Monday, April 9, 2018

ECIS Librarians Conference 2018 - Chennai part 4

Evidence Based Practice in the School Library Context

The 4th day of this wonderful ECIS conference had me facilitating a workshop on " Evidence based practice". We had about 25 in the group and all wanting to learn more about how Evidence based practice can help them prove they make an impact to the learning in their school.

The day was split into the following focus areas.
  • What is evidence-based practice?
  • Planning for evidence based practice and action research 
  • Conducting action research
  • Evaluating the research and going forward
We examined and unpacked the three layers of evidence based practice which Ross Todd teased out in his  paper "The evidence based manifesto for school librarians." SLJ April 1 2008. 

1. Evidence For Practice, is where empirical research (big research) has found evidence that certain practices make a difference. The work of Keith Curry Lance in the Colorado studies, the retail research  that front facing books make a difference to sales / borrowing and that genrifying a collection can lead to higher borrowing and increased reading --- plus many other studies.

2. Evidence in Practice is where the practices that were studied in the external empirical research are adopted by the school librarian in their every day practice. It could be that they have a bank of front facing books, or have chosen to genrify the collection based on the research. They then reflect and modify where necessary, and transform the research into their own practice.

3. Evidence of practice is about the real, measured results of what you are actually doing with and for the students and if it is making an impact. It establishes what has changed for learners as a result of the inputs, interventions, activities, and processes of what the librarian does as an educator.

We looked at the reasons behind why evidence OF practice is so important which includes being able to articulate & demonstrate to others that what we do, does actually enhance student learning. 

We need to be measuring what impact we have on student learning. We need to know what they are learning from us, and how well they are learning. If we cannot do this, we need not be in schools. I may have even made a bold statement captured in this tweet ...

We considered how well we align with what is going on in the school, are we working in parallel or merging with the curriculum? Do we use the standards the teachers are using or do we cling to our own 'library' standards?? 

The participants brainstormed what they do in their role as a school librarian  ....

They had to identify what they thought actually made an impact on student learning and how.

They were asked ...

What are the real results of what you do, rather than what you think you do? 

Using the 7 elements of school librarianship identified by  Crumley and Koufogiannakis  the participants identified and sorted three things they do under each of these headings. ...

  • reference/inquiries
  • teaching and learning
  • collection development 
  • management and systems 
  • information access and retrieval 
  • programming 
  • marketing/promotion 
(Crumley and Koufogiannakis, 2001, Developing evidence-based librarianship: Practical steps for implementation. Health Information and Libraries journal, 19,61-70)

They had to identify one action / practice they currently do that they would like to find out if it does make an impact.

We discussed what diagnostics were and how important it was to determine what is already happening so that you know if anything has changed. Diagnostic tools were identified - TRAILS, bibliographies, student work, surveys, video, photographs etc. 

The next step was to learn how how to collect evidence and what type of evidence would be useful to find out what you needed to know, the following examples are from from Asselin, M. Evidence Based Practice (Literacy Links) Teacher Librarian. October 2002.

  • descriptive : describing a phenomena -
    What are the genre preferences of boys and girls at your school?
  • correlational : examining relationships between two or more variablesWhat is the relationship between the amount of voluntary reading and reading comprehension?
  • experimental : Test a new procedureWill boys voluntary reading increase if more non fiction books are more accessible? 
We looked at the various types of qualitative and quantitive research and then identified when it might be useful to conduct individual, collaborative and school wide research. We moved onto the types of evidence that could be used and how not all evidence is created equal.

The participants had the opportunity to plan for an action research they were motivated to undertake, bouncing ideas around with others. The following questions were posed to scaffold their thinking ...

  • What do you want to find out?
  • What do you currently do that you want to do better, bigger or prove that it has an impact?
  • Is there something you want to introduce, but need to find out more information before introducing it?
  • Why do you want to find this out?
  • What is your purpose for knowing? 
  • What do you hope it is going to change? 
We finished off the day by discussing the morphing of the School Libraries survey I facilitated earlier in the year and critically evaluating the tool and the explaining the process of collating and making sense of the data.  

To conclude these quotes were shown, be mindful of the context of the school librarian. We claim that school librarians make a difference, but we need to show evidence of this claim.

I want to conclude this blog entry by changing this quote below a little...

I don't want to just believe I make an impact on learning, I want to know.

If you are interested in this full day workshop, please contact me at 

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