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Specific Information Skills

This page contains examples of specific information skills.

Audience Analysis

teen with computerA student information scientist must be able to effectively analyze his or her audience and design communications to meet these needs and interests. The scientist might ask him or herself the following questions:

Becoming proficient at the use of key terms and strategies is associated with the following Information Literacy Standards (AASL, 1998):

The following example demonstrates how a student matures as he or she gains experience and expertise.

Bike Path

bike pathAddressing the needs of a target audience is another skill that is mastered over time. Young learners are often focused on their personal needs and have difficulty putting themselves in the place of their audience.

For instance when presenting to the local parks commission about the need for a bike path in the City Park, the inexperienced student may focus on their personal interest in the bike path rather than the greater needs of the community.

As student information scientists develop skills in audience analysis they gain insights into the persuasive communications needed to accomplish both personal and community interests.

Explore Eric's investigation for more detail.

Authority

boy and computerUnderstanding the authority of information sources is an important skill of student information scientists. Student information scientists must seeking evidence to corroborate or counter authority. The mature inquirer understands that "truth" often shifts with the situation, the context of discussions, the recency of facts known, and even the definition of terms. The advanced inquirer will not be satisfied with a second opinion and knows that authority may shift over time. The scientist might ask him or herself the following questions:

Becoming proficient at authority is associated with the following Information Literacy Standards (AASL, 1998):

The following examples demonstrate how a student matures as he or she gains experience and expertise.

Earthquake Activity

earthquakesAs students increase their expertise in the evaluation of web-based resources, they use these experiences to draw conclusions that can be applied in future projects.

For instance, students working on projects related to recent earthquake activity are likely to find many website resources. At the conclusion of the project, a novice inquirer might state that they were able to find “lots of cool stuff” about earthquakes on the Internet, however the student may not be able to identify what made these resources effective.

On the other hand, a more sophisticated information scientist would point to the fact that the most authoritative and timely materials came from the United States Geological Survey website as well as regional government agencies. However even these resources should be double-checked against independent research findings.

Explore Brandon's investigation for more detail.

Classics

A student information scientist develops skills in identifying classic and respected works through gaining experiences in varied information inquiry situations. The scientist might ask him or herself the following questions:

girl with bookIf your inquiry topic deals with a major historical event, biography or controversial issue, consider what justifies a few of your sources as “classic” or the most respected sources on your topic.

Becoming proficient at the use of classic and respected works is associated with the following Information Literacy Standards (AASL, 1998):

The following example demonstrates how a student matures as he or she gains experience and expertise.

Lewis and Clark Expedition

Lewis and ClarkIdentifying essential sources is an important skill of the student information scientist. Beginners may be able to locate quality materials, but may have difficulty tracking back to the original sources.

For example, a novice researcher examining the Lewis and Clark Expedition may get excited about the many websites containing in-depth information.

However the experienced information scientist will recognize that most of these websites reference the original journals by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

Explore Kristen's investigation for more detail.

Original Data

teenA student information scientist must develop skills in gathering original data to address information needs. The scientist might ask him or herself the following questions:

Becoming proficient at gathering original data is associated with the following Information Literacy Standards (AASL, 1998):

The following example demonstrates how a student matures as he or she gains experience and expertise.

Nuclear Energy and Weapons

nuclear bombInexperienced information scientists may not realize the need for a systematic approach to gathering original data.

For instance, a novice researcher might develop a survey on the issues of nuclear energy and weapons based on a brainstorm of ideas listing questions as they come.

An expert information scientist would begin by identifying all the options and personal bias involved in the project before jumping into the design of a questionnaire.

Explore Sabrina's investigation for more detail.

Experts

boy and teacherA student information scientist makes effective use of experts to access information. The student scientist and/or instructional specialist might ask him or herself the following questions:

Becoming proficient at the use of key terms and strategies is associated with the following Information Literacy Standards (AASL, 1998):

The following example demonstrates how a student matures as he or she gains experience and expertise.

Scientist in the Field

spiderYoung students may develop their skills at defining respected sources by working with the nonfiction books available in the school library.

