DEC Scan Journal : February 2011
Scan Vol 30 No 1 February 2011 27 students can choose their own topics. In narrower tasks, the question needs to be constructivist in nature, forcing students to do more than transport information. Students need to transform the information they have gathered into knowledge. In GI, open- ended tasks should be connected with curriculum. They should seek to link to what Kuhltau (2007, p. 32--33) terms the First space, students' local and cultural knowledge, including Web 2.0, with Second space, the school curriculum -- the goals, standards, and learning outcomes at the base of what is taught. The aim is to engage students in research that creates the Third space, where students use out of school knowledge to make sense of the curriculum. Tasks which are go find out abouts... do not connect first and second spaces. They result in the transport of information with little deep understanding or interest. But curriculum-based tasks, aligned with students' interests and prior knowledge, can create the Third space. The Information search process (ISP) The Information search process (Figure 1) lies at the heart of GI. Because it is supported by a great deal of evidence, from studies carried out by Carol Kuhlthau, (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p .21) Ross Todd and others (Kuhlthau, Heinström & Todd, 2008), this model of information seeking and using behaviour is very telling. It is not a superimposed process; it describes the experience of thousands of researchers as they handle information. The diagram of the Information search process (Figure 1) shows the affective domain, which all researchers experience. Most noticeable is the dip which occurs at the exploration phase of an task, where the searcher goes into overload and experiences confusion, frustration and doubt. This is a critical zone of intervention by teachers and teacher librarians for students. Noticeable also is the length of time it takes to get to formulation of student understanding their take on the problem of the task. This applies whether the task is open-ended or not. Students at Loreto Kirribilli have responded well to The research river analogy (Appendix 1) for the ISP. This PowerPoint presentation aligns the stages of the ISP to the passage of a river to the sea, from small and weak beginnings, to basking in the shallows of information, to steadily getting deeper into the flow of information, to falling down the waterfall then plunging headlong into the dip (confusion/frustration/doubt), predicted by Kuhltau at the explo- ration phase. After that, the river streams through various paths to the sea, leaving behind much of its water, and dividing into many possible paths. The analogy has proved helpful to students in describing and experienc- ing their information process, as the research described below at Loreto highlights. Kuhlthau differentiates the types of searching students need to do at the different stages of the ISP (2007, p. 84). Students participating in the recent Year 11 historical investigations were specifically instructed in this structured searching approach (Figure 2), but the research shows they still have more to learn about this. The 2008 Association of Independent Schools (AIS) project The 2008 NSW Association of Independent Schools' project: guiding student inquiry and collecting data about student learning, was part of the 2008 NSW Association of Independent Schools/Catholic Education Commission Quality Teacher project. Twelve independent schools in Sydney, Figure 1 Model of the Information search process, Community information <comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm> The analogy has proved helpful to students in describing and experiencing their information process.