Monday, February 18, 2013

Post 4: Skills and Cognitive Learning

Question: What are the essential skills and/or learning outcomes you want your students to know about and be able to do that relate to cognitive learning?

Because library use can be so process-oriented, a student would need a set of competencies in order to use a library effectively and to full benefit. In each case - whether the student is in grade 2 or grade 12 - the skill set is much the same, but as the student progresses, the range of sources and information, as well as the scope of the question will become more challenging.

First, a student has to ask questions about the problem to be solved. The student should be able to be able to identify a research question or questions (appropriate to grade level) that will guide his search. For a 3rd grader, this might mean deciding on a topic for a short paper on a specific president. For a 12th grader, perhaps they are seeking information specific to morality and society in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.

Next, a student should be able to follow a search process for acquiring the needed information. Of course, this process becomes more complex as a student progresses in school, or in his learning. In early grades, students search the online catalog looking for books on a particular topic, or browsing sections of the library according to the Dewey classification pertinent to their research topic. Older students might search a full-text database looking for journal articles.

After the above process of discovery, a student should be able to organize the information into a usable set of data. Students will then analyze the data he has collected and determine if his research process has reached an end. Based on his findings, has the initial question (or questions) been answered?

It sounds complicated - especially when you think of teaching this to 1st or 2nd graders - but the point is that the process can be broken down into smaller parts for any age group. This is a set of cognitive skills for any age to acquire and use.

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