Intervention during the ILA

How I contributed to the progression in student learning after Q1 and Q2

Kulthau et al (2007) suggests that ‘students gain competence in inquiry learning by being guided through the inquiry process by teams of teachers and librarians’. The strategies I used to assist the students, at the critical points in the inquiry where they needed this instruction to progress in their learning, included:

  • helping students develop research competency and subject knowledge
  • fostering cooperative learning, and
  • social skills     (Kuhlthau et al, 2007)

The classroom teachers and I discussed how we could model and encourage students to raise their own questions. A majority of students found this difficult except for a small group of students. They initiated self-generated topics of discussion that lead to increased engagement and by the end of the inquiry, this group showed a greater interest in the topic.

We also encouraged group collaboration, choice and conversation about the topic. Groupings consisted of pairs, individuals or small groups of 3-4, the choice of which was decided by the students in the initial stage of the inquiry. We also conducted whole class instruction and discussion sessions at times when the students began to lose interest and began to drift off task. Often this was due to a variety of distractions around them because they were working together in such a large group and in such a large space (the new spacious BER Resource Centre).

Based on Kuhlthau et al’s (2007) intervention for the ‘five kinds of learning’, we also encouraged fact-finding, interpretation of facts, locating of and evaluating resources, interaction with others and group cooperation.

Throughout the initial stages of the inquiry we gained an insight into the students prior knowledge of the topic by finding out what they already knew about the topic, how they were going to find out more about the topic and what they wanted to learn about the topic. A majority of the students chose to develop a mind map to organise their thoughts and ideas about the topic. We referred back to these views if and when the students became disheartened, confused or disinterested during the exploration stage of the information search process.

After conducting interviews at the end of the project, a sample of student expressed how I had assisted them in their learning.

  • “Miss Calabro helped us how we can do research.”
  • “Well it’s sometimes easy to access but you don’t really get through internet but was easy to find websites with Miss Calabro around. Thanks Miss Calabro for helping out.”
  • “Finding websites and downloading it to Only 2 Clicks, it was fun, especially with Miss Calabro’s help, that’s how it makes our work easier.”
  • “Find websites, put it in my own words and to get help from Miss Calabro.”
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ILA Methodology – The who, how and when of data analysis

The Who

Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Although the group I worked with consisted of two classes of 25 students operating in a team teaching environment, the sample group consisted of 40 students who completed all three SLIM questionnaires (Kuhlthau et al, 2005). Eight of these students were tracked against the group’s results, consisting of three boys and five girls. They were chosen to represent the range of ability levels in the group, from a mixture of low achievers, average achievers and high achievers.  I was hoping to observe whether or not their level of academic achievement impacted on their approach to inquiry.

The How and When

Throughout the ILA, experiential data was gathered through use of the SLIM questionnaires, observation of students throughout the lessons, photos taken of different learning styles and face-to-face interviews at the end of the ILA.  The three SLIM questionnaires were administered as follows:

Questionnaire #1 – Week 1: After introducing students to the topic and initiating their first brainstorming session.

Questionnaire #2 – Week 4: Many students were working in the exploration stage of the inquiry with a small group reaching the formulation stage of the search process where they began ‘centring their information gathering’ (Kuhlthau et al, 2007).

Questionnaire #3 – At the conclusion of the ILA (Week 7), after students had completed their recount to present to the Year 5 class.

Questionnaire 1 and 2 were identical, consisting of 5 questions requiring either short answer or multiple-choice responses.  Questionnaire 3 also contained an additional 2 questions requiring students to express what they had learned from undertaking this research project and how they felt about their research. Other data gathered through observation was used to help clarify the analysis of the SLIM questionnaires.


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.

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Group Feedback

Throughout this (if I may say, drawn out) feedback process, I completely agree with Maria Mead (2010) that it is a ‘valuable opportunity to try before you buy’. The positive feedback I was given by my peers was reassuring in that they said I had covered all required elements, they were impressed and I showed a  ‘depth of learning’ (through reading my reflection questionnaires). I also had the opportunity to look critically at the content and structure of my peer’s blog entries and at the same time trigger reflections about my own work. I benefited more from giving feedback than receiving it.

One incident in particular that comes to mind, after giving feedback to one of my group member’s, instigated discussion between us as to whether or not we had approached the information synthesis/analysis mini essay post in an appropriate manner. Asking Mandy for clarification, reassured us that we were both on track even though we had approached the post in different ways. I now realise that the way I approached the post, compared to others, proves that our thought processes (like that of students) are all unique in our own ways (poor Mandy for having to mark them all). This is why I believe giving and receiving feedback is such a crucial part of the inquiry process. I intend on using what I have learnt, from my experiences throughout this process, with my students to help teach them life long learning skills.

