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School Libraries as Knowledge Spaces: Connections and Actions; Outcomes and Evidence. DR ROSS TODD Associate Professor Department of Library and Information science Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey SLAV CONFERENCE “Assessing the Evidence

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school libraries as knowledge spaces connections and actions outcomes and evidence
School Libraries as Knowledge Spaces:Connections and Actions;Outcomes and Evidence


Associate Professor

Department of Library and

Information science

Rutgers, The State University

of New Jersey

SLAV CONFERENCE“Assessing the Evidence

Assessing the Learning”

outline hallmarks of victorian school libraries
Outline:Hallmarks of Victorian School Libraries

CONNECTIONS:Intellectual / information scaffolds for learning

ACTIONS: Inquiry approaches to teaching and learning

OUTCOMES: Making a real difference to student learning

EVIDENCE:Charting the outcomes; demonstrating the role and power of the school library


the hole truth
The Hole Truth

Consider the Drill

the hole truth1
The Hole Truth

Consider the Drill

People don't buy a 1.0 cm drill bit because they want 1.0 cm drill bit, they buy a 1.0 cm drill bit because they want to create a 1.0 cm hole.

the hole truth2
The Hole Truth

Consider the school Library:

School administrators and teachers aren't interested in a good library because they want good libraries or good teacher-librarians. They're interested in libraries because they want students to read better, to research effectively, to discover new ideas, learn more, and to improve achievement.

the hole truth3
The Hole Truth
  • Buying the drill is an expense
  • Creating the hole is an investment
  • Drills are boring: the infrastructure
  • The focus is the hole; the space
  • The school library: from infrastructure and information to knowledge; from place to space
what is your focus
What is your focus?
  • The Drill:

the place? the infrastructure? the collection? the technology? the role? the image?

  • The Hole:
  • student achievement? student learning outcomes? student engagement with information? knowledge and understanding?
hallmarks of a victorian school library




Staffing, Positions

& Image

Buildings & Infrastructure



Knowledge construction and human understanding, implemented through a constructivist, inquiry-based framework

Actions and evidences that show that it makes a difference to student learning

Hallmarks of a Victorian School Library
shifting the focus of school libraries

From: collections, position and advocacy

Through: connections, actions and evidence-based practice centering on a shared philosophy and process of inquiry learning

To: making a real difference to student learning outcomes


knowledge and understanding

A thinking community

"If we always see as we've always seen, we'll always be as we've always been, and always do as we've always done"

(Author unknown)

school libraries 3 fundamental beliefs
School Libraries: 3 Fundamental Beliefs
  • Information makes a difference to people.
  • Making a difference does not happen by chance: Teaching-learning role is the central dimension of the professional role of teacher-librarians
  • Learning outcomes matter: belief that all students can learn, and develop new understandings, and demonstrate outcomes
1 information makes a difference to people
1. Information Makes a Difference to People
  • “Effects” conception of information
  • Move from a focus on “thing” and its management to “effect” = outcome
  • Posits that people engage actively / highly selectively with information that surrounds them to some effect – a person’s existing knowledge is changed or transformed in some way.
  • “Effects” orientation: faithful to Greek / Latin roots of “information”: in = within; formere = to shape or form; that is, information’s effect is inward forming.
2 teaching learning role is the central dimension of the professional role of teacher librarians
2. Teaching-learning role is the central dimension of the professional role of teacher-librarians
  • IFLA / UNESCO Manifesto for School Libraries: The core school library services center on “supporting and enhancing educational goals as outlined in the school's mission and curriculum”
  • Collaboration with individual teachers in designing authentic learning tasks and assessments and integrating the information and communication abilities required to meet subject matter goals and standards
  • Provide learning experiences that encourage students and others to become discriminating consumers and skilled creators of knowledge.
the reality
The reality

Survey of Principals 2002

  • 80% of principals believe that the school library and teacher-librarian play a key role in the school
  • 99% of principals believe that despite the growth of the Internet, school libraries will remain important in the school
  • 97% of principals believe that the school library plays a positive role in the overall value of the school
  • 94% of principals believe that there is a direct correlation between the strength and effectiveness of the school library and an increase in student achievement
the reality1
The reality
  • 76% of principals identified that their teacher-librarian worked with classroom teachers as needed;
  • 50% of principals saw their teacher-librarians working in the classroom
  • 52% of principals saw the role of the teacher-librarian to be that of “caretaker” of the library
focus on the hole instead of the drill what concerns school librarians australian survey 2001
Impact of technology on library and role

