Stage 2: Answers for the Questions and a Final Reflection


The task to limit questions to just three questions at the commencement of CLN650 was a daunting task because it meant eliminating so many important questions. Now at the end of the course, reflecting on the chosen questions discloses to me the subtle effect the course has had on me. The questions are answered but, in true Inquiry mode, they have created new questions and pathways of discovery – “ideas from new information” (Kuhlthau, 2007. p.22). The revisit has produced the following reflections:

Question 1: How do I control/limit distraction a student may experience in the excitement of discovery?

Patience and preparation are necessary for any inquiry learning, no matter how exciting the topic may seem. There are many models of information searching to choose from. Inquiry models vary and it is best to consider them and their terminology to apply to the particular students. Although the terminology is different, the construction is similar beginning with discussion and brainstorming to familiarisation of the student with ideas of the topic and development of a focus. For example, Follett’s Pathway of Knowledge starts with “Presearch” which provides searches with strategies to clarify their focus and this is similar to Kuhlthau’s Stage 3 “Prefocus Exploration” which seeks focus after brainstorming and discussion, and Lamb’s 8Ws  which starts with “Watching” and “Wondering”. If students can determine a focus at the commencement, it will be easier to steer a student back to that focus if distractions become too great. This attention back to the focus also needs to be done through the student’s thinking processes not by instruction from a teacher. A series of questions relating back to the focus will be much more beneficial and better for lifelong learning. These questions will be similar to those used for intervention in Figure 2.

Focus formulation calls for reflective thinking about the information encountered in the exploration stage of the ISP. Reflection is essential in the process at all stages. Of the models I examined, only the  Alberta model explicitly set it as a requirement at every stage. Most implied it. TELSTAR, a model provided by Queensland Education, used different nomenclature but required reconsidering consequences and outcomes of each of the phases.

The use of a program such as Evernote can be used in conjunction with a student’s research to organise what they are researching at the time plus store the extraneous material that they found interesting and distracting so they can revisit it another day to extend their personal learning.

Question 2: How do I recognise when intervention and instruction are essential?

Recognition of the need for intervention also needs consideration of the kinds of learning that need intervening in, and the type of intervention which will best serve the learner. Figure 1 succinctly summarises this.

Interventions for Learning

From the table, one can interpret that if a student is having difficulties working in a group and, because of this, is withdrawn and not engaging in the task, then intervening, for example, with help using Google Advanced would not be appropriate. The lack of participation has a source in social skills and the intervention must reflect this. Someone who is still in the learning to read stage would be having difficulty reading to learn so intervention might be to find facts that require less reading of text such as video, images, graphs and the like. Figure 2  indicates questions that could be used for intervention. They are ranged in low to higher order intelligences shadowing Bloom’s Taxonomy. (View Bloom’s Taxonomy and Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy in graphic form or in text form )

Figure 2 : Intervention questions for basic inquiry abilities

Figure 2 : Intervention questions for basic inquiry abilities (Kuhlthau, 2007. p. 136)

Kuhlthau reports on the analysis of a study by librarians which assessed student learning by observation, their performance and the final product. Figure 3 elaborates upon this.

Figure 3:  Indicators of Learning as Applied by Librarians (Kuhlthau, 2007. p. 115)

Figure 3: Indicators of Learning as Applied by Librarians (Kuhlthau, 2007. p. 115)

This is a very easy method and seems effective. If used with the form in Figure 4, teachers could have a cumulative record of student learning from topic to topic within a subject discipline and even across the curriculum. Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process is one of the few models which incorporates the searcher’s feelings at each stage of the process and Kuhlthau informs that when students are “uncertain or confused”, it is “a cue” for a “specific intervention” (Kuhlthau, 2007. p. 140)

Figure 4:  Indicators of Learning as Applied by Librarians (Kuhlthau, 2007. p. 118)

Figure 4: Indicators of Learning as Applied by Librarians (Kuhlthau, 2007. p. 118)

My original question was concerned with the recognition of the need for intervention and instruction but my answer has extended that to responses which is of much more use to me.

 Question 3: How do I refrain from being “instructivist” when that was my initial training and sometimes old habits die hard even when you can see great benefits in alternate ways?

This was possibly the easiest of the three questions to answer. When the Guided Inquiry was in progress according to as many of the optimum requirements as possible, even the urge to be instructivist dissipated. The need was no longer there. Sometimes students asked a question and saw me as a resource just like a book or a website. It was their choice to use me as a resource and their choice which questions were asked and when they were asked. They could stop me when they had reached the limit of the information they required.


Reflections on my own learning

My own reflections on my learning in the course reveal that, most of all, I enjoy the choice Guided Inquiry affords the learner. It is in choosing that the learner takes control of their own information seeking process – “choosing a topic, choosing sources, choosing ideas in the  sources, choosing what to pursue, choosing what to leave out, choosing what is enough” (Kuhlthau et al. 2007. p.138). In the searches, many new avenues of thinking were travelled. New ways of communicating were explored, for example, screen casting. Skills to be manipulated and reused have been developed. All this has amalgamated to create a learning confidence for my own learning and for sharing learning and teaching skills to others.

