One of the aims of the International Baccalaureate’s Diploma Programme is to encourage students to be knowledgeable and inquiring. This creates obvious synergies with the aims of the library, particularly with regard to the development of independent learners who are curious and open to a wide range of possibilities.
One of the ways that we support students of the Diploma Programme (DP) is by teaching them the research skills they need to be able to find, evaluate and use information to build their ideas and to deepen their understanding. These skills become essential once they begin work on their Extended Essay, a 4000-word piece of independent research that every DP student must undertake.
This year, our team of Teaching and Learning Librarians ran a series of workshops designed to hone these skills and to identify any areas where the students would like more support. The skills included Google searching, finding articles on Academic Databases and summarising information. We also asked students to demonstrate critical thinking by interpreting a series of ambiguous photographs.
The boys were then asked to reflect on these (and a number of other) research skills and to organise them according to where they felt the most confident, down to where they felt they were weakest. The results will help us tailor future lessons to the specific needs of the students.
Ideation, or the sparking and developing of new ideas, consistently appeared as a self-identified area of need. As a result, we have developed a sequence of lessons to get the students started on ideas for their Extended Essay topics.
Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4
Groups 5, 6, 7 and 8
Other research skills that were consistently ordered in the bottom three were referencing and Academic Database searching, so we will also prioritse these areas in our lesson planning.
One of the biggest challenges is in delivering support in those areas where there was the greatest disparity in student need. The size of the DP cohort here at Trinity Grammar School makes personalised sessions difficult, but we are considering opt-in sessions as a possible solution.
Perhaps what was most exciting about these sessions, however, was the sense of empowerment the boys got as they began mastering the skills that will enable them to take control of their own learning.