Informed learning practice in a secondary school: A participatory action research case study

Anne Whisken

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    This thesis reports a study which investigated how secondary school teacher practice might be transformed to bridge the gap between information literacy theory and practice. The study consisted of a Participatory Action Research (PAR) multiple case study in an independent secondary school. Its participants used Christine Bruce’s (2008) Informed Learning to explore ways that explicit attention might be brought to use of information for discipline learning. It was found that the combined transformative processes of PAR and Informed Learning provided powerful professional development for these secondary teachers. Participants changed their views of information literacy education (ILE) such that they saw it as a problem for their own practices and with that new approach they looked for ways to take on responsibility for its teaching. This produced changes in ILE practice within the school.
    Teachers in the study experienced Informed Learning PAR as an effective and satisfying way of learning. They developed new understandings about ways use of information and information and communication technologies (ICTs) in education can be approached differently. They identified changes to their roles in the new blended learning environment. By working as reflective practitioners with colleagues and students they found they could more effectively draw attention to ways of critically selecting and using information for learning purposes. The teachers identified a need for common understandings and cohesive approaches to ILE teaching and ICT use across the school for students to develop their own individual information strategies for future learning.
    Three key challenges were faced by the researcher. The first was that of finding a methodology to facilitate a research project which combined two processes: professional development for teachers about the phenomena of information literacy, ILE and Informed Learning; and gathering data for the purpose of creating new knowledge. The second was to ensure sustained engagement and participation longevity by 25 teachers in three case groups conducting practice-based research across a year while working as full-time classroom teachers. The third challenge was lack of teacher familiarity with the terminology and understandings of information literacy and ILE, further compounded by a new set of complex terminology and understandings in Informed Learning.
    These challenges were met by the combination of PAR and Informed Learning. They gave time and process for the researcher and the case groups to develop communities of practice wherein they owned their learning and its transfer into new curriculum design. These ongoing shared reflexive applications of co-constructed understandings about ILE demonstrate a way that teachers can bridge the gap between information literacy theory and practice. This study fills a gap in ILE as it provides a practical example of a methodology to transform secondary teacher practice such that teachers take on the responsibility for teaching information literacy within their respective curricula. An implication for future research lies in building teacher capacity to model and bring attention to information strategies integrated into the learning areas of the Australian Curriculum.
    Three models have resulted from using a problematised approach to ILE in this study. Benchmarks for Individual Repertoires of Information Strategies provides a framework for whole school information practice in which students might develop their own individual repertoires of information strategies. A proposed Informed Learning Model for Secondary Schools suggests changes to Informed Learning constructs for easier incorporation into secondary school teacher practice. The Informed Learning Praxis Model describes the practices developed when a learning community uses Informed Learning PAR to bring in a problematised approach to ILE in which teachers constantly question and make explicit the reasons for their choices of using information for learning.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Dalgarno, Barney, Principal Supervisor
    • Hay, Lyn, Co-Supervisor
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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