Hello, Susan, and welcome. The requirement to start with the research question was internal, but I seem to recall that the previous EE specification contributed to this expectation, if it didn’t actually create it. Even though we have realigned our EE timetable to more accurately reflect our growing understanding of the inquiry process (see E&L Memo 0 | Developing inquiring minds: a journey from information through knowledge to understanding), we still have some way to go in helping all supervisors to fully understand and effectively support this process, which is, as you suggest, the difference between finding information to answer a question (that may not even be your own) to discovering for yourself a question is that worth the effort of answering. I’d certainly be curious to hear more about your supervisor training and/or support.
Thanks for this excellent and important question, Ruth.
Citing and referencing is explicitly part of the Express stage, which is consistent with other models of the inquiry process and information literacy definitions; i.e., it is when sharing what I have found that acknowledging my intellectual and informational debt to others is formally required. In fact, our journey to FOSIL started with a search for a framework of information literacy skills that would help us to actually prepare our students for the IB DP EE requirements for students to cite and reference according to a recognised academic style. The Empire State Information Fluency Continuum, which fortuitously turned out to be a framework of inquiry skills and accompanying model of the inquiry process, locates citing and referencing at the following points in the framework:
Year 11: “Cites all sources used according to standard style formats”. We chose APA for the EE for a number of reasons.
Year 8: “Cites all sources used according to local style formats”. We chose APA as our house style for the same reasons and for consistency.
Year: 6: “Cites all sources used according to model provided by teacher” (includes librarian). As above.
However, because the Empire State Information Fluency Continuum, which FOSIL grew out of, is aimed at “building understanding and creating new knowledge through inquiry”, there is a concern with sources that runs through the entire Cycle:
Connect: What do I already know, which may require some investigation, and how certain am I of this knowledge?
Wonder: What don’t I know and/or what am I not certain of, and where might I find this out?
Investigate: We tried to make the concern with sources explicit in the description of this stage – “Knowing what scholarly resources are available and being able to use them effectively”.
Construct: While all of the stages are important, this stage is crucial as it shifts the emphasis from finding information to thinking with the information. Interestingly, because the emphasis is on what students think about the information that they have found in response to their informational need, so theirconcern with the intelligibility and reliability of their sources is slowly growing, and so is their desire to point his out. This is addressing academic honesty in a proactive and positive way. Also, we tried to make the concern with sources explicit in the description of this stage – “Building an accurate understanding based on factual evidence”.
Express. This is where citing and referencing is explicitly located. It is worth pointing out here that when we first started, most colleagues viewed citing and referencing as a technical skill, and there is a technical element to it, but it is more properly an academic skill – working with other people’s ideas and information – that students need to be taught and given opportunities to practice in in all academic disciplines (subjects). In our experience, most cases of academic dishonesty are a consequence of students lacking proficiency in this academic skill (especially if their preparation for the EE has been GCSEs). The majority of colleagues are now starting to recognize this, and again, this is addressing academic honesty in a proactive and positive way. Also, we tried to make the concern with sources explicit in the description of this stage – “Making the most compelling case given your evidence and audience”.
Reflect. As a reflection on the process and outcome, a concern with academic honesty is implicit.
More concretely, the resources that we have been developing to enable the stages in the process make this concern with academic honesty explicit and unavoidable. The most obvious example is the Investigative Journal (follow link for downloadable versions of our current Lower School – Years 6-8, Middle School – Years 9-11, and Upper School – Years 12-13, versions. Images below.), which is designed to help students think (Construct) with the information that they have found (Investigate). However, as they will need to formally cite and reference their sources (Express), this is included in the Investigative Journal. This is having the effect of slowly normalizing this complex behavior from Year 6 through to Year 13, as well as for colleagues, and, again, this is addressing academic honesty in a proactive and positive way.
As for the peer marking, I think that this is an excellent idea, especially if the focus is on assessing [and rewarding] the quality of each other’s sources rather than ‘catching each other out’ for academic dishonesty, which I think is a small but significant shift in emphasis with far-reaching consequences.
What is knowledge and how do we become knowledgeable, which for us then also becomes what our role is in children becoming knowledgeable.
This may seem “all abstract and philosophical,” but I am only now beginning to appreciate how debilitating it is for us not to have command of words like this (and pedagogy, which Seymour Papert defined simply as the method and practice of teaching) in our working vocabulary, because what we believe knowledge is and how we become knowledgeable, or learn, subtly but profoundly determines what we do and how we go about doing it.
This was hauntingly brought home to me when watching Iris, the film about British writer and philosopher Iris Murdoch. At one terrifying point in the film, as Alzheimer’s disease began to dissolve the connection between words and their meaning, she asks, “Without words, how does one think?”
So, if we are in the business of knowledge and learning, yet do not have clarity about what we understand by knowledge and how children learn, then how do we think about and reflect on what we do. Even worse, how do we effectively collaborate with our colleagues outside of the library to create the optimal conditions for learning that you refer to.
Something to think about – the fact that a model of the inquiry process, or inquiry more broadly, has brought this community into being, speaks volumes about what we believe knowledge is and how children learn, and what our role in that learning is, even if we can’t yet articulate this clearly.
