The Galileo Educational Network (GEN) defines/ describes inquiry as “a dynamic process of being open to wonder and puzzlement and coming to know and understand the world, and as such, it is a stance that pervades all aspects of life and is essential to the way in which knowledge is created”.
I would say, therefore, that we owe it to our pupils to help them make sense of what is going on in the news in a thoughtful and sensitive way, because if they are aware of something troubling they will think and worry about it with or without our hep. This, then, is a good example of inquiry as “a study into a worthy question, issue, problem or idea” (GEN), which may very well result in some sort of practical action, which would be a further benefit.
I happen to know that Elizabeth is away until tomorrow.
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.
The Empire State Information Fluency Continuum was initially developed in New York City under the auspices of the Office of Library Services and Director Barbara Stripling as the New York City Information Fluency Continuum in 2009.
It was re-imagined in 2019 under the leadership of Barbara Stripling to “adapt to the changing information, education, and technology environments, as well as the increasing diversity in … student populations”.
It currently serves 3.2 million students in 4,236 schools in New York State alone.
In my opinion the logic of the review as it was originally written has suffered somewhat from the editorial process.
Two very interesting topics in the Forum relating relating to school library education and training, both of which I will soon be updating, are Focus on Inquiry (started by Jennifer Branch-Mueller) and Academic school librarians (started by Blanche Woolls).
Thank you, Blanche, for this profound insight into the nature of what we do, or are supposed to be doing.
From Jacques Ellul I learned that history is the consequence of ideas.
So where, and at what point in the history of American school libraries, did the idea of the school librarian as essentially an academic librarian emerge from (or is this worded too strongly)?
And was it then the school librarian as academic librarian who gave shape to the school library as academic library through what they did? Or did the demands of the school library as academic library give shape to the school librarian as academic librarian?
Crucially, how then does the education and training of the school librarian as academic librarian come about? For example, you mentioned in your email to me that Peggy Sullivan was able to join you for the Louisville Symposium on 14 November, and that she was the first full-time faculty member hired to build a program for school librarians at the University of Pittsburgh. When was this, and were programs for school librarians in place at other universities by then, and were these programs for school librarians as academic librarians, or did that develop later?
I ask these many questions because we find ourselves in a moment when the idea that will produce the next chapter in our history of school libraries is emerging, and my great concern is that not all ideas about school libraries will produce a history that actually includes school libraries.
Furthermore, I am more convinced than I have ever been that the central idea upon which the future of our history of school libraries rests, and around which all other ideas about the school library must cohere, is the idea of the school librarian as academic librarian.
Finally, a confession … I recently got hold of School Librarianship: Past, Present, and Future(Alman, 2017), which includes a chapter on the development of school libraries in the United States (Weeks & Barlow), and I also have your Timeline of School Libraries from the draft of Symposium of the Greats: Wisdom from the Past & A Glimpse into the Future of School Libraries(Loertscher & Woolls, 2019). So, on some level, and given sufficient time, I imagine I could answer some/most/all of these questions for myself, but those answers would lack the insight that comes from your direct and personal experience. Please, therefore, do not take my questions as evidence of laziness.
Alman, S. W. (Ed.). (2017). School Librarianship: Past, Present, and Future. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
Loertscher, D. V., & Woolls, B. (Eds.). (2019). Symposium of the Greats: Wisdom from the Past & A Glimpse into the Future of School Libraries. Salt Lake City: Learning Commons Press.
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.