For example although many books are available on spiders, the book “The Tarantula Scientist” by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop is an award-winning book that follows tarantula scientist Sam Marshall on a scientist expedition. This book is part of the Scientists in the Field series that students may return to for materials on other creatures such The Snake Scientist by the same authors.

As student information scientists refine their skills they will begin to see the importance of identifying key sources and experts.

Explore Ryan's investigation for more detail.

Future Applications

girl and booksReflection and self-evaluation is a critical component of the process for an information scientist. After completing a project and received an evaluation, you might ask him or herself the following questions:

Becoming proficient at self-evaluation is associated with the following Information Literacy Standards (AASL, 1998):

The following example demonstrates how a student matures as he or she gains experience and expertise.

Future Applications

tomatoesAs the skills of an information scientist evolve, increasing emphasis is placed on the importance of reflective thinking.

While novice student researchers savor the success of their final product, expert researchers critically review strengths and weaknesses of both the process and product as they anticipate future inquiries.

As the beginning inquirer enjoys a red ribbon at the county fair, the evolving information scientist is considering ways to increase the quality of the tomato crop for next year.

Explore Ashley's investigation for more detail.

Journal Your Research Experience

Journaling a research experience is an effective way for the student information scientist to record and reflect on the inquiry process. The scientist might ask him or herself the following questions:

As you encounter each new piece of information, describe how it helps or hinders your investigation. Write about how new information either confirms or counters what you have believed or have hypothesized.

Becoming proficient at the use of journals in the research experience is associated with the following Information Literacy Standards (AASL, 1998):

The following example demonstrate how a student matures as he or she gains experience and expertise.

Lumber Industry

lumberAs student information scientists gain experiences, they are more able to identify multiple perspectives, analyze competing ideas, and consider alternative conclusions. Less sophisticated information scientists may need scaffolding to support their journaling experiences such as guiding questions or concept maps.

For example, young children investigating the lumber industry may only see two sides to the topic: those who want to cut down trees and those who don’t want trees cut down. They may need to develop a chart visualizing perspectives beyond these two discrete views to assist them in organizing their thinking.

As students become skilled in identifying multiple perspectives on their own, they are able to journal about the many dimensions of the issues without support.

Explore Cody's investigation for more detail.

Evidence Linking

teen pointingEvidence linking involves the student information scientist in building logical connections among pieces of relevant information. The scientist might ask him or herself the following questions:

Becoming proficient at evidence linking is associated with the following Information Literacy Standards (AASL, 1998):

The following example demonstrates how a student matures as he or she gains experience and expertise.

Influenza Epidemic of 1918

nurseNovice information scientists often seek simple answers rather than digging deeper and seeking evidence to support their conclusions.

For instance, an inexperienced information scientist might read a short article about the Influenza Epidemic of 1918, locate death statistics, and assume that the flu caused deaths randomly across age groups.

However an experienced researcher would generate additional questions based on each new set of evidence asking question such as “What patterns can be found in the data related to illnesses and deaths caused by the epidemic?” After a series of questions and additional evidence, the student information scientist would be able to conclude that the epidemic caused a disproportional number of deaths among young people.

Explore Jamal's investigation for more detail.

Useful Patterns

girl and muralFrom identifying number sequences in math to applying historical trends in social studies, the ability to see, use, apply, and create patterns is one of the activities the differentiates experts from novices across disciplines. The student scientist might ask him or herself the following questions:

After each team member describes several of their best information resources and where these were accessed...

Becoming proficient at the use of patterns is associated with the following Information Literacy Standards (AASL, 1998):

The following example demonstrates how a student matures as he or she gains experience and expertise.

Art of Diego Rivera

muralNovices may not take a systematic approach to information seeking, while experienced student information scientists see patterns in their investigations and apply these insights to future projects. A young artist may simply look through books of murals for visuals they like ignoring the artist or particular style of mural, while an evolving student information scientist would identify the patterns in their investigation. For instance, they might note that many murals were created by Diego Rivera.

Let’s say a student is fascinated by the mural art form and wants to find out about the Mexican painter Diego Rivera. A beginning student information scientist may search the Internet for information about this famous muralist.