To further clarify what I mean by the lack of a body of professional knowledge underpinning school librarianship in this country, please see below for the letter that Jenny Toerien wrote to Information Professional, the magazine of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, which was published on 28 June 2018 and is reprinted here with permission.
Your view: Why isn’t it possible to study school librarianship?
I would like to comment on the contrast and connection between two articles in the latest fascinating and informative edition of Information Professional (April-May 2018), particularly in the light of the new Great School Libraries campaign.
Elizabeth Hutchinson, backed up by her outstanding work with Guernsey Schools’ Library Service, wrote a passionate portrayal of school librarians as dynamic, innovative, professional experts who have a vital contribution to make in an age where even teachers can often need help with basic information literacy skills (Why do teachers need school librarians?), while Rob Mackinlay (Future LIS: debating the challenges) reported on the views of 10 leading UK institutions offering CILIP accredited Library and Information Science courses.
In arguing for greater collaboration between teachers and library staff, Elizabeth describes school library staff as highly-qualified professionals who bring information literacy expertise to the conversation and, in my view, should be regarded as co-educators and educational partners with teaching staff.
For me this contrasted starkly with a question asked in the article “Future LIS: debating the challenges” as to “whether the profession and its learning providers are too focused on a postgraduate-heavy profession.” There was a range of different views as to whether or not it would be desirable to “[dilute] the profession’s postgraduate density”, but for me the article highlighted and reminded me of a particular problem for school librarians. If we are asking teachers, 98.5 per cent of whom are qualified to degree level or higher (UK Department for Education, School Workforce in England: November 2016, https://bit.ly/2rZjFqJ), to treat us as professional equals, recognise our area of expertise and collaborate with us in the pursuit of educational excellence, then we need to be at least as qualified as they are.
The problem is that it is not actually possible to study school librarianship in this country, even as an optional module. Of the 16 CILIP-accredited institutions, offering almost 40 postgraduate courses between them, the only one that offers even one module (in English) on school librarianship (titled “Teacher Librarianship”) is the University of Hong Kong and (as far as I can tell) this qualification is not available by distance. The situation in undergraduate qualifications is at least as bad.
Learning on the job
My husband and I both entered school librarianship from within teaching and are both qualified teachers as well as qualified librarians. While I am certainly not suggesting that dual qualification should be essential for school librarians (although I note that in countries where school librarianship is particularly strong, such as Australia and the United States, it is the norm) it seems inconceivable to me that school librarians should have to learn everything they need to know about schools and education “on the job”, simply because they are not offered any opportunities to learn whilst training. In fact, my husband and I both found that attempting to ground our postgraduate assignments in our school settings was actually a disadvantage because that setting was so poorly understood in library schools.
Shaping the future
School libraries are vitally important both for the nation and the profession, because school may be the only occasion in some people’s lives when they will encounter a library/librarian, particularly if they do not go on to tertiary education. All information sectors are important, but school libraries at their best should be playing a vital role in shaping the future of every child in the country – and therefore every future member of society.
All children deserve great libraries, and all school libraries deserve great librarians (of whom there are many, despite the odds) – why aren’t our library schools interested in training them?
This is a very impotant distinction that we absolutley have to get right, and one that I have been wrestling with since my journey from a framework of information literacy skills to a framework of inquiry skills first began.
At the level of definition (see Glossary), inquiry is an approach to learning, and by extension teaching, that aims at students increasing their understanding.
By contrast, information literacy appears to be central to a number of literacies, such as digital literacy, that enable inquiry.
While Chris is correct that, up to a point, “FOSIL provides a framework that allows teachers and librarians to collaborate together in their support of pupil inquiry without a shared technical vocabulary,” and both of you are correct to warn against unnecessarily complicating matters through language, the absence of at least a basic shared technical vocabulary will hamper effective collaboration going forward. The question, then, is what words belong in this vocabulary? Clearly we need ‘inquiry’ and ‘information literacy’, and I would be prepared to make a case for ‘acquiry’, even if we don’t ultimately accept it. To facilitate discussion of this emerging vocabulary we have created a Glossary.
The distinction between ‘graduate/executive technician’ and ‘professional’ is interesting and highlights a pressing issue facing school librarians, which Elizabeth touches on, which is that there is not a body of professional knowledge underpinning school librarianship in this country. This means that even though we may be professionally qualified, we are not able to put into effect shared rules for school library practice, because they do not exist, let alone consult the theory that generated the rules in the first place. Inquiry complicates this further, because I’m guessing that inquiry does not form part of the professional knowledge of teachers in this country?
Chris, would you elaborate on what you mean by “graduate technician,” and might a librarian also function as one?
More broadly, this reminds me of the Monteith College Library Experiment at Wayne State University in the 1960s (reference and historical context to follow). Although dated in some respects, it remains instructive due to the fact that it was a deliberate and sustained attempt to “develop a more vital relationship between the library and college teaching,” the aim of which was “student practice and skill in both ‘acquiry’ (the assembling of facts and information) and ‘inquiry’ (the examination and analysis of the facts)”.
Would adding acquiry to our vocabulary alongside inquiry be helpful? I ask because acquiry might help us better understand what “skill set” librarians bring to the inquiry process?
Having said this, do we then also need to elaborate on what we mean by pedagogical expertise in relation to inquiry?