Results of Data Analysis and Interpretation of Results (Questions 4-7)

What student’s found both easy and hard throughout the ISP (Q #4 and #5)

[Figure 1] – Number of Group Responses 

Question 4 & 5 student responses related to information location, evaluation and use, and were analysed during the ILA to determine whether the students needed assistance and instruction during the inquiry process (Kuhlthau et al, 2007). The responses were collated under the ACARA Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT) and Information Communication Technology (ICT) General Capabilities (ACARA, 2012) as well as the Year 6 History Content Descriptions (ACARA, 2012).  Overall, the responses from each question mirrored the other. What one felt was easy, another felt was hard.

[Figure 2] – Aspects of research students found easy 

[Figure 3] – More detailed aspects of research students found easy – Survey 1, 2 and 3 

Figure 2 shows that initially a majority of students said using a particular search engine was easy. For example, that they used Google, Bing or Wikipedia. By the end of the ILA, more students found researching and finding information easier than at the beginning (see Figure 3). They also began to find trustworthy websites easier and searching also became easier. By the end, not one student mentioned reading as the easiest as their focus was now elsewhere in the research process.

[Figure 4] – Aspects of research students found hard

[Figure 5]- More detailed aspects of research students found hard – Survey 1, 2 and 3

Figure 4 shows that initially a majority of students found finding appropriate websites and information difficult, but by the end, research (in general) was difficult as they realised how much information was out there and that there are many different ways to interpret what people say. Finding the answers was initially hard for a lot of the students. But by the end this was no longer a priority and the research itself became more important (but still hard)(see Figure 5). These findings reflect what Kuhlthau et al (2007, p 133) describes about inquiry. It is an approach to learning that involves students not simply answering questions and getting the right answer, but finding and using a variety of sources of information and ideas to increase their understanding of a specific area of the curriculum.

ACARA Creative and Critical Thinking (CCT) Capabilities

[Figure 6] – Aspects of research students found easy and hard 

Overwhelming, a majority of the responses related to identifying and categorising information and choosing pertinent information. But it is also obvious that many indicators were not identified in any student responses (see Figure 6). Examples include, “drawing on evidence to formulate solutions to problems” and “prioritising ideas and select information to form a considered response to issue.” This data will be useful in informing future inquiry planning.

By the end of the ILA, what a majority of students found easy in their research was analysing a variety of information sources after having identified and categorised the information from these sources throughout the ILA. Initially there was a higher percentage of students who lacked an understanding of the topic and information found, compared to a much lower percentage by the end of the ILA. They continued to find, putting information into their own words difficult and some even started to find asking questions difficult.

Notably, one of the highest difficulties of seeking further information and identifying gaps in knowledge, occurred at the beginning of the inquiry before students were taught specific skills to develop research competency. These difficulties were significantly less in the second survey and hardly reported on at all by the third.

ACARA Information Communication Technology (ICT) Capabilities

[Figure 7] – Aspects of research students found easy and hard

Again, some of the indicators were not identified in any student responses (see Figure 7) . The greatest number of responses related to planning, locating, retrieving and organising information which was reflected in responses from what students found both easy and difficult across all three surveys.

Students began to assess and analyse the websites they found by the middle of the ILA, reflecting student progression of learning. Another group of students reported computer problems throughout the inquiry process but no complaints were reported as to the restrictions put on accessibility of websites.

ACARA Year 6 Content Descriptions – Historical Skills

[Figure 8] – Aspects of research students found easy and hard

Similar to the CCT General Capabilities (ACARA, 2012), the majority of responses describing what students found easy and difficult in the history content descriptions, related to identifying and locating a range of relevant sources and locating information related to inquiry questions from a range of sources (see Figure 8). The responses to the latter, in which students initially found more difficult, dropped off as the ILA progressed as the students no longer found these skills difficult.

Tracked Students experiences with Aspects of Research (Q #4 & #5)

Figures 9-14 illustrate the tracked students responses to questions 4 and 5. The data was gathered based on the ability levels of this group of eight students. Three high achievers (HA), three average achievers (AA) and two low achievers (LA).