Many years of teaching have strengthened the pragmatist in me and I know that even with all the optimism of the intrepid explorer, theory and reality do not always mix. We can just do our best with what we are given and every  advancement  in learning in any child is a plus and we celebrate that learning until it becomes infectious. Kuhlthau’s premise for Inquiry Learning is that there is a Teacher librarian there for the zone of intervention where a “locator” is required. The reality in some schools is that there might be eighteen hundred students and only one teacher librarian. Some schools (and these numbers are on the rise if teacher librarian network listserves are to be believed) do not even have a trained librarian. The reality is that there may be many students in a class who require Zone 5 intervention (“guiding not simply on the sources, but also on the overall process, through a continuing interaction with the user” [Wilson. 2004. n.p.]).  Support Teacher assistance in this is not always available. If, as would be optimal, the whole school operates a Kuhlthau style Guided Inquiry pedagogy, then many specialist staff would be required which would be a financial challenge. Recent debates in Australia in regards to federal funding of education give example to this challenge. Nevertheless, it is the 21st century and the benefits of inquiry learning have been lauded for decades now. The pro-activity of teacher librarians may swing the pendulum.


Kuhlthau, Carol C. ; Maniotes, Leslie K. & Caspari, Ann K. (2007). Guided inquiry: learning in the 21st century, Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited

Kuhlthau, C.C.  (2013 update) Information Search Process accessed 30/10/2013 from

Pappas, Marjorie L. & Tepe, Ann E. (2002). Pathways to Knowledge. Accessed 20/10/2013 from

Tsai, M., J., Liang, J. C., Hou, H. T. & Tsai, C. C. (2012). University students’ online information searching strategies in different search contexts. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET), 28(5), 881-895  Accessed 02/09/2013 from

Wilson, T.D. (2004) Review of: Kuhlthau, C.C. Seeking meaning: a process approach to library and information services. 2nd. ed. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2004.   Information Research, 9(3), review no. R129. Accessed 28/10/2013 from:

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Stage 2: Recommendations

Image: adapted from image accessed 31/10/2013

Image: adapted from image×1080/blue-cubes.jpg accessed 31/10/2013

The progression of the Information Learning Activity (ILA) was somewhat fractured because of staffing movements, timetables and working days so a definitive agenda of altered procedure would not be practical. Instead I have outlined the activity again with greater detail of information literacy and inquiry learning that I have studied since first planning the ILA

The Alberta Model would still be the base for my ISP model of choice, see Figure 1 for a graphic model. For younger year groups such as my ILA Year 5 group, I would use the term “Selecting” rather than “Retrieving” so all students in the class were comfortable with the term. Many of the models are very similar but the Alberta Model openly states that reviewing is a critical element at every stage. In association with the Alberta Model, I would use the Kuhlthau ISP model (see Figure 2) to identify the feelings at each stage. New South Wales Curriculum Support uses a six stage ISP model that is very similar. They have produced a brochure which gives a detailed expansion of the model. The steps and skills at each stage are elaborated upon and because its six steps are almost identical to the Alberta Model, they could be applied and used effectively in engaging students to construct their own knowledge. This link will give you the information on page 9 of the document. Although I chose the Alberta Model for its constant review feature, I did not refer to that reviewing process as much as I could have. This could have been because I was not with the students constantly or because the ILA seemed to be progressing without major barriers. In doing this, I had forgotten that the purpose was not that they achieved well for this particular activity, but they learned lifelong skills to apply to another activity which may not be so quite straight forward or with as much assistance from various teaching staff.

                                         Click on the following graphics to enlarge:

Figure 1:  Alberta Inquiry Model taken from “Focus on Inquiry” page 10, Chapter 2.

Figure 1: Alberta Inquiry Model taken from “Focus on Inquiry” page 10, Chapter 2.

Figure 2: Kuhlthau Information Search Process accessed  09/09/2013 from

Figure 2: Kuhlthau Information Search Process accessed 09/09/2013 from

Below is a modified version of the original ILA. The changes reflect considerations made on analysis of the questionnaires and observations made during the activity combined with information taken from the informal interviews.

Figure 3: Table showing the proposed changes to ILA

Figure 3: Table showing the proposed changes to ILA

In examining the changes I have proposed, I notice that many of them have a “time factor” to them. Time to practise questioning, time to allow reflection at every stage, time to prepare more resources e.g. a Webquest, and time to prepare the other teachers for inquiry learning including common use of specific vocabulary. The common language is recommended to help students “to internalize the model and to talk about the learning processes involved” (LTRB, 2004. p. 4)

The elements that worked best in the ILA were:

  • that background was provided in the form of images and students were motivated
  • that choices were available at every stage. Not all choices were possible at all times but no student endured the whole activity with no choice.
  • that it held interest for most of the class
  • that it was a reasonably short activity not requiring masses of research, writing and presentation

The elements that require more attention are:

  • dedicated time to reflection at every stage so students regard it as part of the process not just something to see where you went wrong
  • provision of an enlarged copy of the Search Process Model for students to refer to
  • provision of information sources

Students have a tendency to consider Google as the supplier of information. Mini lessons on Google Advanced did give better search skills but it still was a limited source. This is why I have suggested a search plan. It may allow them to consider more sources. A comprehensive list of information sources can be found on page 28 of Information Skills in the School accessible from

As analysis of the questionnaires was involved in the formulation of these changes, I would consider changes to the questionnaire if I was conducting research again to establish my students’ learning. The following is a list with explanations:

  • In question 1, “What do you know?”, the three areas of “Facts”, “Explanation”, and “Conclusions” could be indicated. It seems unfair to expect young children to pre-empt what the researcher is searching for. In this way the two or three questionnaires are comparing the same fields. It is not reliant on accidental inclusions or omissions.
  • Identify students on questionnaire. It would show their progress between questionnaires. It would identify disharmony not evidenced in observations. The students have a rapport with their teacher and a thorough explanation at the beginning would ensure they realised it was for their benefit. Certainly, I do not believe it would detrimentally affect the results more than the anonymous questionnaires.
  • Individual and combination of codes for coding to see if certain elements are common to particular students

Improvement in anything is a continual process. A future return to this particular ILA would consider the group of students in the class, ICLT movements within the school, and the classroom activities of colleagues in all schools. Keeping in contact with these activities is what inspires me. Some that I discovered while doing this unit are:

Focus on Inquiry


Learning and Teachers Resources Branch. (2004). Focus on Inquiry: a teacher’s guide to implementing inquiry-based learning. Alberta: Alberta Learning. Accessed 01/09/2013 from

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Stage 2: Action Taken to Improve Learning

Image: Accessed 30/10/2013 from

Image: Accessed 30/10/2013 from

The nature of the circumstances in which the ILA was actioned precluded action being taken after the questionnaires. The teacher/s involved followed original planned activity instructions reasonably well. Assessment was deemed formative. The only area where some action could be proposed and followed was in the final presentation.

The original activity required students to present findings on their topic as an oral presentation in time line order that had been predetermined by them at an earlier stage. Through observation, two areas created the most difficulty for the students. These were the mind maps and the social aspect of working in a group. It was decided to do another mind map which required each group to create a character within their topic from the period.  They were reinforcing the practical skill and also the inquiry learning skill as they had make choices.

An example is one group of three students whose topic was bushrangers. They decided to find images of Frank Gardiner to determine clothing required. The mind map then set out the requirements and who would bring which items. Part of their discussion was whether they would provide a beard for the bushranger as photos had him with and without facial hair. The students decided to have a beard as Gardiner was probably clean shaven only after when he had become respectable. They also realised from the photos that he carried a revolver not a rifle and he would probably have a swag because he was always onm the run. They chose a green colour background to the bubbles as that reflected the bush. The bubbles for names had to stand out but they chose colours that did not reflect the pink/blue gender stereotypes as the group consisted of two boys and a girl. The discussions resulted in a lot more “extended” and “conclusion” style responses rather than just “factual” ones which gives a more positive result to the activity than the questionnaires did. Social skills were demonstrated when advising students to “ask” each other to bring something rather than to “tell” another student what they would be doing.

The mind mapping for this was probably simpler than the original one that they were asked to do and they achieved it easily giving confidence. It was a reminder to me that simple steps are required when it is the first time students are doing something, especially students who are younger. The fun, dressing up aspect of this reflected on the whole activity.

The following are copies of the images the students decided upon as their inspiration for costume choices and the mind map created from the tool.

Figure 1: Images of Frank Gardiner used by students to determine bushranger costume

Figure 1: Images of Frank Gardiner used by students to determine bushranger costume

Figure 2: Mind map created by students to determine costume arrangements

Figure 2: Mind map created by students to determine costume arrangements

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Stage 2: Analysis

Image: Accessed 30/10/2013 from

Image: Accessed 30/10/2013 from


This analysis is couched in educational theories and models that refer to a 21st century learner. Depending on the reader’s age, this might be a difficult concept to absorb. The following video is lengthy (18 minutes) but it takes the watcher into a world that is all around us. Our students need to participate in this world and a world beyond. When you are familiar with that participatory, immediate world, I will present the theories and their substance and apply the ILA to the theories to see how it applies as a learning tool for the students.

Contructivism: Learners construct knowledge for themselves from previous learning in an active process learning to learn while they learn. Leaning is a contextual, social activity requiring motivation, time and revisits to ideas, and reflection on that which has been learned.

