Information Analysis – How do I really know which sources to use?

A majority of the most relevant and reliable resources I have found throughout the expert searching process, for teaching ‘inquiry-based learning, upper primary SOSE’, came from Google. The resources I chose ranged from real world information learning activities (ILA) (Bertolini and Lucas et al, 2004), an educational website (Disney, 2004), other CLN650 blogs (Brand, 2011; Handley-Stuart, 2011 and Mead, 2010), a discussion board (Edutopia, 2012), an educational seminar paper (Scheffers, 2008), to a wiki (Gardner, 2011), an educational consultant’s website (Murdoch, 2010) and a Victorian unit of work (VCAA, 2010).

Throughout the initial stages of the process, and particularly when I searched in Google, I referred to Kuhlthau et al’s (2007) Concepts approach to information literacy, concepts for locating information as I became quite overwhelmed with the amount of resources available. I decided to select resources based around a list of pre-prepared questions. They included; was the source based around the general area of inquiry or was it based around the topic of inquiry-based learning? If yes to the latter, I then had to ask, can I extend the topic further and gain a better understanding? To achieve this, I narrowed the search (see Google searching post) and found fewer articles that had a more focused perspective of inquiry-based learning. I overlooked articles that only stated facts, as they were not quality inquiry resources, and articles that used only dot points, as they were not scholarly enough for my purposes. I also avoided sources that the librarian had indexed as inquiry learning in the identifier, as I decided that this was not as good a source as if the term had come up in the subject heading.

After selecting a large number of resources, I had the difficult task of evaluating them and deciding on the most useful. I again referred to Kuhlthau et al’s (2007) Concepts for evaluating information, and critiqued each source by analysing the format, the structure and the characteristics. I also asked the questions; is it clear and understandable, well written and articulate and is it organized in a purposeful way? The quality sources I chose had to be written by an expert, have accurate information and preferably be written between 2005 and 2012. Another characteristic that I took into consideration was awareness of the author’s perspective. Did the author present an opinion or position on the topic or was the author just presenting the facts? Evaluating the sources in this way opened my eyes, one that I will pass onto the students I teach throughout the information learning activity (ILA).

As I continued to delve further into Google, the more CLN650 blogs from previous years I stumbled upon and again became overwhelmed by ‘information overload’. Once more I referred to Kuhlthau et al’s (2007) Concepts for using information. As I viewed the blogs, I began to look for information that related to my purposes and I kept asking myself whether or not this information would help me accomplish what I set out to do and help me with what it is that I need to know. This strategy helped me formulate a focus on which to build my facts and argument. Throughout this step, I took as many notes as possible and recorded all of my references, while at the same time interpreting the facts I found for my learning.

My search continued through the more scholarly databases of Google Scholar (GS) and A+ Education. Here I found a variety of both quality and irrelevant sources. A majority of the A+ articles were suited to preservice teachers integrating SOSE into their classrooms (Collins, 2010; Collins, 2009; Tambyah, 2008). I chose Tambyah’s (2010) paper because she discusses the National History Curriculum rationale and how we (as teachers) now need to teach middle year students the skills of historical inquiry rather than content. I also chose Gordon because she discusses how to use three inquiry approaches in primary SOSE. The ProQuest database provided me with one scholarly article, Asselin (2001), who compares the scaffolding strategies of constructivist teachers and traditional teaching instruction during the research process and also mentions Kuhlthau’s guided inquiry approach. Unfortunately the ERIC database provided me with no quality sources.

Throughout this information learning whirlwind, I keep finding myself going back to perceiving information literacy through the Generic window of the GeST model (Bruce et al, 2010).     Unfortunately, I am now noticing these habits being reflected in the ILA I am partaking in with the students. Because of this, I am becoming more aware of how I can make changes and progress to the situated window and eventually even the transformative window. While searching through both GS and Google, my heart rate would rise when I discovered articles with real world examples of inquiry-based learning. They were resources that proved to me that ‘information literacy could be seen as arange of information practices used to transform oneself and society’ represented through the transformative window of the GeST model (Bruce et al, 2010). One example (Bertolini), explained how the students of Whitfield District Primary School decided to take on an inquiry-based learning project to carry out a biodiversity study of the polluted Jessie’s creek.

Throughout the Information Search Process (ISP) (Kuhlthau et al, 2007), I often wondered about the processes of learning I was employing in Churches’ (2008) Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy.      After analysing the categories in the taxonomy, I discovered I was using a wide variety of higher order thinking skills that I was unaware of at the time. As all levels in the taxonomy are crucial to learning, the majority of skills I was partaking in were in the remembering and understanding levels, something that I noticed happens to students as well. From the higher levels of the taxonomy, I have been using a majority of these skills through commenting, posting and presenting on my blog. Now I hope to pass these skills onto the students throughout the remainder of the ILA and hope that student learning will improve. I look forward to presenting these further findings in Blog Stage 2.

References

Asselin, M. (2001). Grade 6 Research Process Instruction: an observation study. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 47(2), 123-140.

Bertolini, A., Dr. (n.d.). Thinking Differently: Refocusing Education for the 21st Century [PDF]. Retrieved from http://detconferences.nsw.edu.au/documents/keynotes/eng/AdrianBertoliniKeynote.pdf

Bruce, C. & Lupton, M. (2010) Chapter 1: Windows on Information Literacy Worlds: Generic, Situated and Transformative Perspectives in Lloyd, Annemaree and Talja, Sanna. Practising information literacy: bringing theories of learning, practice and information literacy together.  Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies. pp. 3 – 27

Churches, A. (2008). Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. Retrieved September 7, 2012, from Educational Origami website: http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/Bloom%27s+Digital+Taxonomy

Collins, C. (2010). Thinking together about questions that matter in the SOSE classroom. Social Educator, 28(3), 4-10.

Collins, C. (2009). Opening disciplinary doors in Studies of Society and Environment: asking and answering ‘Guiding Ethical Questions’. Social Educator27(2), 5-12

Gordon, K. (n.d.). Inquiry Approaches in Primary Studies of Society and Environment Key Learning Area. In Education, Training and Curriculum Council (Comp.), Queensland School Curriculum Council (pp. 1-22).

Kuhlthau C., Maniotes L., Caspari A., (2007).  Guided Inquiry Learning in the 21st Century. London: Libraries Unlimited.

Tambyah, M. (2010, April 30). Teaching history in the middle school: building knowledge through skills [PDF]. Retrieved from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/34432/1/34432.pdf

Tambyah, M. (2008). Will they know enough? : Pre-service primary teachers’ knowledge base for teaching integrated social sciences. Australian journal of Teacher Education, 33(6), 44-60.

Tambyah, M. (2008). Content vs process: reflections on pre-service primary teachers’ approach to integrated social education. In Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE)(Comp.), AARE 2007 International education research conference: Fremantle : papers collection (pp. 1-21). Melbourne, VIC: P L Jeffrey.

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) (Ed.). (2010). SOSE – Immigration Unit Destination? Australia! [Word DOC]

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One Response to Information Analysis – How do I really know which sources to use?

  1. Trish says:

    I really enjoyed reading about your searching journey – the highs and lows 🙂 . I think the systematic way in which you approached it was a good idea and it sounds like it really helped you to stay focused and to sort through the resources.
    Your Blog stage 1 flowed really well and was easy to read through, it adhered to the scholarly writing requirements but was still ‘blog’ like. You presented a thorough documentation of your searches and the strategies you used to find the information you needed. The post was maybe a little long but I can see that you needed to make it longer to fit all your information in.

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