[Figure 9] – Number of responses recorded by tracked students to Q4

Overall the number of ‘easy’ aspects of research recorded decreased depending on the ability level of the student (see Figure 9), which is to be expected.

 ACARA Creative and Critical Thinking (CCT) Capabilities

[Figure 10] – Aspect of research tracked students found easy

When data was collated under the CCT General Capabilities (ACARA, 2012), the ‘easy’ aspects of research were spread over four indicators for higher and lower achievers, whilst only three indicators were covered for AA (see Figure 10). This was not expected, until you look further at the LA data to discover that only two indicators were covered in the second survey and only one indicator in the third.  This may be due to a more significant area of research becoming more significant to the LA as the inquiry progressed.

ACARA Information Communication Technology (ICT) Capabilities

[Figure 11] – Aspect of research tracked students found easy

When data was collated under the ICT General Capabilities (ACARA, 2012), the ‘easy’ aspects of research were spread over two indicators for all ability levels, although one of the LA indicators differed from both the high and average achievers (see Figure 11). Their responses related to assessing the suitability of information whereas the LA responses related to how they used ICT effectively to record ideas. This was expected as the high and average achievers responses reflected a greater scope in understanding of inquiry process.

[Figure 12] – Number of responses recorded by tracked students to Q5

Unexpectedly, the number of ‘hard’ aspects of research recorded by LA was less than HA (see Figure 12).  This could be due to fact that there were fewer in number than other tracked ability groups. It was expected that the AA would record more responses than the HA.

ACARA Creative and Critical Thinking (CCT) Capabilities

[Figure 13] – Aspect of research tracked students found hard

When data was collated under the CCT General Capabilities (ACARA, 2012), the ‘hard’ aspects of research were spread over four indicators for AA, whilst only three indicators were covered for both high and low achievers (see Figure 13). At the beginning of the inquiry, the low and average achievers recorded difficulties in identifying gaps in knowledge whereas the HA recorded difficulties in paraphrasing information, which would be expected. But as the inquiry progressed, both the high and average achievers recorded a higher number of difficulties compared to the LA. This may be due to increased pressure they put on themselves, higher expectations or even their ability to articulate their understanding of the inquiry process.

ACARA Information Communication Technology (ICT) Capabilities

[Figure 14] – Aspect of research tracked students found hard

When data was collated under the ICT General Capabilities (ACARA, 2012), there was no obvious trend spread over all three ability groupings as to what they recorded as being the ‘hard’ aspects of research (see Figure 14). All three ability groups thoroughly covered the planning, locating, retrieving and organising indicator over all three surveys, which was to be expected. The AA only covered using ICT effectively to record ideas in the second survey, which was unexpected and the HA covered the assessment of suitability of information in the first and second survey, which was expected.

All data collated above, will be used to inform future inquiry planning. Next time I plan to decrease scaffolding of what students found easy, and increase scaffolding of what students found difficult.

Articulate what students (including tracked students) learned (Q #6) – Questionnaire 3 only

[Figure 15] – Group responses to Question 6

Questionnaire 3 (distributed at the end of the ILA) was the only survey to gather data about what the students learned doing the ILA. A majority of students took away factual knowledge, some students expressed their thoughts and feelings (Kuhlthau’s ISP) about their research process and others learned valuable skills in evaluating information, internet searching and work ethics (see Figure 15).

[Figure 16] – Tracked students responses to Question 6

Tracked students responses to Question 6 generally increased with ability level (see Figure 16). They recorded learnings such as helpful techniques for website evaluation, skills for independent learning and problem solving skills. Even the low achieving students recorded learnings of ways to select, evaluate and use information appropriately and effectively.

[Figure 17] – Sample of tracked students final interview responses 

[Figure 18] – Categories of student responses to Question 6 

The total group responses to Question 6 were categorised under the headings in Figure 18. I used these in preference to the CCT and ICT General Capabilities (ACARA, 2012) as many of the students responses did not relate to any of the indicators. As you can see a large percentage of the learning acquired by the students was based around fact-finding (62%). These results relate to the students interpretation of the inquiry and what they were expected to do throughout the inquiry. Next time, more intervention will be necessary to guide them through the inquiry to go beyond fact finding to draw conclusions for deeper learning (Kuhlthau et al, 2007).

