Comment on the role of the teacher librarian in practice with regard to assessing information literacy and inquiry learning.
There has been a distinct move away from Resource Based Learning in schools, towards a more constructivist approach to learning and teaching where the emphasis is on the student as a learner rather than the teacher as the instructor, resulting in a teacher librarian’s role being expanded and redefined. There are two examples of constructivist learning, inquiry and project-based learning, but “inquiry learning across the school curriculum is becoming a widely recommended approach” (Collins et al, 2008).
Collins et al (2008) defines inquiry learning as “an effective form of tuition for acquiring intuitive, deep, conceptual knowledge”, with students using a range of skills and abilities to complete a task or solve a problem. While Boss and Krauss (2008) observe that inquiry learning motivates students to engage with research tasks to enhance their learning skills as well as their knowledge, and use technology as a tool for discovery, collaboration, and communication (p. 12). Essentially, the main focus of inquiry learning is the learning process as an exploration of the natural/ constructed world, encouraging the learner to question and discover new understandings (EduTech Wiki, 2012). Therefore the role of the teacher librarian is to effectively teach students how to use a variety of strategies and tools to locate, select, evaluate and synthesize information by using technology skills and peer collaboration, resulting in 21st century inquiry learning and improved curriculum outcomes (NSW Department of Education and Training, 2007). However, successfully implementing these strategies necessitates both teachers and teacher librarians collaborate effectively to organise students’ learning opportunities through quality teaching.
Information literacy is the blending of student information skills used for research based assignments, (planning, information retrieval, evaluation of sources, interpretation, note taking and assignment writing) with technology skills, where students have to think about how and when they might use their newly acquired information effectively to learn, create new knowledge, solve problems and make decisions (Bundy, 2004). The role of the teacher librarian in teaching both information literacy and inquiry skills, involves developing higher order thinking skills such as question formulation, evaluating information and building new knowledge. In collaboration with classroom teachers the teacher librarian plans and implements programs where these information literacy skills are incorporated with technology skills to successfully access, retrieve, and present quality research information to satisfy curriculum outcomes and enhance students learning.
Herring and Tarter (2006), believe that to successfully assess the implementation of an inquiry approach to learning and develop effective information literacy skills, students must demonstrate the ability to use information and ideas selected from a variety of resources to produce curriculum related work (written or oral), in conjunction with reflecting on the purpose for, and creative use of the information as active participants within the school community or as global citizens (p. 3). How the students transferred these skills across the curriculum, in further education, or the future workplace, were an indicator of how effective the teaching and learning process had satisfied both curriculum outcomes and prepared the students for being independent life-long learners (Herring & Tarter, 2006, p. 3).
Inquiry learning can be a complex task and therefore requires carefully designed inquiry learning environments provided by teacher librarians to assist and support students in the process of transforming information into useful knowledge.
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Boss, S. & Krauss, J. (2008). Reinventing Project-Based Learning. p.12. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/images/excerpts/REINVT-excerpt.pdf
Bundy, A. (ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice. 2nd ed. Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL) and Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL).
Collins, Trevor; Gaved, Mark; Mulholland, Paul; Kerawalla, Cindy; Twiner, Alison; Scanlon, Eileen; Jones, Ann; Littleton, Karen; Conole, Grainne and Blake, Canan (2008). Supporting location-based inquiry learning across school, field and home contexts. In: Proceedings of the MLearn 2008 Conference, 7 – 10 Oct 2008, Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire, UK.
EduTech Wiki, (2012). Inquiry-based Learning. Retrieved from: ile:///E:/CSU/ETL401%20Teacher%20Librarianship/ETL401%20readings/Information%20Literacy/Inquiry-based%20learning%20-%20EduTech%20Wiki.htm
Herring, J. E. & Tarter, A. M., (2006). Progress in developing information literacy in a secondary school using the PLUS model. Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia: Ripon Grammar School, Ripon, Yorkshire, UK:
New South Wales Department of Education and Training. (2007). “The New South Wales Model”. Retrieved from: http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/teachingideas/isp/index.htm