As an observer of the ILA I did not develop the lessons nor was I able to influence the direction or outcome of teaching and learning
The definition of Guided Inquiry I have used as foundational for the analysis of the ILA I observed is:
“Guided inquiry is an approach or methodology which allows students to seek and engage with a variety of ideas to increase their understanding in pursuit of knowledge and greater awareness. Guided inquiry is a planned, supervised and targeted intervention into developing information literacy and enhancing learning. This approach or methodology to learning provides a means by which teachers are able to tailor learning experiences and opportunities, resources and processes to the needs and abilities of each student according to intended curriculum learning outcomes.”
Level of Inquiry of the ILA
Though researchers such as Todd (2006) and Kuhlthau, Maniotes and Caspari (2007) provide evidence showing the importance of using an inquiry method in the classroom, “the norm in many classrooms remains teaching practice that results in rote learning and regurgitated facts” (Harada & Yoshina 2004, p. 22). Though maybe harsh to refer to this ILA as rote learning, it displays many of the qualities. It is teacher-directed and structured. The teacher has posed the questions and prescribed the procedure.
Inquiry Questioning Frameworks
Therefore the process of inquiry was stifled due to a pre-determined set of questions, such as ‘When and why did they come?’ or ‘Where did they settle?’ The students focus was on finding the ‘right’ answer to the question rather than asking the question themselves. A guided inquiry framework would engage students with the process of discovering the questions while being guided by the teacher. As the foundation which this teacher builds her pedagogy upon lays in transmission methods, the students missed out on opportunities for higher order learning and critical thinking. This was observed in the method the students worked, where questions were overwhelmingly about how to find the information in opposition to questions involving the topic.
Information Seeking Model
The model which closest reflects this ILA in definition is ‘The Big 6’ model. While I believe this unit of work reflects the ‘bird unit’ model, I also believe the teacher’s intent was ‘inquiry’. Therefore I have chosen to incorporate this model, as it does fit the intent. The interpretation of the Big 6 model is diagrammatically more literal than the other models in that it describes what rather than who, how, where and why of the inquiry process.
Task Definition – Students were given an overview of the task. Questions to be completed in a booklet were prescribed. However, choice of immigrant group was the student’s decision.
Information Seeking Strategies – Students were presented with books selected by the TL and URLs chosen by the teacher. Students were encouraged to find other relevant websites.
Location and Access – Students were given time and access to computers in the lab.
Use of Information – Relevant information was extracted, sorted and selected through note-taking and entered into their booklets. A first draft was edited by the teacher and subsequent corrections made by the students.
Synthesis – Information was then synthesized onto a poster and palm cards and presented via a 3 minute presentation to the class.
Evaluation – Judge the product and judge the process. In this instance, evaluation and assessment was judged through a rubric and there was no evaluation or reflection on the process, by the students.
Against the GeST Windows model of information literacy, this ILA is situated in the Generic window where “information literacy is seen as a set of discrete skills and processes used for finding and managing information” (Lupton & Bruce 2010, p. 11). In this ILA texts and images were gathered using books and websites. Information was then evaluated and synthesised before being assessed via a standardized rubric.
This ILA has very close ties to the Australian Curriculum where the purpose of this assessment is to make judgments about student’s abilities to research, collect, analyse and draw conclusions about historical sources. Against this statement of purpose this ILA meets specifications. However in analyzing the ILA against the curriculum it is necessary to discriminate between the guide or document which is the curriculum and the process by which it is taught. Therefore, while the national curriculum provides a guide to the scope and sequence of teaching history, I agree with Lupton (2013) where she writes “The pedagogy of inquiry is the teacher’s responsibility” (p. 27).
Reflection on Analysis
In thinking about this analysis of the ILA, I get the overwhelming sense that I have visited a doctor and been given a prescription. The teacher as doctor tells her student/patient what they need to do to get a good mark/health and provides a booklet/script which must be followed in order to achieve this goal.
Perhaps there is merit in this method. After all the teacher of this ILA could rightfully tick off a set of boxes, be it from a rubric, standards or continua, which tell her this unit was a success. Curriculum objectives have been met, students have gathered, synthesized and presented this information and assessment successfully completed. I however, have marked it a complete fail, which of course begs the question, why?
The standards by which I have marked are different to the standards used by this teacher. By consciously, or unconsciously adopting a model of teaching which reflects the “Bird” unit where the focus is on “product construction rather than knowledge construction” (Todd 2012, slide 10), this unit has been built upon a false premise of what inquiry is.
With the theoretical underpinnings of constructivism, social construction and zones of intervention alongside evidence-based practice, I therefore recommend an ILA based on Kuhlthau’s Model of Guided Inquiry.
“In Guided Inquiry the main objective is to go beyond fact finding to synthesize and assimilate facts to construct new ideas and deep understanding. It’s not just fact finding, but rather active interpretation and learning” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari 2007, p. 22)
Through engaging with a pedagogy which embraces this model of teaching, students will be better prepared and able to strive towards the transformative and expressive windows of Bruce and Lupton’s GeST windows model (2010) and become valued and valuable 21st century citizens.
Go to My Recommendations.
(Where references are not hyperlinked)
Kuhlthau, C., Caspari, A., & Maniotes, L. (2007). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.
Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, (2012). Guided inquiry design : a framework for inquiry in your school. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited
Lupton, Mandy (2013) Inquiry pedagogy and the Australian Curriculum. Primary and Middle Years Educator, 11(2), 23-29.
Lupton, Mandy and Bruce, Christine. (2010). Chapter 1 : Windows on Information Literacy Worlds : Generic, Situated and Transformative Perspectives in Lloyd, A., and Talja, S., Practising information literacy : bringing theories of learning, practice and information literacy together. Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, 3-27.