  1. Steps in the Research Process – Only 2% of the responses made reference to the steps they took throughout the research process. One student expressed “How Miss Calabro helped us how we can do research”. In the future, a constant reminder to refer to the inquiry model shown and brainstorming charts may be necessary.
  2. Skills in Evaluating Information – Considering this was a major focus of the ILA, only 4% of responses is a poor representation. Some examples of these responses included, “Lots of complicated problems, information about immigration said on one website then another site would say something different. Needed to look at five different websites to find the correct information.” “Some websites don’t tell the truth. They just try to get you to buy stuff and some of them lie. You’ve got to check it with websites, look at at least two to check information.”  “Being able to use a website I can trust.” More intervention in guiding students in evaluating, sources and judging the usefulness of information.
  3. Implications of Research Process within Affective Domain – With reference to Kuhlthau’s ISP model (Kulthua et al, 2007), 6% of responses related to how the students felt throughout the inquiry. Overall, a majority of the students felt uncomfortable talking about their feelings, something they were not familiar having to express before from past learning experiences. Again, an area to give guidance in the future.
  4. Skills specific to internet search – 4% of responses made reference to searching skills, which was surprising considering this was also a major focus of the ILA. Students responded to this category in more detail in Question 4 and 5. A couple of students expressed how much an “advanced Google search” helped them with finding information.
  5. Implications of Research Process within Cognitive Domain – 8% of responses referred to asking questions, seeking answers and sharing their discoveries with others. A group of students expressed how their interest levels increased and they became more focused the deeper into the inquiry they progressed.
  6. Work Ethics – 8% of responses referred to how their attitude, behaviour, communication, interaction with others or independence changed over the duration of the inquiry as their confidence grew. Some examples include “Working with myself is easier.” “Sometimes people did cooperate good together, how they worked together and they used teamwork.”

[Figure 19] – Tracked students interview responses to improve learning in the future 

To assist me in future inquiries, I asked the tracked students, in a final interview, to pick out two of the categories in Figure 19 that would assist them next time in their learning and help them with their research. The data gathered in Figure 19 will be used as a starting point when I begin the next inquiry as well as taking into consideration students responses such as “Didn’t get much time, prefer to get more class time to come down to do it,” “Put more resources on Only 2 Clicks,” “People try to cooperate more with other people with websites they find,” “Sitting on a computer with me finding good websites” and “More time, more websites.”

How Students felt about the Research Process (Q #7) – Questionnaire 3 only

[Figure 20] – Students feelings about research

Overall, the students felt confident about their research by the end of the ILA (see Figure 20). Some were still a bit confused and would have liked some more time to gather and analyse more information.

[Figure 21] – Tracked students feelings about research

By the end of the ILA, LA students felt unhappy and confused about their research, whilst the average and high achievers felt happy and confident (see Figure 21). These results were expected. They realised that they weren’t the only ones to experience increased uncertainty and were relieved when others expressed the same feelings. They were then confident to push through to the formulation and collection stages of the ISP (Kuhlthau et al, 2007).  Figure 22 refers to this journey.

[Figure 22] – Tracked students feelings throughout the learning process

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (Ed.). (2012). Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability. Retrieved November 8, 2012, from The Australian Curriculum website: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Information-and-Communication-Technology-capability/Continuum

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (Ed.). (2012). Critical and creative thinking. Retrieved November 8, 2012, from The Australian Curriculum website: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Critical-and-creative-thinking/Continuum

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2012). History. Retrieved November 8, 2012, from The Australian Curriculum website: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/History/Curriculum/F-10

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: Center 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

Lupton, Mandy. (2012). Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum Access, 26 (2), 12-18.

Mead, M. (2010). Needles and Nuggets. Retrieved November 8, 2012, from The Pipe website: http://mariamead.wordpress.com

Student interviews 20-10-12 Final responses to inquiry

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