many Inquiry Learning models and many Information Literacy models (
follow this link to see a
sampling ), and there is a constant turnover as models appear and
disappear. I have heard it said that "all models are the same" and
"there is little difference", if this were true there would be no need
for the proliferation of models in these fields. Understanding of
Inquiry Learning and Information literacy has changed over the years, as
has pedagogy and our understanding of learning and teaching. As this
understanding changes so do available models. There are certainly
commonalities amongst many of the models and this is to be expected as
all the models address a a fairly common set of information, learning
and thinking skills.
that there are four major aspects that can be used to differentiate
between models, and I believe that many schools need to be far more
critical of the available models. The following three issues
should provide a sound basis for for schools that are looking for a
'good' model to implement, or to guide them as they develop their own
model, or to assist them in modifying a model that is already in use.
A good model should be
recursive rather than linear.
models, as they are presented to students are either linear in structure
or are presented visually as being linear. Good inquiry learning is
never going to be linear. Learning is about insights and connections and
learners will always be re-visiting aspects of the process.
Self Assessment and Review
should be integral aspects of a good model.
of models have an evaluation aspect at the end of the process, as they
there is also the issue of Review.
belongs in non-linear processes because this is what helps learners
decide 'where to next'. A learner should be able to consider and reflect
on how well they have gone with the stage or step just finished, and
then use that review to help them decide which part of the process the
need to go to next. As an example, perhaps a student has just finished
finding the answer to one of their questions. Review will now help them
to decide if that information has created the need to ask another
question, or it has shown the need to go back and revise and modify
their question, or if that information needs validation, or if they can
now go back to their original questions and start working on the next
one. A large number of models do not do this well, if at all.
models and processes include stages where learners 'communicate' or
'share' what they have found. When I critique models, one of the major
aspects I consider is related to the question "What are the
students being asked to do with the information they have found?"
look at a range of models there
seems to be three main ways this issue is dealt with.
1.. Many models simply ask students to feed back in
some way the found information and this approach is common. I also
believe that this approach dis-empowers
Inquiry Learning and
Information Literacy. I call it 'the gather/present approach'. In this
approach students research a topic, issue or need and then share back
what they have found ( see
Shoppers analogy ).
2.. Many models have been
developed because people have seen this as an issue and have appended
another stage on the end of an earlier model. Most of these models still
retain the 'present information' section and then have students do some
form of 'So what' or 'Now what' section added in. The problem I see with
this approach is that often the 'so what' is forced or weak because it
is really sitting in the model as an afterthought.
3.. A much smaller grouping
of models target usage and application of information from the start.
The whole process targets students finding, evaluating and applying
information to build understanding.
We need to look very
critically at the models we are using, developing or implementing to
make sure the process really does fit with our understanding of learning
models are NOT created equal. teachers and schools need to look very
critically at the models they are implementing and ensure that they are
doing the best possible for their students.