Wednesday, May 14, 2014

ATL Skills audit

Image from 

The IB programs have a strong emphasis on Academic Honesty throughout the three programs, in particular the Diploma Program. The skill of referencing and citations are expected to be taught at appropriate times in a students life, and ideally when they reach the higher year levels, they will know how to do it without too much problem. Referencing and citation are assessable skills in some subjects through the subject criterion from year 7 (or 11 year olds), and are an integral part of the Approaches to Learning  skills (ATL).

If you are of my generation or even younger, you would not have been even exposed to referencing, bibliographies and in text citation until you hit University level, and even then it was a big shock to the system and created much stress. (Where does that comma go, what is italised??) After working in my current school for a little while I began to see a pattern of inconsistency regarding referencing and citing through no fault other than it is a big school, and that no one had actually taken the beast by the horns and tamed it.

Some subjects did not require a bibliography, other a list of websites or URL's was enough, other subjects insisted on manually written bibliographies and others encouraged the use of Easybib. Explicit teaching of this skill was happening but in ad hoc manner to varying degrees of success. In text citation was another area of concern where some subjects required year 7 to attempt in text citations. Imagine being a student trying to figure this out - who requires what and what is the standard expected?

Where to start? The MYP Co-ordinator and I knew some things were going on, but we were not sure what, where and by whom so we set about holding an audit of referencing in the school via a Google Form. Each year level had their own google form. The same questions were asked on each form for each year group.

The Head of Departments were briefed about the audit, and what we hope to achieve from it. They were requested to share the form with their departments and allocate different people to complete the form for each year group depending on who taught the year level.

After the allocated time, the results were viewed and then using the Google form Form menu "Show summary of responses" where it places all the data into lovely graphs. Below is the result of the year 7 survey ....

I then matched subjects from the results form to the answers and we came up with some data about what is happening where. I shared these results with the MYP co-ordinator and we hatched a plan as to the next step.  

The plan was that I would bring it all together in a report - text with visuals, and present it to the Head of Departments to then work on moving forward to standardise referencing across the secondary school.  I was also to create a draft scope and sequence for referencing and citation for year 7-13, keeping in mind the capacity or the different year groups. This draft would be presented to the HOD's for comment and for them to take the document back to their departments for comments and improvements. Ideally we will get a small working party together to finalise the scope and sequence to be implemented from the next academic year.

The overall goals are :
  • students to be required to submit a bibliography in all subjects and for all work that uses another person's ideas and information whether or not the subjects criterion explicitly specifies it. It would fall under the ATL category of Information Literacy Skills in this case.  
  • the skill of referencing and in text citation to be taught explicitly by each of the subjects that require it in the criterion, using the scope and sequence as a basis. 
  • teaching resources and exemplars will be created to assist in the teaching of these skills\
  • Teachers will be briefed and upskilled on the APA style for referencing and the use of Easybib.
  • The scope and sequence will be expanded into the PYP next year so the whole school is on the same page.
The documents were shared  with the HOD's and the response was positive and enthusiastic. 
The Draft Scope and Sequence is linked here and I would welcome any comments or suggestions. You can comment on the Google doc itself or in the comments on this blog. 


John Royce said...

Great post, Dianne, and great work too. Thank you for sharing.

The audit is a great way to get discussion started amongst teachers, leading (one hopes) to common appreciation, common understanding, common expectations and common practice. It will surely reduce student confusion, an understanding of how good writers write, and of how writers integrate and use other people's words and work into their own work. (Isn't it amazing, and worrying, just how much difference there is in terms of expectation and requirement - and the 56% who don't teach it... how will the students ever learn? How will students appreciate the importance of academic integrity if teachers seem not to appreciate it?)

The one comment I would make with regard to the scope and sequence document (well done, so very well done) is with regard to in-text citation. I think in-text citation could and should be expected from all students, for all uses of other people's work. Delaying in-text citation of quotations until year 8, and of paraphrases and summaries until year 10 could inculcate bad habits, which could get students into trouble. Especially if they move from Renaissance to other schools?

It doesn't have to be correct according to Hoyle (or APA) in-text citation; enough possibly to require simple parenthetical citation at the youngest levels, with more stylistic in-text citation coming later. But get them being completely honest from GO - this isn't mine (and this is where I got it from).

The S&S document also means that teachers will know what they can expect from students at each year level, what they should be requiring, and teaching too. It will also guide as to what might be too much of an expectation at the year level too.

Please share the S&S document as you finalise it, once other comments come in.

Good work, Dianne. John

Dianne said...

Hi John,
Thanks for your comment. Regarding teaching full text referencing for year 7, I really don't think they are up to learning it along with all the other new things they need to learn in year 7. I think the introduction of in text referencing for images and graphs (and possibly moving quotations to year 7) is enough. The message of consistency is important at this point, and we really need to keep it simple to get it launched. We may visit it later.

As for moving it to other schools, as far as I can tell, other many schools in most cases are just as confused as we are about all this.

Monica Morscheck said...

Hi Dianne

Now I know why you were talking to HoD's the other day…
I did a scope and sequence in the school a few years ago, when we were a MYP and DP school, here is the link
It updated last year to include yr6, but I haven't updated the slides… the IB references etc might be a bit dated, but the sequence has worked.
I just did a citation lesson with a yr7 class and several of them remember using it from last year.
I also need to include MLA via Google docs which ICT/Lib now also teach from yr7.

Barton Wilson said...

From the information provided, it seems that Reference isn’t commonly taught in that stage. Either it's too early in the curriculum, or that there are requisite skills that has to be learned beforehand, to fully acquire the idea or knowledge about Reference and citation. But nonetheless, I think that it could be reasonable to have these as a requirement for yr7, if not touch base even at an earlier level. It would increase the quality of their performance and as well as their capacity for the said skill. Thanks for sharing this topic with us, Dianne. And good luck with your future endeavors!

Barton Wilson @ International Standards Authority, Inc.

Pratibha Reddy said...

The idea of collecting information from different department and arriving at common consensus is good. thanks for sharing the resource and idea

Zakir Hossain said...

Very informative Dianne. Thanks for sharing. In my school we introduce referencing from grade 2 (7 years older)! But we dont' much emphasize the word Reference or Citation. We just simply encourage them to give a "Thank You" to the people or resources they learned from to complete their projects. So after any Units of Inquiry project students mentions the Books names, Author names, teachers name or else they learned from.

So the plan is for whole school is:

 Grade 1 to Grade 3 should know about acknowledging sources (Thank you);
 Grade 4 to Grade 6 should know how to use citation machine for referencing;
 Grade 7 to Grade 10 should know in-text citation and bibliographical referencing (some error acceptable);
 Diploma students are highly encouraged to use Mendeley as long as its free;