Kuhlthau’s Guided Inquiry (2007) supports this notion of a ‘community of learners’, where both an instructional team (including teacher librarians) and students learn together and from one another.

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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.


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

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:

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

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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Reflective Questionnaire 2 – How Things Have Changed

1. Take some time to think about your topic. Now write down what you know about it.

  • I have found out that the term inquiry-based learning has many synonyms – from guided inquiry, research based learning, project based learning, problem based learning and discovery learning to scientific method
  • Inquiry learning is based on the learning theory of constructivism where students build knowledge on what they already know by researching
  • Information literacy is embedded in inquiry learning
  • My eyes are open to the many and varied information literacy and inquiry models available. I love and am now modeling lessons around both the inquiry process and inquiry cycle models of inquiry as well as using the information process model of information literacy as a framework for students to engage and monitor where they are in the research process
  • All inquiry models are similar in that there are 6-7 steps involved in the process
  • Kuhlthau’s ISP model is the only model that includes feelings and is often an approach that is not used by teachers in the classroom
  • I am now observing, throughout the ISP, whether or not students themselves are questioning or whether teachers are giving students the questions to ask. Awareness of the various questioning frameworks has assisted me in making sure that the students are involved in making their own decisions and problem solving
  • Expert searching is the key to finding relevant, reliable and recent resources (the 4R’s). Using Boolean operators, quotation marks and synonyms are all essential strategies to use to produce the 4R’s
  • The GEST windows, as an information literacy model, helped explain the levels of inquiry based learning more clearly. My aim is for my students to move from the Generic window to as close to the Transformative window as possible by the end of the year

2. How interested are you in this topic? A great deal

3. How much do you know about this topic? Quite a bit

4. Thinking of your research so far – what did you find easy to do? Please mention as many things as you like.

  • Using Boolean operators and other key terms in a search box
  • Using the advanced search box
  • Using dates to find more recent articles
  • Using Google, Google Scholar and A+ Education
  • Finding relevant resources on inquiry-based learning
  • Evaluating a website or source by using the ‘about us’ tab, related articles and/or citations
  • Creating a list of references from each database at the same time the sources are found

5. Thinking of your research so far – what did you find difficult to do? Please mention as many things as you like.

  • Using ProQuest and ERIC
  • Knowing which of the key word synonyms are the most effective to use as search terms
  • Time management during searching. I got easily distracted and went off on a tangent when searching certain databases, especially Google
  • Narrowing my search was difficult at times, in particular for middle school/upper primary (Year 5-7)
  • Uploading the screen cast
  • Higher order processes (especially synthesizing and analysing), organising ideas and rewording

6. How do you feel about your research so far?  Confused – I don’t really know what I’m looking for

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Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP) – Where am I? How do I feel?

Wow, what a journey! My feelings, thoughts and actions have been fluctuating from exhilarating highs to intense lows, reminiscent of riding the rollercoaster at SeaWorld. At this point in my learning and throughout Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP), I can now agree with her and say that, “The advances in information technology (especially the iPad), that open access to a vast assortment of sources, have sometimes not really helped my research dilemma but may have intensified my sense of confusion and uncertainty. In the early stages, I became a bit overwhelmed with the feeling of finding ‘everything’ all at once.”

In the initial phase of the ISP, I felt overwhelmed and even a bit depressed about not knowing much about the journey that lay ahead of me. When I perused other people’s blogs, read the handbook and looked at the vast number of resources available, feelings of uncertainty and apprehension started to arise. Was I up to the challenge? Could I cope with working full-time while trying to put 100% into my study? Would I be able to comprehend the task at hand? Do I have enough prior experience and personal knowledge to cope in this situation? I then realized that I could make use of this opportunity to further my knowledge of teaching and learning as an excellent Teacher Librarian by ‘becoming thoroughly familiar with the information literacy and information needs, skills and interests of learners’ (ALIA/ASLA, 2004) within my school. Because of this, more positive thoughts entered my head (which was a high point on my rollercoaster ride).

