DEC Scan Journal : February 2011
Scan Vol 30 No 1 February 2011 35 and the girls felt their time could have been better spent. Student comments I have... developed an analytical voice needed for my historical arguments. I am glad that our processes are being marked as I feel... it motivated me to research and reflect more thoroughly than I have before. I found the notetaking grid forced me into summarising the information in a visual way so I knew I was not plagiarising. When it came to incor- porating such arguments into my own essay, it made it easier to distinguish that I was writing my own points. History study centre and Questia I will use in other tasks. I was really proud of my work because it was the most effort I have ever put into the research stage of a project and I felt that it was justified in the end. Student 2A I have become aware of more accurate and relevant information sites such as Questia and other school subscriptions. Student 2B The notetaking grid made the actual writing of the essay a lot less stressful because I knew I had all the information I needed. Student 2C I have also learnt how to properly use citations in my essay and establish a accurate reference list. This will be helpful to use in other tasks to avoid plagiarism. Student 2D The notetaking grids were a very useful and organised way to record and summarise information. It also got my bibliographic process out of the way, so when it came time to create my bibliography, it was half done for me already. These grids really kept my information organised and succinct, and gave me a clear view of where I was going and what else I needed to complete. Student 2E Major findings Research aim 1: To measure changes in knowledge as students pass through the stages of the Information search process, in terms of the type of state- ments students make about their topic, such as, whether they make factual statements, explanations or conclusions. Conclusions Todd (2006) found a pattern in students' knowledge construction which he described as an integrative approach where students did not see the task as one of just gathering facts at each stage, rather they manipulated these facts in a number of ways: building explanations, synthesizing facts into more abstract groupings, and consequently reducing the number of statements in their representations, organizing facts in more coherent ways, reflecting of facts to build positional, predictive conclusion statements. Most of the students in this small scale research project fit into this pattern, and we should be proud of the move towards deep knowledge exhibited in this project. Research aim 2: To find out what students find difficult when researching and whether they felt they had learnt how to overcome these difficulties. Conclusions There was evidence in our 2008 PDHPE Guided Inquiry to suggest that students only say that a research skill is easy, prior to actually doing it. When they said that locating is easy, this turned out not to be the case when they were actually doing it and looking at complex, biased and sometimes unreliable information. This is reinforced with this study, showing that there were no students who thought they had difficulty locating information at the outset, but it turned out as they progressed that locating the right information for the level of research they were at was a crucial obstacle. We can conclude that students need more work on how to search in an appropriate way for the stage they are at, using the concepts of preliminary, exploratory, comprehensive and summary searching that Kuhlthau (2007, p. 84) recommends. Essentially, this means: • using encyclopedias at initiation • moving on to books and Google at formulation • moving to the quality information available in online databases at collection • finishing with a summary search just prior to presentation. Research aim 3: To gather reflections of our students on the Information search process. Our students' comments are text book reflections of the ISP. It is of great value to students to know that the process they undertake every time they have a research task sees them undergoing the stages of the ISP. It is normal, for example, to feel overloaded and confused at formulation -- where students are either creating their own question in an open-ended GI, or in a more closed enquiry, formulating their own take on the information. It is, perhaps, self-evident that this small group of students demonstrated a second dip in the information process -- when they had to synthesise all, and create the final product. But most of them felt much more ready to write their essay than they normally do, because of the preparation that they did beforehand -- notetaking grids, ongoing support from teacher and teacher librarian, and lessons on referencing and keeping bibliographic details from the beginning. ...students need more work on how to search in an appropriate way for the stage they are at...