognitive strength.  This need to collaborate means that students are learning interpersonal and communicative skills at the same time as they are investigating. This holistic style of learning seeks to fulfil the emotional affect and cognitive strength of an individual.  

 

Kaplowitz, J., (2014) Designing information literacy instruction: the teaching tripod approach. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN : 9780810885851. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/csuau/reader.action?docID=1687304&ppg=6

Llyod, A., (2010) Chapter: 6 Landscapes of information literacy. Information literacy landscapes. Elseview.  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-1-84334-507-7.50006-9

Curriculum Conundrums – Module 4.3

Curriculum can be broadly defined as the academic content taught within the education system.  In Australia, the National curriculum is three dimensional and covers eight content areas, three cross curriculum priorities and seven skills sectors (ACARA, n.d.).  This national framework is broadly defined and whilst some states have set syllabi that clearly delineate what needs to be taught, others have more freedom in the manner in which the learning outcomes are addressed.  As this method of delivery is diverse, curriculum implementation falls down to state governance and individual schools to develop and create a plan that clearly outlines the teaching and learning, whilst respecting the values and ethics of the school and its community.

 The purpose of schooling is detailed within a curriculum and as a result its strength and veracity will directly affect student learning potential (VCAA, 2015, p.6). Meritorious curricula are cohesive and contain connected units of work that build upon a student learning.  It is not an ad hoc system of disconnected and repetitious units, as that leads to student disengagement and teacher angst. A teacher librarian is a witness to all that occurs within a school and from this centralised position, are able to see the teaching and learning from a whole school approach.

 The role of a TL can affect curriculum planning in a variety of ways but the four main ways are; facilitating multidisciplinary units of work; creating LibGuides for individual classes, year levels and or units of work; embedding information literacy within the curriculum and explicit instruction.  Lastly, ensuring that the school collection supports the teaching and learning practices of the school. In the first place, a TL can facilitate conversations between departments to broach a collaborative unit of work. An example would be, negotiating RE, HASS and Science to address a Sustainability unit from a triple prong approach for a deeper and more holistic learning experience, rather than just superficially addressing aspects in three separate subjects.  Real world scenarios are multidisciplinary and it is frustrating to pigeon hole learning into subject areas and be unable to fully experience the scope the unit. Secondly, a TL can use LibGuides as a method in which to curate and organise resources to specific classes, subjects and topic guides. By being involved in the planning stages, a TL can create these LibGuides in anticipation of the units and thus eliminate late and often disruptive requests for resourcing.

 TL are information experts as well as teaching practitioners.  Their mastery of information seeking behaviour allows them to embed information literacy skills within the curriculum with ease using their knowledge of pedagogy.  With the current information overload, students need to be fluent in information literacy and TL can work with classroom teachers to explicitly teach these essential skills.  Some schools and TL are working collaboratively to construct a ICT and CCT skill progression framework that will allow students to build upon their current knowledge in a logical manner.  Other TL and schools seek methods in which to assess these skills in various formative formats along the inquiry pathway so as to provide useful feedback. The national curriculum is explicit upon the needs to integrate the general capabilities and a TL’s expertise is definitely a benefit in the planning stage.  As practitioners, a TL is able to explicitly teach these skills in discrete lessons in a team teaching scenario and or in a consultant role. Finally, when a TL is involved with planning, they can ensure that the school collection is able to support the teaching and learning. Many school budgets are constrained and a TL present in the planning is aware of what the school has currently available and can suggest or recommend resources that are already part of the collection in order to buttress the curriculum judiciously.  This is even more important in a digital age when subscriptions and licencing becomes an issue should multiple e-book titles be necessary to support a differentiated learning.

 TLs have been emerging as co-creators and designers of inquiry learning within schools for a long time.  The somewhat recent inclusion of guided inquiry into the national curriculum has increased the importance of well designed inquiry units for teaching and learning.  In collaboration with classroom teachers, TL can assist with designing and resourcing these inquiry units across the school. As an essential phase of inquiry learning requires the student to immerse and explore their task.  This immersion and exploration can involved a variety of digital and authentic experiences, which include incursions, excursions, VR and widespread information collation. A TL is often the one that assists with this access to information by providing a few resources as a scaffold or explicitly teaching information literacy skills.  These skills are essential students then seek information to answer their question. Education NSW (2016) is explicit in their policy in that a TL is a member of the “teaching staff and as such is actively involved in collaborative teaching and learning, school curriculum planning and program development”. The policy also is clear that TL are required to assist with planning, implementing and evaluating the curriculum at a school.  Therefore, NSW public schools are required to have their TL part of their planning and programming. In this token, principals should be allocating planning time to teachers so that they can fulfill the parameters of their position. Whether this mandate is applicable across the states and territories is unknown but the NSW policy definitely sets a valid precedent. It now only is up to principals to ensure that planning and curriculum days during professional development week is actually for planning and not filled up with unnecessary meetings and emails.

 Schools that use a collaborative approach with planning have the expertise of an information teacher at the table.   Like other speciality teachers within a school, a TL is an information teacher and that title encompassess a wide scope of knowledge and mastery of information seeking behaviour.  It is this mastery and unconscious competence that allows the TL to see the unit of work beyond the content and place the skills on the learning continuum. Schools that promote collaborative curriculum planning harness this knowledge and use this collective strength to create units of work that extend the mind and build upon those important life long skills.   The absence of a TL within curriculum development is detrimental to student learning. TLs are essential to curriculum planning for multiple reasons, especially their skill in information literacy and wide curriculum knowledge. Their skills in information seeking behaviour are essential in this digital age of misinformation and their unconscious competence in this field means that they are able to create units of work that are beyond the scope of most classroom teachers.  Whilst these skills are important for all students, they are essential for students from lower socio-economic households where there is already a digital divide (DIIS, 2016).

 

Curriculum planning ideally should be a collaborative effort and include all teachers and their disciplines.  The intentional exclusion of the TL seems foolhardy as there is ample evidence illustrating their positive effect on learning outcomes.  But unless a TL is willing to advocate their place at the table then it is unlikely an invitation will be issued.

 

References

 

ACARA (n.d.) Structure of Australian Curriculum; F-10. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/structure/

 ACARA (n.d.b) History Inquiry. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/Search/?q=history%20inquiry

 DET Victoria (n.d. ) Curriculum Planning. Retrieved from https://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/practice/Pages/curriculum.aspx

 Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (2016). Australia’s digital economy update. Retrieved from https://apo.org.au/sites/default/files/resource-files/2016/05/apo-nid66202-1210631.

 Education NSW (2016) School library policy. Retrieved from https://education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library/policies/library-policy-schools?refid=285831

 Lutheran Education Queensland (n.d) Approaches to learning. Inquiry based learning.  Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1360/lutheran-education-queensland-inquiry-based-learning.pdf

 Softlink International (n.d.) The ongoing importance of school libraries.  Retrieved from https://www.softlinkint.com/downloads/The_Ongoing_Importance_of_School_Libraries.pdf

VCAA (2015) Victorian Curriculum; Foundation – Year 10; Revised curriculum planning and reporting guidelines. Retrieved from https://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Documents/viccurric/RevisedF-10CurriculumPlanningReportingGuidelines.pdf