Hence moving into the selection phase, I began to feel more optimistic as I realised there was hope. I had a full semester to gain more insight, skills and expertise in inquiry based learning by listening to lectures, reading articles and engaging in hours of exploration and expert searching. Although feelings of anxiety arose when I tried to work out which platform I was going to use for my blog. Even though WordPress had been suggested, I knew of other blog platforms that students could access in Education Queensland (EQ) schools. WordPress was not one of them. I took into consideration the time we had been allotted, the information that was available, my personal interest and more importantly, who was going to help me if I got stuck. I finally decided to go with the preferred platform and use WordPress. I believe my lecturer should know best! (another high point). Unfortunately, this feeling did not last much longer as the time came to choose a topic for my information learning activity (ILA). I started to feel scared and confused about what year I would work with and whether or not the teachers would let me teach the unit or would I have to observe only? I looked at the C2C units and what resources were available. I started asking questions and put my feelers out. I had been working earlier in the year with two Year 6 classes, so I felt less anxious approaching these teachers. As it turned out, I had nothing to be scared about as they were both very open about taking part in the ILA and they even suggested letting me take full control (with their assistance). Yeah! Another high point in my adventure.

At this point, at which the topic for the ILA was chosen, the class was decided and the inquiry had begun, my feelings turned from delight to frustration and discouragement overnight. The exploration phase, expert-searching 101, had begun. I was consumed by boolean operators, search terms, information overload, infinite resources, highlighting, note taking, reading, referencing, not to mention screen casting, and I became stressed, more confused and even started to doubt my abilities. Some of the resources I found were useful and were immediately added to the ‘bingo’ pile, whilst others seemed more inconsistent and incompatible for my needs, leading to even more frustration. There were many times I wanted to just throw it all in and walk away. This is when I discovered my ‘zone of intervention’ (Kuhlthau), that being the wonderful blogs from the CLN650 2010-2011 students. I had seen the light. They helped me understand the concept of ‘information overload’ as I realised that I was the only one who could make this task as easy or as hard as I wished. I decided to use only the resources that were relevant to me and that I could understand, and use only the sources that informed me about my topic so that I could form a personal point of view. Thanks again Kuhlthau.

After this hurdle, and to this particular point in the ISP, the formulation, collection and presentation phases feel like a piece of cake (although there is still a long road ahead). I feel relief that the information is now accumulated and it will continually be documented. I finally feel like I have some sort of direction. This process will continue throughout Blog Stage 2. The presentation of my findings has not only been fun and exciting but using the blog platform WordPress, has made me realise that there is a wide audience out there that is interested in what I have to say. This is a great way to share professional knowledge and learn from each other.


Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from

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

Kuhlthau, C. (n.d.). Information Search Process. Retrieved September 3, 2012, from Carol Collier Kuhlthau website:

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How do the databases A+ Education, ProQuest and ERIC really work?

 A+Education, ProQuest and ERIC (More scholarly, journal article databases)

After searching for hours using all 3 of these databases and the query terms ‘inquiry based learning’ AND primary AND SOSE (and a variety of synonyms thrown in amidst), many similarities in the way the databases searched for articles, became obvious to me.

  • When I used the Boolean operators AND and NOT, I narrowed my search, and when I used OR,  I broadened my search.


  • I could type query terms in separate search boxes connected by the AND, OR and NOT Boolean operators, but in the case of A+ Education, to make my search even more specific, I could use a compound search by copying and pasting all query terms together into search box 1, leaving the other search boxes available for additional query terms. Unlike A+ Education, I tried using a compound search in ProQuest, but found that my search broadened significantly, whereas in the ERIC database, compound searching made no difference to the results.
  • Also, by changing the database to search from ‘any field’ (which covers everything), to ‘in subject’ (subject headings only), the search narrowed considerably, especially using the search term SOSE. When I searched from ‘in title only’ for (Inquiry based learning AND inquiry AND information literacy) in the ERIC database, I found more specific articles, but in my particular case, not relevant for my needs.

A+ Education

A+ Education is based on the Australian Education Index (AEI), which is an ‘indexing and full text database that provides access to journal articles from published material on all aspects of education in Australia.’ When you use this database:

  • I didn’t have to use quotation marks ” ” as it searches for the exact phrase automatically
  • There is a great list of search tips (see image)
  • I could limit the search to full-text records only and specify a particular date range and found both Tambyah (2008) articles.
  • If the key word I was searching for was highlighted in the identifier (which has been indexed by a librarian), I found that this source may not have been as good as if the key word had been highlighted in the formal subject headings
  • Sometimes I found that a query term, like ‘inquiry based learning’, found in the abstract section of the record, showed up both with and without a hyphen, but when found in the identifier and subject sections, it always showed up without a hyphen
  • I could broaden my search by using a variety of similar terms using the OR Boolean operator, for example Year 6, Year six, Grade 6 and Grade six. 
  • When I searched for a term such as ‘society and the environment’, this database picked up each word individually, so I had to remember to take out ‘the’ and put in ‘society and environment’
  • Always make use of what I call ‘the breadcrumbs’ (see image) when using this database as it can save you a whole lot of time. It remembers every search you have done from the beginning.