Perceived lack of understanding of nature and dimensions of role

Perceived lack of value, importance and appreciation

Negative perceptions of image

Perceived lack of support for role

Not able to do the job I want to

Perceived low status

Advocacy for position


Professional development

Student learning-processes and outcomes

Focus on the Hole instead of the DrillWhat Concerns School Librarians? Australian Survey 2001
a preferred future 3 challenges
  • Integration of information literacy and information technology into curriculum units: development of conceptual, technical, and evaluative processes / scaffolds that underpin inquiry learning
  • Constructivist, inquiry-based approaches to learning: building knowledge and understanding
  • Evidence-based practice: demonstrating and documenting how the school library program makes a difference to student learning
the research evidence
The Research Evidence
  • Macro-Research: Eg. In USA by Keith Curry Lance and colleagues – focus on broad relationship of various library dimensions to student achievement
  • Micro-Research: International: Seeks to identify student’s use of information, information skills development, reading
lance usa findings
Lance: USA Findings

State test scores increase as teacher-librarians specifically spend more time:

  • planning cooperatively with teachers
  • identifying materials for teachers
  • teaching information literacy to students
  • providing in-service training to teachers
  • managing a computer network through which library’s learning program reaches beyond its own walls to classrooms, labs and offices
the micro research evidence
The Micro-Research Evidence
  • Teaching information skills results in improved curriculum performance
  • A process approach results in students with more positive attitudes to learning, increased engagement in the learning environment, and more positive perceptions of themselves as constructive learners.
  • Teaching information skills is most effective when it is integrated into flexibly delivered classroom instruction at the point of need.
  • Teaching information skills is most effective when embedded in a constructivist, inquiry approach
other research evidence
Other Research Evidence
  • Active reading programs foster higher levels of reading, comprehension, vocabulary development and language skills.
  • There are benefits to students when school and public libraries communicate and co-operate more effectively.
  • Successful school library programs gather meaningful and systematic feedback on program impacts.
  • School leaders tend to be more supportive when they can see the library actively engaged in the teaching and learning process, and they see the difference this makes.

The Research evidence – I.T.

  • Significant student learning dilemmas:
  • Getting a focus on their search and structuring an appropriate search strategy (conceptual processes)
  • Working with search engines (technical processes)
  • Critiquing web sites and making quality assessments of the information (evaluative processes)
  • Moving from relevant web sites to pertinent web sites
  • Constructing personal responses that demonstrate development of understanding (conceptual processes)
  • Expectation of technology to make up for student weaknesses
  • Information management issues: managing search process, time, workloads, deadlines

The Research evidence – I.T.

Every research study published 1996-2002 that focuses on the integration of information technology into learning highlights one key implication: the development of the intellectual and technical scaffolds for engaging with information:

pedagogical intervention and the development of a community of thinkers

can we believe what we see
Can we believe what we see?


from information literacy to knowledge construction
From Information Literacy to Knowledge Construction

Information literacy instruction is part of making actionable all the information and knowledge that a school possesses or can access.



from information literacy to knowledge construction1
From Information Literacy to Knowledge Construction

Information literacy instruction is part of making actionable all the information and knowledge that a school possesses or can access.


‘DOING’ information skills is not the answer.

The development of an information literate student is integral to BECOMING and BEING

by developing information literacy skills what do we want students to become
By developing information literacy skills, what do we want students to become?
  • The destination is not an information literature student, but rather, the development of a knowledgeable and knowing person, one who is able to engage effectively with a rich and complex information world, and who is able to develop new understandings, insights and ideas.
  • The development and use of human knowing, the construction of understanding and meaning is what learning is all about, and that defines the central purpose of the school library
Empowerment, connectivity, engagement, and interactivity define the actions and practices of the school library, and their outcome is knowledge construction: new meanings, new understandings, new perspectives
from information skills instruction to an inquiry approach to learning

Focuses on the process of thinking that builds understandings by engaging students in stimulating encounters with information and ideas.

Students learn by constructing their own understandings of these experiences by building on what they already know to form a personal perspective of the world.

The process of construction is an active ongoing process of learning that continues throughout life.

characteristics of inquiry based learning
Characteristics of Inquiry-Based Learning
  • Students motivated to know
  • Students able to raise the focus questions that lead to new knowledge: “I need to know more”
  • Students own the search process and its outcome – they know why they are in the library
  • Supported by information skills that provide scaffolds for connecting and engaging with information
  • Conversation and sharing of ideas throughout the searching process
  • Construction of personal understanding from diverse perspectives: another part of their world has been opened
challenges of inquiry based learning
Challenges of Inquiry-Based Learning
  • Moving beyond “doing information skills” or treating “information skills” as a laundry list
  • The critical role of “exploration” and “formulation” in the search process: making provision for situations that build background knowledge and promote seeking a focus during a search
  • Developing formal interventions which enable students to stay focused and not wander away from the learning task
  • Engaging students who perceive task of searching as primarily one of gathering information to a task of forming a focused perspective from the information encountered
Model of the Information Search Process