ILA Application: Previous learning for the students was that the images presented to them were of Queensland in the 1800s. Some of the content of those images would have been new for some, perhaps most, students. From this, they constructed new knowledge. The context was in appreciating more about their greater locality, i.e., Queensland, and it was a social activity as it was in small groups of three. The motivation was that they could choose the area they wished to expand their learning from the stimulus images. Groups showed this motivation in selecting what they considered an “interesting” part of the topic. One group chose to discover the information about the shearer Jackie Howe and his shearing record as their contribution about pastoral industries. Although their research was predominantly about Jackie Howe, they also absorbed information about the size of the pastoral leases, the effect of climate on the pastoralists and the history of an item of clothing – the Jackie Howe singlet! Without evidence but after many years of teaching, I would say that that group knew more about sheep in Queensland in the 1800s by researching Jackie Howe than if I had set a task on the pastoral industry. Reflection was to be part of the ILA but it was often hampered by time constraints so two necessary components of Constructivism learning were limited. This can only be rectified by a whole school approach to Inquiry Learning which will provide flexibility.

Information Literacy: The American Library Association defines Information Literacy as ability to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information” (ACRL, 2013). New digital devices across the globe have meant a proliferation of information, some in unfiltered formats, “raising questions about its authenticity, validity, and reliability” (ACRL, 2013). Added to the traditional requirements of  information literacy, is a requirement to “understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally” (ACRL, 2013).

Since the beginning of the new millennium, transformative aspects have been added to the definition. It is an empowerment that allows a person to change or transform structures within their society. The different perspectives over time can be seen in the perspectives of Searle (1999), Papas (2005), Larsen and Marsh (2005) as tabled by Lupton and Bruce (2010, p. 7). Lupton and Bruce argue that literacy is divided into three areas – Generic (functional for the self), Situated (collaborative and social for local decisions) and Transformative (“empowered to change the status quo” [Lupton & Bruce, 2010. p. 5]).

Research models have been developed by various individuals and institutions. One list can be viewed here.  Lupton and Bruce show that most of the Information Literacy models concentrate on the generic perspective and some hint at the situated briefly.

Figure 1:  Alberta Inquiry Model taken from “Focus on Inquiry” page 10, Chapter 2.

Figure 1: Alberta Inquiry Model taken from “Focus on Inquiry” page 10, Chapter 2.

ILA ApplicationUsing the Alberta Model, the students were geared for the ALA definition of information literacy. During the activity process, they were shown hoax web sites and Photoshopped images which introduced them to the concerns of “authenticity, validity, and reliability”. The ethical aspect was introduced as students are encouraged to acknowledge sources. To assist in this the school subscribes to South Australia School Library Association Reference Generator which has a modified version for the younger years but is a wonderful introduction to acknowledging the work of others.

A second look at the Alberta Model which I had chosen over several others does follow the Generic formula suggested by Lupton and Bruce. All instructions are for the individual even though the activity was a group activity. There is no reference to collaboration, sharing/delegation of tasks or negotiating. It would be unrealistic to think that a group of young school children would come to a consensus on such things as “select relevant information”, “establish a focus for inquiry” or “organise information”. The skills to do these things need to be addressed.

The Alberta Model, like all models was developed for certain groups at a certain societal time and, like all things, now must be fluid to change or adaptation. Time has given me more chance to examine other models. One that has features that I would like to amalgamate with the Alberta Model is the Research Cycle. It places an emphasis on questioning that the Alberta model only implies, for example, “identify a topic area for inquiry” in Planning. Questioning is the first area of the Research Cycle, followed by Planning. The perspective is still generic as evidenced in the promotion of the model – “requires that students make up their own minds, create their own answers and show independence” (McKenzie, 1999. p. 3). Both these models and my ILA are for self advancement in the student yet reasonably follow the definition of information literacy as defined by ALA. Returning to the video for a glimpse of the world around us, it is time to update the definitions otherwise schools will perpetuate old methods for an old world.


Multiple Intelligences: In 1983, Howard Gardner of Harvard University identified seven intelligences and has since added an eighth and others are considered. This was a bold move away from the traditional reading, writing and arithmetic that judged a person’s intelligence. By introducing these learning methods, or intelligences, into the school curriculum, a student can progress using preferred learning style or combination of learning styles. Weaknesses can also be detected. Learning is more productive when geared to the student’s unique abilities. Churches ( provides the following diagram of Gardiner’s theory.

Figure 2: Diagrammatic interpretation of Gardner's Multiple Intelligences by Andrew Churches

Figure 2: Diagrammatic interpretation of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences by Andrew Churches

The same site gives a 21st century view of the theory. Churches has taken the abilities and applied them to abilities with computers and digital skills.

ILA Application: The ILA has used several of the multiple intelligences but has not applied them to ICT in every case. The following lists the intelligences and their use in the ILA:

  • Visual …… reading the stimulus images ; mind mapping
  • Physical  ….. making costumes
  • Interpersonal ….. group work
  • Intrapersonal ….. self reflection ; mind mapping ; internet research
  • Linguistic ….. oral presentation ; group discussions
  • Logical ….. possible depending on the topic chosen

When analysed like this, it becomes obvious that the ILA was not a model for 21st century learning or learners. It did contain most of the intelligences which could go part of the way to explain why the students enjoyed it.  If used, it would need to be combined with other activities that applied the ICT component much more widely. Teachers need to keep a matrix as a checklist that they are giving their students the widest possible choice to use their abilities. Students also should keep a folio of the abilities or intelligences used as they will be different from others in the class with more choice of activity being the norm in the classroom.