An experienced information scientist would know that the electronic database Biography Resource Center is a quick and effective way to locate quality information as well as reviewed website resources.

Explore Vanessa's investigation for more detail.

Question Evolution

girlQuestioning is an ongoing activity of the student information scientist across information inquiry situations. The scientist might ask him or herself the following questions:

At what point did you know you had the question you wanted to focus on for your inquiry project? Given your experience, what criteria are most important in determining a constructive inquiry project for you? Visual below provides a generic framework for students to illustrate question evolution through exploration of print, nonprint and human resources. Similar to concept maps, students can illustrate how an initial question expands and evolves as a new information source (book, website, human, video, etc.) is introduced. Each new ring represents a new set of questions derived from a new source and linked back to the initial question.

question map

Click the visual above to enlarge.

Becoming proficient at the use of questioning is associated with the following Information Literacy Standards (AASL, 1998):

The following example demonstrates how a student matures as he or she gains experience and expertise.

Immigration

libertyThe information skill level of students can impact the complexity of question evolution. As student questions become more sophisticated and multidimensional, they may require more diverse resources and varied investigations.

A beginning information scientist may not consider how their questions could be expanded or enhanced. A novice questioner investigating immigration may ask: “How did people get to America?” and “From where did these people come?” As they gain questioning skills, their investigation may expand to “Why did people come to America?”

As student information scientists become more sophisticated, they seek ways to add depth and interest to their questions such as “How was the immigration experience different for varied ethnic and cultural groups? Why?”, “Why did people select particular areas for relocation?”, “How has the immigration experience changed over the history of North America?”, “Who in our neighborhood is an immigrant? What was their experience like? How does it compare to others?”

Explore Maya's investigation for more detail.

Rating Resources

teenA student information scientist develops skills in rating resources through gaining experiences in varied information inquiry situations. The scientist might ask him or herself the following questions:

Becoming proficient at rating resources is associated with the following Information Literacy Standards (AASL, 1998):

The following example demonstrates how a student matures as he or she gains experience and expertise.

Diabetes Research

diabetes researchBeginning information scientists may use a variety of information resources, but may not realize the power of building connections among authoritative sources. For example, a student is investigating the questions, “What progress is being made in a cure for diabetes? Is there likely to be a cure for diabetes in my lifetime?”

A novice may get caught up in the many personal websites on the topic and miss the foundational articles in the discipline.

A mature student scientist will use authoritative websites such as the American Diabetes Association to seek reoccurring references that can be used to establish the timeline of events, relationships among key people and events, and current relevant issues.

Explore Miranda's investigation for more detail.

Key Terms and Strategies

girl with laptopA student information scientist develops skills in identifying key terms and search strategies through gaining experiences in varied information inquiry situations. The scientist might ask him or herself the following questions:

Becoming proficient at the use of key terms and strategies is associated with the following Information Literacy Standards (AASL, 1998):

The following examples demonstrate how a student matures as he or she gains experience and expertise.

Pollution

pollutionThe developmental levels of students will impact their sophistication as information scientists. For example, young children may have limited vocabulary impacting their ability to identify effective search terms.

Let’s say students are investigating issues about the importance of clean drinking water. A second grader may come up with the words “dirty”, “bad”, “smelly”, or “yucky” water, while a sixth grader with a larger vocabulary may use words such as “pollute”, “poison”, “harmful”, “taint”, and “contaminate.”

Explore Annie's primary and intermediate school investigations for more detail.

The Island of Java

Java - Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at AustinLess experienced student information scientists may be able to identify the differences between using the World Wide Web and electronic databases, but may not be aware that different search strategies can be applied to increase the quality of information gathering.

A beginning information scientist with limited search strategies would become frustrated using a web-based search tool such as Google to locate information on the Indonesian island of Java. However a sophisticated student would quickly recognize that the term "Java" applies to coffee and computer programming in addition to this island. This knowledge would then be applied to search refinement.

In addition, mature student information scientist might also begin a search for the island of Java with an electronic database focusing on countries.

Explore Hannah's investigation for more detail.



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