Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

An Evaluation of the Use of the PLUS Model to Develop Pupils' Information Skills in a Secondary School

Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

An Evaluation of the Use of the PLUS Model to Develop Pupils' Information Skills in a Secondary School

Article excerpt

Various models of information skills have been developed and applied in schools in North America, Australia, and the United Kingdom in recent years, but there have been few attempts to evaluate the application of the models. This article reports a study of the evaluation of the use of the PLUS model in a secondary school in England. The PLUS model (Herring, 1996; Herring, 1999) categorizes information skills into four interrelated steps: Purpose, Location, Use, and Self-Evaluation. In this study, the PLUS model was used by 112 Year 7 pupils (11-12-year-olds) studying physics. Each pupil completed a questionnaire relating to aspects of information skills and the use of the PLUS model. The views of the school librarian and the physics teacher were gained via semistructured interviews. The main findings of the study were: pupils benefited from using a structured approach to project work; pupils saw the model as a useful tool particularly in helping them to plan, organize, and reflect on their own work; and pupils of this age were able to reflect on both the content and processes of learning.

Introduction

Emphasis has grown in recent years on the development of information skills or information literacy in schools, and this is reflected in the literature of education and of school librarianship where a large number of books and articles have been published on this topic. A number of models of information skills have been developed and applied in schools, although there is a dearth of research studies that attempt systematically to evaluate the application of the models. A number of information skills models have been developed in North America, Australia, and the United Kingdom in recent years; one model developed over the past decade in Scotland is the PLUS model (Herring, 1996, 1999). The research reported in this article relates to an evaluation of the use of the PLUS model in a secondary school in England.

Information Skills Models

A number of models have been proposed for school librarians and teachers to consider when implementing an information skills program in their school: the nine steps approach (Marland, 1981), which identifies a series of questions that pupils might ask themselves when completing assignments; the Big Six model (Eisenberg & Berkovitz, 1990), which focuses on six broad skills areas necessary for successful information problem-solving; the Information Seeking Model (Kuhlthau, Goodin, & McNally 1996), which identifies how pupils feel during the assignment process as well as what they do; and the EXIT model (Wray & Lewis, 1995), a 10-stage model that focuses on pupils' interaction with the text.

The PLUS model (Herring, 1996, 1999) seeks to incorporate the key aspects of earlier models and categorizes information skills into four interrelated steps: Purpose, Location, Use, and Self-Evaluation. The PLUS model provides a framework for pupils and teachers to work with, but it is not just a linear model with pupils working through each stage when completing an assignment. The PLUS model seeks to encourage pupils to identify purpose (e.g., brainstorming and concept mapping); to locate relevant sources (e.g., using print and electronic information resources); to use the ideas and information found effectively (e.g., reading for information, note-taking); and to reflect on their own information skills through self-evaluation (e.g., evaluation of original plan or range of sources used).

The Wider Educational and Research Context of the Study

Information skills research is related to a number of other areas in educational and library and information studies (LIS) research, and a number of influences on information skills research and on this study, in particular, can be identified. The following section seeks to provide the reader with a wider educational and research context for the study.

Constructivism

The use of research projects in a secondary school can be seen as an example of pupil-centered, resource-based, and active learning. …

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