Transference of skills across the curriculum needs to be explicit in most cases. Herring’s (2011; 2011b) research indicates that those students who most likely do not need explicit teaching to transfer skills would do so anyway. These are the high achievers and highly motivated students.
For the others, Teacher Librarians (TLs) need to develop strategies to ensure that information literacy skills developed as part of inquiry learning are transferred to other curriculum areas. It should also be noted that the knowledge gained through inquiry learning and the skills and abilities developed can be used in personal situations as well. It is this element that highlights the importance of developing student’s ability to transfer their knowledge and skills across situations as it contributes to their development as a life-long learner.
Whilst Herring’s (2011; 2011b) research was conducted in high schools, it still applies to the primary school environment. Ironically, this week my Year 1 and 2 students were explicitly taught how to use mind maps to organise their ideas. I would hope that they would use their experiences from this week in future Library projects and within the classroom but the evidence tells me that my assumptions are likely to be incorrect (Herring, 2011). So how do I ensure that this does in fact happen?
Herring (2011b) suggest a few approaches that I believe would work within my current environment. Firstly, living the TL as leader motto, I could present concept mapping and mind mapping approaches to our weekly professional development meeting. I would also include a screencast of the exact process so that teachers could refer back to it and use it in their own classes to introduce a new topic, or as a review.
This would also achieve Herring’s (2011b) other suggestion that TLs should create a culture of transference. I believe that this active sharing and easy access to screencasts and other tools that can be revisited at a later date is an effective way of achieving this. Adding the technology tools and project outlines, along with some samples of student work to the library blog and promoting these to the school community would also help.
Another approach that I believe would work in my current school would be to identify those students who are experiencing difficulties with a specific IL task and create lunch-time work groups around these skills so that they can develop them further, and hopefully see their benefit outside of the class project realm. Applying them to high interest areas for these students, that typically may not be addressed in the curriculum, may produce better results for these students.
Reviewing, making connections to past projects and experiences and providing opportunities to use the newly gained skills and concepts in future projects is achievable in the primary school and this remains a significant way to encourage students to transfer their information literacy skills.
- Herring, J. (2011). Assumptions, Information Literacy and Transfer in High Schools. Teacher Librarian, 38(3), 32-36.
- Herring, J. E. (2011b). Year seven students, concept mapping and the issues of transfer. School Libraries Worldwide, 17(1), 11-23.