Previously I had recognised the importance of the role the Teacher Librarian (TL) plays in guiding and implementing research-based inquiry. I had used constructivist learning approaches and Blooms styled activities within the classroom and seen the positive effect and results from students guiding their own learning. However, before commencing this course I was not aware of the instructional guidelines described by Kuhlthau within the ISP model. I can see this model as being invaluable, both in the classroom and personally in my own studies. Critically reflecting on the processes and stages I have moved through within this course in researching, reading and writing assignments, has mirrored the stages that Kuhlthau has described. I have become more metagonitivly aware. My understanding of my own affective domain is deeper. I’m aware that the feeling of being overwhelmed and unsure mirrors that of my students in their research processes.
In addition to my new recognition of the learning processes, my skills and research techniques have also improved. I found the readings and instructional activities in the introduction to the course honed my research skills. With practice and experimentation, I developed a research process that resulted in faster, more accurate research results than I have used previously. The ability to access more accurate search results has also improved my information management skills. I have developed confidence in categorizing and storing information and sites that have been most beneficial for later use. The ability to collate and store this information will allow me to guide my students more successfully, assisting them when they require guidance on a particular topic. With this additional skill and knowledge I can now recognise how much time I have wasted trying to find relevant, current resources when studying previously. The ability to successfully manage databases, to catalog information, to utilise citation tools has also improved my learning and teaching processes.
The role of the TL is essential in educating both students and teachers within the school community to improve information literacy skills. There is a distinct need to teach students to use and identify resources effectively and responsibly. The readings throughout the course highlighted students’ inability to critically analyse and assess resources. I found these results worrying, in such a technological age. With access to a plethora of information we are failing our students if we do not teach them to think independently. Furthermore, this inability to critically analyse and assess sources was a cause of concern. In maintaining high expectations, had I failed to recognise students’ analytical skills? It was refreshing to see this critical reflection and questioning, interwoven through the variety of information literacy skill process that I discussed on my course blog. Students increasingly require the skills to navigate technology, react to changes and adapt thinking processes. The information literacy models (ILM) discussed achieved this successfully. The ability to work with information, to locate, evaluate and comprehend, not only the content of an article but its purpose, is invaluable. In utilising and analyzing this new information students also learn to link and shape new knowledge to pre-exiting schema making it more relevant and purposeful. As I developed my own knowledge and understanding through my education with this course, it further reinforced the value and necessity of implementing a successful information literacy model.
The course has reiterated the significance of utilising a whole school approach when implementing and maintaining a successful ILM. It has reinforced the need for TL’s to work in collaboration with peers in supporting and creating units of work that relate to students and are shaped around curriculum. The utilisation of the ILM should be encouraged in a diversity of situations. I now recognise, that information literacy is more than skills, it shapes lifelong learners. ILM encourages the ability to recognise, utilise and build cognition from a variety of media. Students can recognise their own knowledge and understanding, have the ability to recognise the need for additional information and have the skills to find and access it.
The role of the TL is less teacher directed than it has ever been. However, we have now become facilitators and experts on learning and information search and retrieval. There are times when we need to encourage critical reflection, and give guidance. This course has convinced me of the significance of maintaining and continuing my own knowledge. In having positive relationships with students, knowing how they learn best and how to support their learning. Quality teachers and TL all need to plan and structure quality lessons. The course has demonstrated how to not only become a better teacher, but a more informed, higher skilled learner.