Tasks Initiation Selection Exploration Formulation Collection Presentation


Feelings uncertainly optimism confusion clarity sense of satisfaction or

(affective) frustration direction/ disappointment

doubt confidence

Thoughts vague-------------------------------------→focused

(cognitive) -----------------------------------------------→

increased interest

Actions seeking relevant information----------------------------→seeking pertinent information

(physical) exploring documenting

Professor Carol Kuhlthau

school libraries empowering learning the evidence
School Libraries Empowering Learning: The Evidence
  • Making concrete the links between library and learning
  • Making concrete the links between information access and provision and growth of knowledge
  • Practices that demonstrate tangible power of our contribution to school’s learning goals
  • Local, immediate evidence: local successes, local improvements
origins of ebp
Origins of EBP
  • New paradigm for professional service
  • 1990s – Medicine and Health Care fields
  • “Duty of Care”, “Informed Decision Making” “Optimal Outcomes”
  • Commitment to making a tangible difference to the lives of people
  • Concept now strong in professional arenas such as education, social work, law
evidence based practice two key aspects
Evidence-Based PracticeTwo Key aspects
  • Conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best research findings in making decisions about the performance of your role and understanding the learning needs of your students

Combining professional expertise, insight, experience and leadership with ability to collect, interpret, and integrate valid research evidence to ensure significant outcomes

teacher librarians and research
Teacher-Librarians and Research
  • Librarians’ use of research is low (McClure & Bishop, 1989, Turner, 2002).
  • Applied research that seeks to resolve operational concerns is most widely used.
  • Research is not consulted because it is perceived to inadequately address the real concerns of practice.
  • Research not presented in ways that foster understanding and application.
  • To busy to read research.
teacher librarians and research principal s study
Teacher-Librarians and research: Principal’s study
  • 33% of principals said that the school librarian made them familiar with current research of library programs and student achievement
  • 35% of principals were made familiar with current research on library programs and reading development
not engaging in the research of our profession
Not Engaging in the Research of our Profession
  • Devalues both the profession as a thinking and informed profession;
  • Cuts off the profession from advances in knowledge which shape sound practice;
  • A profession without reflective practitioners willing to learn about the advances in research in the field is a blinkered profession, one that is disconnected from opportunities for constructing best practice the school library as central to the learning process.
research in teacher librarianship prof ken haycock
Research in Teacher-Librarianship : Prof. Ken Haycock

“Learn from our research and build on its precept in order to become the force for excellence that is within our grasp. We have evidence that we can make a difference through cooperative program planning and team teaching and flexible scheduling; we have the principles for the effective initiation, implementation and institutionalization of change.

Now we need only do it”.

the research challenge
The Research Challenge
  • Urgent need to analyse and synthesise the emerging body of information-learning research into meaningful generalizations with practical utility for the whole school
  • teacher-librarians, as the information literate experts (with information literacy competencies centring on the ability to analyse, organize, synthesise and evaluate information, and especially the information of their discipline) can surely play a central role here, bringing insights as the reflective practitioners to the research and its outcomes for practice.
evidence based practice two key aspects 2
Evidence-Based PracticeTwo Key aspects 2

Ensuring that your daily efforts put some focus on learning outcomes evaluation that gathers meaningful and systematic evidence on dimensions of teaching and learning that matter to the school and its support community

= Evidences that clearly convey that learning outcomes of your school are continuing to improve

outcomes based education
Outcomes-Based Education
  • Emphasis given to specifying learning outcomes, establishing measurable indicators of these outcomes, providing feedback on achievement of outcomes
  • “Method of teaching that focuses on what students can do after they are actually taught”(Lorenzen, 1999)
  • “Learner-centered, results-oriented system founded on belief that all individuals can learn” (Towers, 1996)
  • “Clear, observable demonstrations of student learning that occur after a significant sent of learning experiences” (Spady & Marshall, 1996)
evidence based practice
Evidence-Based Practice

Gathering evidence in YOUR local school

You are able to provide convincing evidence that answers these questions:

“What differences do my school library and its learning initiatives make to

student learning outcomes?

