My name is Jennifer Branch-Mueller and I am a professor in the Department of Elementary Education at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. I coordinate the Teacher-Librarianship by Distance Learning program and was a teacher and teacher-librarian. I met Darryl Toerien at the recent International Association of School Librarianship conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia and he asked me to participate in your group. Here is a document that Dr. Dianne Oberg and I wrote in the early 2000s as a support resource for teachers in Alberta. I think it might be a helpful resource for this discussion.
Hello Jennifer, I am delighted that you could join us! I am very excited to read your attached document. Just having a brief look I already know that we are thinking along the same lines and I really look forward to future discussions.
Teacher-Librarians in Canada come to that role in a variety of ways. All are teachers first and then add additional qualifications. In Ontario, teachers can take three courses to get a School Library Specialist certification. In BC, many teachers take a diploma (8 senior undergraduate level courses in teacher-librarianship). At my own university, the University of Alberta, students can either take an MLIS degree which prepares them to work in all types of libraries (but primarily academic and public libraries) or our Master of Education degree with a focus on teacher-librarianship.
There are others that work in libraries, of course, library technicians (those with a two year diploma from a college program) are much more common that qualified teacher-librarians in Alberta. There are also professional librarians (those with an MLIS degree) but without a teaching qualification who also work in school libraries.
Thank you, Jennifer, and I think that this answers another question that I had, which was whether there was a companion-document to Focus on inquiry : a teacher’s guide to implementing inquiry-based learning for school librarians, but of course, in your educational paradigm school librarians are specialist teachers, which also explains, I think, why you and Dianne are based in the Department of Elementary Education at the University of Alberta.
For us it is worth us dwelling on this question, because in our prevailing educational paradigm, inquiry is thought of “in terms of isolated projects, undertaken occasionally on an individual basis as part of a traditional transmissionary pedagogy,” as Gordon Wells puts it, if it is thought of at all. This stands in stark contrast to thinking of inquiry, following from the definition above, as “a stance that pervades all aspects of life and is essential to the way in which knowledge is created,” and from which a number of things follow.
(While on the Galileo Educational Network it is worth looking at Inquiry-Based Learning: A Review of the Research Literature (Friesen & Scott, 2013), which “draws on theory and research in the field to provide insight into the efficacy of particular approaches to inquiry in terms of their impact on student learning, achievement, and engagement”. The review includes Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching, by Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark (2006), as well as the excellent response by Hmelo-Silver, Duncan, and Chinn (2006), Scaffolding and Achievement in Problem-Based and Inquiry Learning: A Response to Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark.)
I’ll pause with 4 thoughts on the following passage from Focus on inquiry (p. 2):
Some of the research on this effect [inquiry-based learning improves student achievement] comes from studies of effective school library programs that are centres of inquiry-based learning. A school library program that is properly equipped and staffed can make a difference in terms of measurable gains in student achievement. School library factors alone can account for improvements of 2% to 9% in student achievement (Lance, 2001)*.
Firstly, “school library program” is not part of our vocabulary. Secondly and thirdly, are there guidelines on what constitutes “properly equipped and staffed”? Finally, I assume that there is a difference between educational achievement and attainment, but I am not exactly clear on what it is.
*Lance, K. C. (2001). Proof of the power: Quality library media programs affect academic achievement. Multimedia Schools, 8(4), 14–16, 18, 20.