Bloom’s Digital TaxonomyAndrew Churches constructed this model based on the original Bloom’s Taxonomy which was a “framework for classifying statements of what we expect or intend students to learn as a result of instruction” (Krathwohl, 2010. p. 212). It facilitated examination marking between faculties and as such was not truly devised as a learning tool. It was revised but still the concept of steps ranging from simple to complex, concrete to abstract remain. The two versions can be seen in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Bloom's Taxonomy - original and modified created by Churches, A. (2009) Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. Accessed 01/11/2013 from

Figure 3: Bloom’s Taxonomy – original and modified created by Churches, A. (2009) Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. Accessed 01/11/2013 from

Churches’ version is a digital taxonomy which “attempts to account for the new behaviours and actions emerging as technology advances and becomes more ubiquitous” (Churches, 2009). It is about learning; not about examinations.

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy AC

Even thought the modified taxonomy had altered its terminology from nouns to verbs which would be a greater indicator to students of what skills to apply, it is the Digital version created by Churches which appreciates the learning to evolve. Examination of the digital activities, elaborations of the earlier used terms, and the communications spectrum on the right shows they can be inserted into any of the Research models, but they also validate Lupton and Bruce’s assertions that generic and situational aspects are considered almost excluding transformational. Bloom provides rubrics for each of the terms and each is divided into activity levels. Churches’ rubric for Bookmarking (Remembering) can be seen here.

ILA Application: I will examine the ILA in the terms of Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy.

  • Remembering – searching, bullet pointing, googling, highlighting
  • Understanding – advanced searches
  • Applying –
  • Analysing
  • Evaluating
  • Creating

This is quite an eye-opener. It is a 20th century lesson operating in a slightly different space.The teacher was the “guide on the side” and not the “sage on the stage” but the classroom was bereft of resources. The school does not allow social media and it does not have a school management system where the students could set up safe blogs. This was a Year 5 class with very little research experience.  Some of the students would have executed the actions of the non-digital hierarchy but within the subcategories, they would have been the lower order.

In summary, it was an activity that had very little learning. Although there were attempts to make it a learning activity for the 21st century, the time constraints, lack of digital tools built into the activity, school policy regarding social media and staffing untrained in Inquiry Learning made it no more than a pleasant activity where some learning may have inadvertently taken place. It was also disconcerting to see that the models on which teachers rely could also be outdated for this century. Their adherence to the individual will not be conducive to the participatory and transformative requirements of the world of our students.


Association of College and Research Libraries, 2013. Information Literacy Defined. Accessed 01/11/2013 from

Churches, A. (2009) Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. Accessed 01/11/2013 from

Educational Broadcasting Corporation, 2004. Workshop: Constructivism as a paradigm for teaching and learning. Accessed 30/10/2013 from

Hoover, W.   1996. The practice implications of constructivism. Accessed 31/10/2013 from

Krathwohl, D.R.(2002) A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview, Theory Into Practice, 41:4, 212-218, DOI: 10.1207/s15430421tip4104_2

Lupton, Mandy and Bruce, Christine. (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

McKenzie, J. (1999). The Research Cycle. From Now On The Educational Technology Journal, Vol 9 (4) accessed 09/08/2012 from

What are Multiple Intelligences? (n.d.) online document accessed 01/11/2013 from

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Stage 2: Sharing the Learning – feedback to colleagues

My group colleagues are putting together their interpretations of their ILA questionnaires and it is interesting reading how their learning activities are prepared, scaffolded and adjusted to suit situations. This post is a break from my own analysis to provide feedback to two colleagues.

Gina,  has organised a wonderful activity of making cardboard boats with a Year 4 class and my feedback below is in relation to her post “Action Taken Blog Stage 2”.

There are some anxious moments with students trying to access information. It seems many do not stop and think first. I think this is where reflection will be a handy tool if they are encouraged to do it at every stage as is instructed in the Alberta model.  Later searches by students will consider what worked and what didn’t in the past.

Congratulations on your incentive to modify the plan and introduce the Boolean searches. I have found that for the younger grades Google Advanced is great if you:

  • click “Reading Level” and select basic
  • click “Safe Search” to filter explicit results
  • type -book, -DVD   in the “None of these words” line (this ensures you don’t get promos for books on your topic

Just for interest, I typed “instructions to build cardboard floating boat” in the subject line with the above limitations and had some great results. One you might like for your next project is a cardboard boat that can carry 2 students!! Here is the link:

I was very impressed with your list of alternate search engines for younger students. I selected a couple and will certainly be using again. It gave some excellent results for the topics in my ILA. As the blog is more than likely to have teachers as its main audience, and we know how time poor most teachers are (especially those doing extra study!), it would have been even more useful if the sites you found to be non-functioning were identified or left out.

May there be many more “teachable moments” ahead for you in your T/L career journey.

