Students arrive in our classrooms with the latest technology in the form of laptops, phones, and tablets. Our assumption is that they will know how to use these tools to organize themselves, conduct research and learn. That is definitely not the case – leveraging apps, programs, calendars, documents, and websites all need to be taught if our students are to make the most of the technology tools that are available to them. Certainly, secondary students require these skills when they advance into tertiary education. Students may not get the instruction they need at University as it can be assumed that they arrive having had experiences of high-level research tasks in their last years of secondary school. Teachers in secondary school can also assume that students learn these skills in the middle school years when there is ‘more time’ and less content pressure. None of these assumptions are realistic and they always rely on someone else to teach the skills and tools required. In a workshop at IASL (International Association of School Librarianship) conference in 2018 Jamshid Beheshti from McGill University in Canada, gave some scary information about the research strategies of first-year students – they went straight to Google or their friends to find information (Bond). The conclusion of the study was to call for high school students to be better prepared for academic research, – using databases, evaluating websites, using citation tools with understanding (Bond).
Schools must make the time to teach their High School students the tools and strategies of sound academic research and allow them time to practice those skills with feedback and guidance. Simply showing students how to use a database, how to take notes from a source, how to use a citation generator once is not enough. Guided practice is more helpful. At Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone, New Jersey students were started with Guided Inquiry from grade 7 and each year revisited the process on a major unit of Inquiry (Oatman 58). In this school, the teachers and the Teacher Librarians (TLs)worked together to design the inquiry, deliver it and guide the students through the process (Oatman 58). The key to the student’s successful development of academic research school was the partnership between TL and teachers and the fact that the students do not do this once and are then expected to remember it. They revisit the skills and tools systematically throughout their secondary schooling and build their skills while being guided by their teachers and TL.
In a study conducted by Ryan Rafferty with first-year medical students, he found that instruction about library resources and giving students guidelines on research methods had the biggest impact on the quality of cited materials in the work the students produced (213). The instruction those students received related directly to their actual assignment and the works cited lists produced were analyzed to see the impact of the instruction and make any necessary improvements for next time (Rafferty 213). This kind of work involves the academic librarians of the University and the Teacher Librarians in schools can give the same high-level guidance and instruction. In fact, some schools are setting up partnerships with tertiary libraries to create and deliver a syllabus that explicitly teaches the research skills necessary for college-level inquiry (Oakleaf and Owen). IN their study on the value and impact of librarian’s interventions on student skills development Sue Shreeve and Jacqueline Chelin found that every time academic librarians actively assisted with student research the students completed the work with much more confidence in conducting searches (204)
Effective partnerships between TLs and teachers and TLs and students must be formed if we are to send our students to College with adequate skills in academic research that are expected and required. This takes time and energy, commitment for school leadership and staff who are experts at collaborating for the sake of student success.
Bond, Amanda. “3 steps before Google – research support.” Wondering at work, 8 May 2018, abond.edublogs.org/2018/05/08/3-steps-before-google-research-support/. Accessed 17 Apr. 2019.
Oakleaf, Megan, and Patricia L. Owen. “Closing the 12 – 13 Gap Together: School and College Librarians Supporting 21st Century Learners.” Teacher Librarian, vol. 37, no. 4, Apr. 2010, pp. 52–58. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=tfh&AN=50300767&site=ehost-live. Accessed 18 Apr. 2019.
Oatman, Eric. “Overwhelming Evidence: Now, There’s a Surefire Way to Show How Libraries Make a Big Difference in Student’s Lives.” School Library Journal, vol. 52, no. 1, Jan. 2006. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ755123&site=ehost-live. Accessed 18 Apr. 2019.
Rafferty, Ryan S. “The Impact of Library Instruction: Do First-Year Medical Students Use Library Resources Specifically Highlighted during Instructional Sessions?” Journal of the Medical Library Association, vol. 101, no. 3, July 2013, p. 213. EBSCOhost, doi:10.3163/1536-5050.101.3.011. Accessed 18 Apr. 2019.
Shreeve, Sue, and Jacqueline Chelin. “Value and Impact of Librarians’ Interventions on Student Skills Development.” New Review of Academic Librarianship, vol. 20, no. 2, 2014, pp. 204-32. EBSCOhost, web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&sid=c6483402-bd6f-44a4-a83e-3dc2fec43a57%40sessionmgr120. Accessed 7 Mar. 2019.