Returning to a K-12 school environment after several years’ teaching at a Masters’ level at University has given me interesting insights into the way younger students engage with the research process.
At different stages through their Primary/Elementary years, students are given fantastic opportunities to develop a variety of research skills – they are explicitly taught how to take notes from an information source, they are introduced to the concept of acknowledging the work of others by incorporating a bibliography in their simple research projects, and they spend time examining a host of websites to determine what indicates quality and credibility.
When they move onto Secondary School, and are suddenly asked to ‘research’, it seems as though all of these wonderful lessons never really happened. Questions from the teacher such as ‘why should we reference?’ and ‘how do we know this source is credible?’ are met with blank stares and a deafening silence.
What I feel has been missing in the leap between Primary/Elementary and Secondary school is the idea that all of these skills, focused on explicitly in earlier years, have not been knitted together into the information search (research) process. A stand-alone note-taking class, or a targeted focus on writing a bibliography does not present the same challenge as a research question and the expectation that 1000 words will be produced in response, along with intext references from credible sources and an accurately structured reference list.
Therefore, I’ve put together this Libguide, which features a series of interactive infographics, in an attempt to collate and draw together the information search process into a series of easily understood stages. Of course, we know that this process is iterative, and that students will move backward and forward through the stages as they build their responses (and hopefully their knowledge and experience). However by presenting the entire process, chunked into blocks and yet interconnected, it is my hope that students will be able to see how the individual, seemingly isolated skills they have been learning during their schooling do, in fact, fit within a larger, more meaningful scheme.
Here is the Libguide; I’ve drawn on the resources of the fabulous Research Guide pages of the National Library of Victoria for the dot points at each stage, but have also curated a selection of videos and other resources within infographics, designed to offer students a quick check in point whenever they feel unsure of their next step on the process.
The guide is a work in progress, and is yet to be completed…in fact, it may never be completed, as resources change, students needs alter and information is discovered. I would love to know your thoughts on how you feel it might be used, whether it is in fact useful, and if there is anything else that could be added to enrich and improve the resource.