Rob, , is an Art teacher at an indigenous school and, in his own words, faced the ILA with “personal trepidation”. The low level of literacy of his students was among the causes of this anxiety. Below is my feedback on his post, “Results of the Information Learning Activity”.

 It is unfortunate that the SLIM Toolkit as a written format may disadvantage your students as many standardised tests aimed at White Anglo Saxon Protestants have done in the past for indigenous students and minor groups. As you said in your post, “This also signalled to me that my students do sometimes know the answers but lack the wherewithal to translate these to written responses”.   Not only did they know answers but they could give the higher order explanatory answers.

I wonder if the toolkit could be applied in another format. If the students could record their answers, they could allay their inhibitions and avoidance of writing which highlights their shortcomings. Many laptops and desktop computers now have camera function and the students could video record their responses. A small digital voice recorder could be used. Small microphones with USB attachment are available and these would provide another format. These methods might be considered more fun than a written response and perhaps a more enthusiastic response might be given. From this there could be a ripple effect that would affect your delivery of an ILA as your estimation of abilities, student learning is raised . Part of the great unknown!  All the best with the project, Rob.

Stage 1 Feedback:

During Stage 1 of the assignment, I commented on blog posts of two of my colleagues. These comments can be read at “Visiting the Group”  and at “Another Visit“. My colleagues also commented on my blog posts as per Blog Comments by other Group Members

Personal Value of Feedback and Commenting on Blogs of Others:

The feedback is a way of connecting with others in the group. Positive comments serve to boost confidence and to confirm you are “on the right track” in the course. Reading the work of others can be inspiring and give you ideas. When this has happened, I feel it is an obligation to let the author know and to thank the person. It is a sharing avenue as well and if you think you have something to contribute that will add to the other person’s work, then it is satisfying to share.

I do not feel it is my place to publicly criticise a person’s blog. If I discover incorrect information or suchlike, then I would inform that person by other means such as email. It is easier to work with someone who is discreet than someone who would publicly humiliate you. In return, I would prefer the same consideration. Fortunately, this is what has happened in the exchange of comments with my colleagues.

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Stage 2: Questionnaires – Results and Interpretation

Image: accessed 01/11/2013 from

Image: accessed 01/11/2013 from

In this post I will present the analysis of the data collected from the two questionnaires given to students during the ILA, observations and interviews, and interpret it. Click to Revisit Questionnaires. Click to view Interview questions. Graphics which give a clear visual of the collected data have been presented. Quotes from student responses have been given. For ease of reading, I have corrected spelling and grammar errors while retaining the original intent of the response.

Responses to Question 1, “List what you know about your chosen topic”, were divided into three groups – Facts, Explanations and Conclusions – with the last two groups requiring a higher order process than the one before. The graph below shows the results.

Figure 1: Comparison of responses to Question 1 on both questionnaires

Figure 1: Comparison of responses to Question 1 on both questionnaires

In both questionnaires, facts on the topic far outweighed the higher order responses. Although students were asked to write sentences for their answers, many wrote just a single word or a phrase. This type of response would prevent “explanation” or “conclusion” style responses even if the student did know more information to give such a response. The provision of a dot for dot point answers rather than lines could have affected the response style.  There were only two students in Questionnaire 1 and none in Questionnaire 2 who responded with zero knowledge of the topic. This could be because the students, with a few exceptions, chose their own topic and because stimulus images had been used to introduce the unit of work but without definitively identifying them as study areas. Discussion about the images amongst students, and without teacher input, had already begun.

Explanation style knowledge was greater in the second questionnaire. This is not unexpected as the students would have discovered some information in their research. Only the second questionnaire had a conclusion style result. This could be because of the reminder to write sentences and the prompt that they could give expanded knowledge in their responses, given before handing out the second questionnaire. During interviews, when asked if they could have given an explanation to some of their facts, student answers included a shrug of shoulders to “probably”.

The total number of responses was greater in the second questionnaire. This could be because of the knowledge gained in research. Observations of student behaviour during the process noted that there was hesitancy in starting Questionnaire 1. There was some checking with “mates”.  Some students started with Questions 2 and 3 which required shading in a circle and not sentence writing. This could indicate a reluctance to answer in sentences. In the preamble, questions from students included mention of NAPLAN and, being a year 5 cohort, they had been part of the testing just a few months prior. There could have been some anxiety associated with this which curbed an enthusiastic approach to the questionnaire. This consideration was reinforced a little  during the interviews when students were asked, “What were your feelings when told your class was going to do some questionnaires as part of this activity?”  Words such as “nervous”, “write the wrong thing” and “I wasn’t sure what it was for” were in the responses.

Responses to Question 2, “How much interest do you have in this topic” were quite heartening. No students in either questionnaire responded with “none”. In some classes this could be attributed to trying to please the teacher but this class of mixed personalities were not noted for this characteristic. The enthusiasm shown towards the selected stimulus images could have been the catalyst. Most students were able to research their chosen topic and this could have generated interest.

