Track Topic Knowledge (Q #1) – Fact, Explanation and Conclusion Statements
What the SLIM Toolkit (Kulthau et al, 2005) suggests, is to look at the responses to Question 1 “What do you know about your topic” and code the statements made into facts, explanations and conclusions. Kuhlthua et al (2007, p 128) found that two distinct patterns emerged in the analysis of student’s responses – fact finding and synthesis (interpreting to determine what the facts mean). The more explanation and conclusion statements the students make, shows the development of intellectual qualities such as deeper knowledge and deeper understandings.
Similarly, Limberg (2000) found that the objective of the student determined how they approached the inquiry project, whether they thought it was a fact-finding exercise or understood they needed to reflect on the facts and come up with some ideas of their own about the topic of inquiry (draw conclusions for deeper learning).
Overall, the majority of students developed mainly factual knowledge throughout the ILA. You would expect students to record higher knowledge statements as the inquiry progresses, but this did not happen. The students recorded more facts, explanation and conclusion statements in the second questionnaire than in the third (see Figure 1). This happened because between the middle of the ILA and the end of the ILA, the students had a two week holiday period. They came back less interested and the motivation had declined.
[Figure 1] – Group totals of Facts, Explanation and Conclusion Statements
[Figure 2] – Progression of recorded Fact, Explanation and Conclusion Statements in a sample of three students
Figure 2 traces a sample of students whose development of fact, explanation and conclusion statements significantly increased in the middle of the ILA, but by the end, the content became slightly less detailed and defined. The interest was still apparent but the motivation had subsided due to the holiday period between the middle and end of the ILA.
[Figure 3] – Development of tracked students explanation statements
The intention of the ILA was to give the students the opportunity to ‘look beyond a fact-finding learning experience to begin to reflect on the facts they find and look for explanations and conclusions.’ (Kuhlthau et al, 2007 p 129). These students have clearly made connections and linked the facts as the number of explanation statements have significantly increased from the first survey to the last. Here is an example of a student explanation statement taken from the interview conducted at the end of the ILA.
“Immigration is when someone moves from their country because of war, poverty, natural disaster and other stuff and they move to a country to find freedom and stuff. You need lots of documents to move and if you move illegally you have to go back to your country and stuff.”
[Figure 4] – Development of tracked students conclusion statements
Similarly, in identifying the students who reflected on facts found and were able to draw conclusions, only two students demonstrated this ability (see Figure 4). Yet even then, it wasn’t until the final questionnaire that one of the students recorded a conclusion statement. Kuhlthau et al (2007, p 129) found that the students with the most explanation and conclusion statements in their responses showed stronger positive emotions at the projects’ completion when compared with students with more of a fact-finding pattern. Consistent with these findings, the tracked students interest remained high from the beginning to the end of the ILA. Here is an example of a student conclusion statement taken from the interview conducted at the end of the ILA.
“Immigration is about people coming to Australia and that there has been a heap more than there should be. It is not good for our country because that’s how people get violent.”
[Figure 5] Question 1 group totals
[Figure 6] Percentage of Question 1 group totals – Survey 1, 2 and 3
Figure 5 articulates what students knew about the topic based on data gathered from all three surveys. Across the group, unlike what Kuhlthau et al (2007) observed, factual statements were highest in the middle of the ILA rather than at the completion of the ILA, although explanation statements were consistent with the patterns observed by Kuhlthau et al (2007). Conclusion statements were also highest in the middle stages of the ILA after none were recorded at the beginning. Figure 5 also shows that some students considered that having knowledge about the topic, was rewording the original scenario. Figure 6 shows that by the end of the ILA, very few students knew nothing about the topic. Overall, the results from the data gathered are positive after taking into consideration that the sample group consisted of two classes of a total of fifty students.
[Figure 7] – Sample of SLIM student questionnaires
Students Level of Interest (Q #2)
[Figure 8] – Group interest in topic
[Figure 9] Percentage of group interest in topic – Survey 1, 2 and 3
Kuhlthau et al (2007, p 8) says motivation and interest are key elements in inquiry learning. Overall the interest in the topic was quite high and increased throughout the ILA (see Figure 8), which Kuhlthau (2007, p 18) explains is a ‘common occurrence for student’s beyond the formulation stage in the ISP. As they become more engaged and interested, they construct their own understandings. Active engagement is an essential requirement for ‘deep, lasting learning’.
[Figure 10] – Tracked students interest in the topic
Amongst the tracked students, the high achievers continually showed a higher interest in the topic (see Figure 10). One in particular, responded in the interview by saying “At the beginning I thought I was going to succeed really well because I knew a lot about immigration” and this interest and motivation continued throughout the ILA.
Students perceived level of topic knowledge (Q #3)
[Figure 11] – Group perceived level of topic knowledge
[Figure 12] – Percentage of group perceived level of topic knowledge – Survey 1,2 and 3
Students perceived level of topic knowledge generally increased over the duration of the ILA due to growing confidence and a sense of achievement (see Figure 11). The students whose level of topic knowledge decreased over time, acknowledged that they had difficulty accessing information. By the conclusion of the ILA, only one student admitted to knowing nothing (a significant decrease from 29.7% of the group at the beginning).
[Figure 13] – Tracked students perceived level of topic knowledge
Looking at the data in Figure 13, it appears that the average to high achievers can be more critical of themselves, resulting in more conservative responses. Kuhlthau et al (2007, p 140) acknowledges that student’s feelings have an equally significant impact on their approach to inquiry as their thoughts and their actions.
Kuhlthau, Carol C., Maniotes, Leslie K. and Caspari, Ann K. (2007). Guided Inquiry Learning in the 21st Century. London: Libraries Unlimited.
Kuhlthau, Carol C., Heinstrom, Jannica and Todd, Ross J. (2005). School Library Impact Measure (SLIM) : A Toolkit and Handbook For Tracking and Assessing Student Learning Outcomes Of Guided Inquiry Through the School Library. Rutgers University: Centre for International Scholarship in School Libraries.
Limberg, L. (2000). Is there a Relationship Between Information Seeking and Learning Outcomes? in C. Bruce and P. Candy (Eds.), Information literacy around the world : Advances in programs and research, Wagga Wagga: CIS, Charles Sturt University, pp.193-207
Mead, M. (2010). Needles and Nuggets. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from The Pipe website: http://mariamead.wordpress.com
Student interviews 20-10-12 Final responses to inquiry