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The road to information literacy: the role of ethnography in 'telling the story' of children's information seeking behaviour. Beautyman


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Presented at LILAC 2009

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The road to information literacy: the role of ethnography in 'telling the story' of children's information seeking behaviour. Beautyman

  1. 1. Wendy Beautyman
  2. 2. Introduction  The purpose of the research  Who the research is looking at  Why this age group?
  3. 3. Aims of the Research Two aims were identified, they are:-  To investigate the cognitive and affective characteristics of Key Stage 2 (KS2)children in the context of their information seeking behaviour.  To develop a framework or set of guidelines for developing and promoting Information Seeking Strategies (ISS) in KS2 children
  4. 4. Objectives of the Research Five objectives were identified, they are to:-  Identify and evaluate the current methods for teaching ISS to KS2 children  Identify whether there are gaps in the children’s knowledge and understanding of information retrieval and use.  Establish the level of teaching of ISS for KS2 children
  5. 5. Objectives of the Research  Establish the current ICT outcomes required from the e-learning strategy as outlined by relevant government bodies.  Establish the role of ISS in the government, LEA and school policies
  6. 6. Methodological Approach The methodological approach adopted for this research was that of interpretivist ethnography. Interpretivists believe that there are multiple realities, that “cannot exist outside of the social contexts that create them. Realities vary in nature and are time and context bound” (Pickard, 2007:p7).
  7. 7. Methodological Approach Ethnography involves the researcher participating “in people’s daily lives for an extended period of time, watching what happens, listening to what is said, asking questions” (Hammersley and Atkinson, 1995:p1)
  8. 8. Methodological Approach Reasons for choosing an ethnographic approach 1. ethnography would offer the most in-depth and holistic approach to answering the research question. 2. the age of the children that would be involved with the research.
  9. 9. Grounded Theory One characteristic of Interpretivist enquiry that is utilised within this research is that of grounded theory. Theory is generated by and grounded in the data. Grounded theory allows the researcher to compare data as it is being gathered.
  10. 10. Emergent Design  The research design is not set out before the start of the research but is allowed to “flow, cascade, unfold” (Lincoln and Guba, 1985:p41).  Emergent design allows the researcher to respond to previously unconsidered routes of enquiry. Opening up avenues of exploration that were deemed worthy of further investigation.
  11. 11. Human as Instrument  “classical anthropology utilized virtually no other instrumentation” (Lincoln and Guba, 1985:p192)  Responsive  Adaptable  Holistic (able to contextualise)  Ask for clarification  Reflect on the situation as well as self
  12. 12. Gaining Entry to the Field Initial contact with Head teacher six months before entry into the field. Problems encountered and how they were resolved. Ethical considerations of the research in line with Northumbria University’s ethical policy.
  13. 13. Data Collection Fully participant observer within the natural setting of the classroom. Field notes capturing snap shots in time of the children’s daily routines. Informal chats and discussions in place of formal interviews. Field notes transcribed immediately after the observations had taken place. Researcher’s diary and memo.
  14. 14. Data Analysis Grounded theory allowed analysis of data to begin after the first observation. After several weeks I had witnessed the same information seeking behaviour from a group of 7 year old children and this pattern of behaviour allowed me to formulate the following questions.
  15. 15. Data Analysis  Who is defining the information need?  What strategies are the teachers using to promote information literacy?  Are the children able to complete their search for information with or without further support?
  16. 16. Data Analysis As the answers to these questions began to emerge from the data, it became possible to see snapshots in time of the information literacy journey of these children. Writing up continues ......
  17. 17. ...and finally Any questions?
  18. 18. References Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing Grounded Theory. Sage Publications. Hammersley, M. & Atkinson, P. (1995). Ethnography: Principles in Practice. 2nd Ed. Routledge. Lincoln, Y. and Guba, E. (1985). Naturalistic Enquiry. Sage Publications. Northumbria University Ethics Policy. Available at: nddocs/ (Last Accessed: 07/03/08) Pickard, A.J. (2007). Research Methods in Information. Facet Publishing.