The level of interest seemed to be maintained with a minimal increase in the “tiny bit” level. Because names were not included on the questionnaire, it was not possible to identify the students and, therefore, the reason for this. It could have been that difficulty in searching, disagreements with group members or unmet expectations was the reason.

When the results are analysed in conjunction with the next question relating to students’ knowledge of the topic, it could be proposed that success in finding knowledge and retaining it had a corresponding effect on interest.

Figure 2: Questionnaire 1 result for Interest in Topic

Figure 2: Questionnaire 1 result for Interest in Topic
Figure 3: Questionnaire 2 results for Interest in Topic

Figure 3: Questionnaire 2 results for Interest in Topic

Responses to Question 3, “How much do you know about this topic?”  indicate that the students recognise that they have been successful in finding information. Two  responses of “none” in Questionnaire 1 to nil in this category in Questionnaire 2 and only five responses of “fair bit” and higher in Questionnaire 1 increasing to fifteen in Questionnaire 2 is evidence of this. Figures 4 and 5 visually show this change in knowledge

Figure 4: Questionnaire 2 results for Knowledge of Thopic

Figure 4: Questionnaire 2 results for Knowledge of Thopic

In the week prior to Questionnaire 2 being given, students were given lessons in using Google Advanced, in particular being able to access (1) age appropriate results  (2) eliminating some irrelevant results by putting a minus sign in front of words (in particular Book and DVD) and (3) scanning results before opening to save time. They were also shown some hoax videos and photoshop images which stimulated interest in searching. In the classroom at the time were the classroom teacher, the teacher librarian and a school officer (teacher aide). Arrangements had been made with the Support Teacher that students having difficulties with searching strategies would have extra lessons in strategies replacing some of their Guided Reading time temporarily. All this was possible because there is only one Year 5 class and the administration is flexible with staff duties. The positive aspect of Figure 5 showing over 50% of students professing to know a “fair bit”  or “lots” of a topic is a firm base for continuing with inquiry learning.

Figure 5: Questionnaire 2 Knowledge of Topic

Figure 5: Questionnaire 2 Knowledge of Topic

Responses to Question 4, “When looking for information, what do you feel is easy to do?” were organised into a table based on the themes of responses.  The table can be accessed here – THEMES ease of research process

The themes were determined from the students’ responses and grouped according to similarities. The most common themes mentioned were “task oriented”, “resource oriented”, “computer searching” and “presentation”. Many of the comments relate to simple tasks, for example, “choosing a book from the box the teacher gets from the library” and “it is fast to find nice fonts”.

Responses to Question 5, “When looking for information, what is difficult to do?” were also organised into a table based on the same themes used as coding for Question 4. This table can be accessed here –  THEMES difficulty of research.

The most common themes mentioned were “resources” and “presentation” and these stayed constant for both Questionnaires. Because the table is constructed according to mentions, not students, it does not give an accurate scenario. One student could give three comments on presentation difficulties. However, it does give an impression on which future pedagogical and student learning decisions can be made.

It would appear that the task did not provide too many difficulties. This could be because the task was reasonably simple, well-scaffolded and there were several staff members in the room at any one time to assist and explain. Resources presented some of the early frustration as described by Kuhlthau. This was from two areas –  inability to decipher the clues to information searching, particularly with books and unavailability of books (“some people keep the books for too long”). Although not a big difference, there was an increase in mentions of “comprehension of terms” from Questionnaire 1 to Questionnaire 2. This could be attributed to the increased confidence in students by the questionnaire as mentioned in interpretation of Question 1. It could also be attributed to an accumulation of non-understood terms as the task progressed.

Some responses to Questions 4 and 5 are best looked at in conjunction with each other. The theme of “working with others” had a reduced number of “easy” responses  and a corresponding increased number of “difficult” responses in Questionnaire 2. The anticipated joy at working with a friend could could be not so joyful as the activity progressed and the friend was not co-operative or was lazy. Observations noted some slight disharmony between some students in groups. “Task oriented” questions had a reasonably high number of responses for both questionnaires. This does not necessarily mean that most students thought it was easy because it records the mentions, not the student number and some students may have made several mentions about the task. However, when it is put in context with the relatively few mentions (only 3 in Questionnaire 2) in Question 5 for what they found “difficult”, then it can be assumed that the task did not create frustrations for the students during the activity and could be considered well-formed.

Responses to Question 6, “What did you learn in doing this research project”

Responses to this question were sparse. Perhaps the students were running out of time. Perhaps the anticipation of doing the next response which was graphic in nature had more appeal than another written text response. Perhaps they felt it had already been answered in Question 1. Responses were in two main groups – facts, for example “Kanakas came from Samoa and Tonga and Solomon”, and skills, for example “Google Advanced”. There was one response that related to a lesson given but not to the activity, “Velcro doesn’t grow on farms”. Perhaps this can be interpreted as “hoax websites exist”.

The following graph has been constructed condensing the responses to four codes but, because of the above reasons, I do not consider it as valuable in evaluating student learning in the ILA.