Other sources I found using this database were the two Collins (2010 and 2009) articles and Walker (2010).

ERIC – An Education only American database, which would have to be my least favourite of all 3 databases because:

  • Even after putting quotation marks around specific query terms, this database searched for the words both as an exact phrase and as separate words, which was extremely frustrating
  • When searching for the term ‘inquiry based learning’ I found these words highlighted throughout the various articles with a hyphen, without a hyphen, in the exact phrase and each word separately, sometimes all within the same article, sometimes throughout different articles. If you are confused now, image what it was like for me trying to find an article that suited my needs – too much hard work!
  • I got no results using the search terms SOSE AND primary AND inquiry based learning and I used ‘social studies’ instead of SOSE and got 2 results
  • I found that a majority of these articles were too old or just not appropriate
  • I also observed that the key word ‘primary’ was referred to in the context of a primary resource rather than a primary class, therefore most of the information I found was unrelated to my needs
  • Throughout the whole time I spent searching for sources on this database, I found NO relevant articles

ProQuest – An American database of Education Journals, which is similar in many ways to both Google and Google Scholar

  • This database found each word in the search box separately (like Google), unless you used quotation marks
  • Being an American database, I had to use the term ‘social studies’ instead of SOSE
  • When I broadened my search to include “year 6, grade 6, grade six OR year six” I found probably one of the best resources out of all of the databases in Asselin (2001)
  • It has a great Advanced Search search feature which uses the Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT as well as being able to search by source type (eg scholarly journals)
  • The thesaurus I found to be very useful for finding synonyms as ProQuest is renown for its massive database (not just Education)
  • On occasion whilst skimming through the results, I found that some of the key words were highlighted in the reference section only – not very useful!
  • On the downside, when I tried to modify an advanced search by adding/changing a term/s, the database looked for the last word added in the search and not all terms in the search. I also found that I needed to change the date range box and tick the scholarly journals box every time I modified a search. If I forgot, it remembered the last search and did not update the new dates or scholarly journals (very frustrating!)
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Searching through Google, Google Scholar and ProQuest


What I discovered (after hours of playing) that is the same about all 3 of these expert searching facilities, Google, Google Scholar and ProQuest, is that:

  • To find an explicit phrase I used quotation marks (“ “). It forces the database to search for the exact phrase, compared to the database finding each word individually, which in turn, narrows the search significantly.
  • I used parentheses ( ) to enclose the search terms for each concept. The databases search for these terms first before combining with terms outside the brackets. For example, to find (inquiry OR enquiry) it will look for these two terms together.
  • I did not have to use the Boolean operator AND in the main search box as these databases automatically do it for you. I discovered that Google Scholar did this as it started to recognise my searching habits.

Although unlike ProQuest, when searching Google and Google Scholar I found that:

  • I could exclude terms from a search by using a hyphen in front of the word (with no spaces). This narrowed the search and got rid of irrelevant terms. For example -science took away all articles with the term science in the title or abstract. I could use the hyphen in front of a word instead of using the Boolean operator term NOT.
  • Connecting keywords with the Boolean operator OR retrieved results using the search terms on either side of the OR which in turn broadened the search.

While all 3 expert search facilities have similar features, I liked Google the most because it offers even more for the individual who is looking for a specific targeted information:

After wandering about exactly how Google searches, I discovered the SEO theory and analysis blog, which explained that Google starts with basic website performance, then it looks for: anything that might be of value to someone, content objects, the content of the page, content relationships, patterns and relationships and it does stuff with hypertext links it finds. Pretty amazing! After personally experimenting with many basic Google searches, I  found results from websites, youtube clips, Wikipedia definitions, university websites, to lesson plans and many many more resources.