“What are the differences, the tangible learning outcomes and learning benefits of my school library”?

ebp issues and concerns
EBP – Issues and Concerns
  • Accountability: Taking responsibility for the performance of students on achievement measures or other types of educational outcomes
  • Threat to professional authority and autonomy; it questions authority and curtails professional freedom
  • Perception that roles and responsibilities are immune from accountability calls
  • Fear of exposing what isn’t happening when matched against role and responsibility statements
  • “Proving our worth”: Push to get rid of teacher-librarians by publicly showing that their involvement in collaborative curriculum initiatives is quite low
i have to be a researcher
  • EBP demands precision in identifying learning outcomes, establishing indicators, analysing and synthesising evidence to establish specific achievements in learning outcomes
  • intellectual skills required to undertake evidence-based practice are not formal quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and complex statistical analyses
evidence based practice is
Evidence-Based Practice is …
  • Examining and identifying specific student learning goals and needs
  • Selecting appropriate learning outcomes
  • Identifying indicators of these outcomes
  • Establishing systematic approaches to locating and gathering evidence of achieving learning outcomes
  • Analysing and synthesising the evidence
  • Presenting and celebrating the learning outcomes
Evidence-based practice is about IDENTIFYING, LOCATING, SELECTING, ORGANISING, PRESENTING and ASSESSING INFORMATION. The information process that has guided the information literacy initiatives of school libraries and which has been the espoused educational platform for almost two decades is the very process of evidence-based practice.
  • Evidence-based practice is thus a call for teacher- librarians to be pedagogical exemplars of their rhetoric – to practice what they preach.
ebp and lifelong learning
  • “Our goal is lifelong learning, so how can we identify outcomes”?
  • Lifelong learning is not some distant, elusive endpoint, but a process made up of multiple moments in time, from now till then
  • Providing learners with explicit feedback on how they are learning in their formative years is fundamental to effective teaching and learning
ebp detracts from the job
  • Concerns about limited staff, budget
  • Not able to get my job done as it is, without taking on board EBP
  • This begs TWO questions:

What is my job?

What are the potential implications and outcomes of not engaging in EBP?

If there is no personal motivation to engage in in professional initiatives that enable the profession to construct its preferred future, then we need to consider why we are in it, and what we might be better of doing

benefits of ebp
Benefits of EBP
  • Articulates concrete links between library’s initiatives and learning outcomes
  • Shows how library can play a key role in shaping attitudes, values, and development of self-concept
  • Models information process to teaching colleagues
  • Basis for targeting time, energies and scarce resources
  • Helps you not to do things that do not work or that do not matter
  • Reflective, iterative process of informing instructional process: it informs, not misleads or detracts from day-to-day practice
  • Job satisfaction and confidence in the central role that library plays in the school
benefits of ebp1
Benefits of EBP
  • Provides evidence at local school level that the school library program makes a difference to student learning outcomes
  • Moves beyond anecdotal, guess work, hunches,advocacy, touting research findings not connected to local actions
  • Takes away the uncertainty surrounding role, value and position
seeing is believing
Seeing is Believing

“Many people, including educators, are suspicious of research and researchers. Research conducted closer to home is more likely to be considered and perhaps to be viewed as trustworthy”

(Oberg, Access, 2001)

but the principal won t listen1
But the Principal Won’t Listen!!!

Then tell someone who cares

collecting the evidence
Collecting the Evidence
  • Identify specific learning outcomes
  • Establish indicators of outcomes
  • Gather evidence: through assessment: test, assignment, project scores; checklists, rubrics, journals, portfolios; library data, system wide test scores; other data collection instruments used by schools
  • Systematic analysis and synthesis of evidence
  • Establish clear statements of outcomes
  • Inform school community – and celebrate
  • Reflect on evidence to improve teaching approaches
local evidence
  • Not a cook book approach
  • Will vary from school to school
  • Acknowledges and integrates local processes, ways of doing
  • Not just assessment; it is analyses and syntheses of assessment to create learning outcomes profiles, and articulate differences and impacts
  • Building strategies into collaborative initiatives that enable you to show the impact / outcomes
alternatives to evidence
Beating around the bush

Jumping to conclusions

Throwing my weight around

Dragging my heals

Pushing my luck

Making mountains out of molehills

Bending over backwards

Jumping on the bandwagon

Running around in circles

Mouthing on

Pulling out the stops

Adding fuel to the fire

Going over the edge

Picking up the pieces

Alternatives to Evidence

My Vision for Librarians and School Libraries

  • Inquiry learning is the central philosophy and practice of school library
  • The school library an open invitation for mystery, intrigue, discovery - an invitation to dance the “knowledge dance”
  • Some focus on measuring student outcomes
  • Strong evidence that we make a difference to student learning outcomes
leadership is action not position












Leadership is action, not position
bj rk new worlds in selmasongs album
Björk“New Worlds” in “Selmasongs” album

“If living is seeing

I’m holding my breath

In wonder – I wonder

What happens next?

A new world, a new day to see”