Figure6: Responses to Question 6 have been coded into four groupings

Figure6: Responses to Question 6 have been coded into four groupings

Responses to Question 7, “How do you feel about your research now?” is best presented as a pictogram using the emoticons on the questionnaire. Approximately 70% (19/27) of students had positive feelings about their research. This does not seem to have any direct correlation to student interest -77% (21/27) see Figure 3 – or knowledge of topic – 55% (15/27) see Figure 5 – from the same questionnaire. Personal interpretations of doing well could be at play. For one student, getting some good comments would equate to doing well. For another student, being amongst the best, or the best, are the only acceptable results. This could explain the disparity of results of what is known to results of feelings, and the closer connectedness of results of interest in topic to results of feelings.

Figure 7: The emoticons used on the questionnaire provide a quick evaluation of feelings expressed by students during the ILA

Figure 7: The emoticons used on the questionnaire provide a quick evaluation of feelings expressed by students during the ILA

Because it was not possible to use three questionnaires with this ILA, and the fact that the second questionnaire was given before the final presentation, it is not possible to give an accurate interpretation of student learning from the ILA. However, the information gathered and analysed, together with observations and interview comments, does give an estimation of the value of inquiry learning and information learning in this particular classroom setting.

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Stage 2: Collecting the ILA information – Methodology

Collecting the ILA Information – Methodology

The class introduced to inquiry-based learning is a Year 5 co-educational class of 27 students in a Brisbane Catholic Education school on the outskirts of Brisbane. The Year 5 class considered the exploration of the land now known as Queensland by white settlers. The following explains the methodology used to ascertain changes in student learning through the Information Learning Activity (ILA). You can link to more at Background to Class and ILA

Gathering of data was commenced after the students had:

  • perused several images of early Queensland
  • suggested lines of inquiry (how, who, why, which, when, did) about selected images while in groups
  • selected the image they wished to pursue with a line of inquiry. (Images have now been placed into categories – explorers ; bushrangers ; shearers (Waltzing Matilda as stimulus) ; transport – Cobb & Co, Trains ; convicts ; gold ; Aboriginal conflicts ; education for children ; government ; Kanakas and sugar cane)

A short explanation was given to students that they would be given 2 questionnaires during their Inquiry Activity and some students would be chosen for short interviews at the end of the activity. The questionnaires would not identify the students and would not be part of their assessment, nor would it affect their assessment. Those chosen for the interviews would not be advantaged or disadvantaged.

When the questionnaires were given to the students, each question was explained to the students to ensure there was no misunderstanding of terminology and to give prompts of areas they could use for their answers. Examples of this would be in the easy/difficult areas of questions 4 and 5 and students were part of brainstorming of suggestions which included computer work, group work, teacher access, task terminology, sorting information and more.

The questionnaires were based on the Student Learning through Inquiry Measure (SLIM) toolkit. This was developed 2003 – 2005 to “measure student learning in multidimensional ways including growth of knowledge of their curriculum topic, interest, feelings, and experiences during the inquiry process, and their reflections on their learning” (Rutgers, 2013. P.4). Only two questionnaires were used in  the ILA because time constraints and Long Service Leave of the class teacher made it dubious whether a third would be possible so two were planned for from commencement. Wording was altered:

  • to prevent ambiguity (example – in #4 and #5, “as you like” was altered to “as you want to”)
  • to ensure understanding (example – in #4 and #5, “generally” was omitted as some students may not have been sure of the meaning)
  • to provide clarity (example – in #4 and #5, “mention” was replaced with “list”

Pertinent words were in bold. Graphics were included as a visual prompt to aid the text as the students are on average only ten years old. The original toolkit was prepared for students from Year 6 to 10 (Todd, 2005. p.5) The ILA had been prepared so as to meet the requirements where students are “actively engaged in diverse and often conflicting sources of information and ideas to discover new ideas, to build new understandings, and to develop personal viewpoints and perspectives” as per the requirements of Todd et al (2005 p.6). Compare the ILA Questionnaire 1 adaptation and Questionnaire 2 adaptation with the SLIM questionnaires

Observations were made of students during the ILA and also while they completed the questionnaires. These were cursory, and brief notes were made. The main purpose was to establish that the questionnaires were not contributing to extraordinary behaviour in the students and to observe emotions and interactions to compare with student responses on the questionnaires.

Five students were selected randomly (names drawn from a hat) for a five minute Interview to elicit whether:

  • there were areas they thought were missing on the questionnaire
  • they would have written more if there was time
  • they had learnt skills that they would use for searching for information not related to school (life-long learning)

By having three different methods of data collection, it is envisaged that any inconsistencies or anomalies will become evident. The teaching period was very disruptive because of school activities and teacher changes and it was hoped that using the three methods might alleviate any problems caused by these factors.


Rutgers School of Communication and Information.  2013. Impact Studies. Accessed 01/10/2013 from

Todd, R., Kuhlthau, C. & Heinström, J. 2005. School Library Impact Measure. Accessed 01/10/2013 from

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