One of the expert searches I conducted on Google lead me to two great resources. One by the educational consultant Murdoch (2010) and the other, Bertolini that I have added to my annotated bibliography. The step by step search process consisted of: 1. “inquiry based learning” “upper primary”, where text books topped the list 2. So I then added OR “upper elementary”, that nearly doubled the results (much broader search) 3. When I took out all of the quotation marks, the results went into the 3 millions 4. So I tried adding a hyphen between inquiry and based and it didn’t change the results at all 5. I then added OR “middle school” which again broadened the results 6. I didn’t need science results therefore I added –science (which narrowed the search) 7. By adding history the search was narrowed even further, with the terms now showing up in the titles. I noticed the term secondary appear so I took it out 8. –secondary 9. I finally narrowed the search to SOSE and found six resources, four of which were great resources, Gardner (2011),  Edutopia (2012) and two blogs from this subject last year (Handley-Stuart and Brand).   What I also really like about Google is that you can see a screenshot of the front page of an article/website etc when you pass the cursor over the arrow (as I am a very visual learner). To sum up this wonderful Google search engine, I discovered that it also:

  • Has the facility to put a ~ in front of a word (no spaces) to find similar words (synonyms)
  • Searches terms in singular forms as it will look for both singular and plural
  • Uses intitle: if you require the search term be in the title of the webpage (see image)
  • Omits entries similar to the entries already displayed (in search results) (see image)
  • Suggests using different word orders to retrieve different results
  • Lets you leave all punctuation out
  • Has an ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ button, for example inquiry based learning  (Disney Learning Partnership, 2004)

Some of the other websites and documents that I added to my annotated bibliography after searching Google where Scheffers (2008), Mead (2010) and Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (2010).  

Unlike Google and ProQuest, Google Scholar (which searches for Scholarly literature) has some excellent features (including a great help section) like:

  • Taking away patents and citations, narrowed my search
  • I could find articles with the term SOSE (even though it is not Australian)
  • I used related articles to find articles on similar topics
  • Using ” ” and ( ) together eg “(inquiry OR enquiry) based learning”
  • Using synonyms for words for example, primary OR “middle school” OR elementary as Google Scholar recognises terms from different countries
  • Using the cited by ? data which helped me know whether or not the article is worth looking at
  • Having the link to the get the fulltext @ QUT, wonderful tool!!

Like Google, one of the expert searches I conducted on Google Scholar lead to a couple of good resources to add to my annotated bibliography, including Gordon and Lucas et al (2004). The expert search consisted of: 1. inquiry based learning (with no quotation marks) which resulted in a very large search of over 1.5 million 2. I then put in quotation marks and took off patents and citations which narrowed the search dramatically to 12,500 results 3. By adding primary it halved the search again 4. middle primary, halved it again (I purposely didn’t put this in quotation marks). Without the quotation marks, these 2 words have different meanings in context, from primary resources to middle school. I tried putting them in quotation marks and no results were returned.  5. By taking out the –science terms I got rid of a lot of irrelevant articles as inquiry is a major part in science research 6. Same went for –mathematics 7. I then added history as my ILA is focused on the history side of SOSE  and returned 83 results of which I found another great resource in Tambyah (2010).

More expert searching strategies in A+ Education and ERIC to be continued …………..

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Expert Searching 101


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Description of the ILA

My Information-Learning Activity (ILA)

An ILA is where students are required to independently find and use (individually or in groups) a variety of information sources in order to learn about a topic.

Context of my ILA

I will be designing, teaching and critically evaluating an ILA based around a Year 6 SOSE unit in a team teaching environment. I will work alongside the two teachers throughout the unit working with whole class, small group and individual students.

The topic is Australian Immigration after World War II. The scenario the students have to describe is: You are a young adult (18-22 years old) from (choose a country). You have been forced to leave your country because it is no longer a place that you and your family can survive. You must arrange for you and your family to travel to Australia. Once you arrive in Australia, after a very long and dangerous journey, you have to find a way for you and your family to live in Australia legally. Once you and your family are Australian citizens, you are faced with a number of issues. You finally, after many years, resolve your issues problems and become a very important figure in Australia’s history. Without you, Australia would not be the place it is today. Describe your experiences to a Year 5 class. Use language skills of a narrative, emotional vocabulary, sentence structure and explain all of the events that took place in your life to tell your story.

The duration of the ILA will be 5 weeks beginning in Week 6. These students have been developing Information Literacy skills with my assistance from the beginning of the year.

Learning Outcomes of the ILA

By the end of the ILA, I hope that the students have developed understandings about Immigration to Australia, the experiences of immigrants over time and how immigrants have contributed to Australia’s development. In addition, that they have gained an understanding of the different perspectives of immigration to Australia since WWII.

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