RESOURCE-BASED LEARNING: WHAT IS IT?
What is the connection with Resource-Based Learning? This educational approach is often referred to as the "manifestation" of information literacy, or one of the best ways to ensure the development of information literacy.
The following definition of resource-based learning (from the APEF Foundation document for Language Arts) was accepted and used by the Committee...
Resource-based learning is student-centered. Students are actively involved and more accountable for their own learning. Classroom teachers and their partners in education need to do much more than simply ensure access or provide the wide range of appropriate learning resources; they must ensure that the students' learning environment is properly structured, so that learning will occur. Skills for accessing, evaluating, using, and applying information are carefully targeted, ensuring that students meet the outcomes for information literacy identified in the approved curriculum and instructional programs. Learning is facilitated by teachers who understand their critical role, always promoting student involvement and interaction, and assessing learning in ways that ensure that more than simple content (or the "right answer") is learned. With this increased emphasis on the development of skills and strategies, (and on critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and creativity,) our students will be better prepared to become lifelong learners, capable of independent and informed decision-making.Resource-Based Learning and Teacher-Librarians
Resource-based learning has been, and continues to be, a pervasive approach for teacher- librarians. This was evident in the P.E.I. Department of Education's School Library Policy (Circular 92-03):
(N.B. View more about resource-based learning at this excellent Queens University website.)
Information Literacy is clearly articulated in these Essential Graduation Learnings for Atlantic Canada:
The P.E.I. Department of Education has also promoted another similar definition of Resource-Based Learning, from the province of Saskatchewan since the publication of the teachers' resource, Where Did You Find That? ( by Alixe Hambleton, 1992, Saskatchewan School Library Association and The Saskatchewan Professional Development Unit.) This resource is available in all P.E.I. public school libraries:
The Language Arts Curriculum for Atlantic Canada uses these three strands as a framework for the ten General Outcomes for student learning, using the language arts processes.
In order to achieve the outcomes for learning identified in our regional curricula, it is clear that students need to have opportunities for exposure to and practice with ideas and concepts (knowledge,) skills and attitudes, in many contexts and for diverse learning needs, not just in language arts or English subject classes.
These five General Curriculum Outcomes (GCO's) in particular, illustrate this new focus on the development of information literacy, and we need to remember that they are equally important in science, mathematics, social studies, as well as other subjects/curriculum areas:
GCO D select, read. and view with understanding a range of literature, information, media, visual, and audio texts (R/V)
GCO E interpret, select, and combine information using a variety of strategies, resources, and technologies (R/V)
GCO G respond critically to a range of texts, applying their understanding of language, form, and genre (R/V)
GCO I create texts collaboratively and independently, using a variety of forms for a range of audiences and purposes (W/R)
There are endless ways to implement a resource-based learning approach in the classroom or in the school library or in other educational contexts. When classroom teachers and teacher-librarians collaborate to plan, implement, and assess resource-based learning activities, they may decide to use one of many possible methods, including the following:Resource-based Learning Centres or Stations:
Pre-selected learning resources are assembled in one or more location, with clear directions for students to follow (re. skills, strategies, content, concepts.)
Students access the centre(s) at times predetermined by teachers, individually or in small groups, and their learning is usually assessed through the use of teacher observations, answer keys, and/or product and process evaluation and reflective strategies. When teachers include a more "open-ended" approach, and higher order thinking skills are involved in the use, application and synthesis of information, students' learning may be very creative, individualized and satisfying. Cooperative learning is a key feature in this approach. When properly structured, it is rarely chaotic and very popular with students. They may complete an entire activity at a single learning centre or a number of centres or stations may be involved in the activity.
Learning stations are an excellent way to orient students to the school library early in the school year or they may also be a good way to "launch" a topic or theme. Students will have opportunities to access and interact with multiple resources in a variety of formats and they should be encouraged to examine resource, including their organization and some of the content.
This will be a definite advantage if a "project" or some other type of in-depth information processing activity is to follow. What better way to pick a topic for research or to gain some "prior knowledge" of a subject, or to develop a thesis question or begin a search for information sources?Projects, Papers, and Other Information Processing/Authentic Research Assignments:
More teacher-librarians are discovering that the Internet can be a useful tool for resource-based learning. Online software and special sites like Filamentality, are being used by these educators to create online projects for their students.
The WebQuest is becoming a favoured approach, moving resource-based learning into the electronic learning environment. WebQuests needn't exclude information in other formats, in fact the best WebQuests are those that "scaffold" or structure students' learning to ensure they access, evaluate, and use appropriate information, regardless of the format or source! The following overview of this approach was developed by former P.E.I. Education's Information Technology Facilitator, Michelle (McQuaid) Dodds: More
Whether you are using an email connection with other learners or implementing a fully developed WebQuest with your students, it is important to remember that "doing an Internet project" should never be the sole purpose for students, the Internet should be an interactive and exciting tool they use for individual or collaborative inquiry and problem-solving, and for creating knowledgeable and creative products; sharing their own learning with others.
All three schools were supported in publishing their students' work to the World Wide Web; two schools (Parkside and L.M. Montgomery) used Zebu Web-based software, the third school, Vernon River, completed their 1999 project using HTML programming to publish their project. Students at Vernon River in the first year of the project (1998) created and published Islands Project using Zebu.
Throughout this project there was an emphasis on interaction in the learning environment; students were expected to communicate with others in their own cooperative working groups as well as those in the other two partnering schools. They also communicated using E-mail (or discussion boxes within Zebu) with students in other North Atlantic "island places" such as Newfoundland, the Isle of Skye, and Iceland.
More information about the information process can be found in Part 2 of this document, "The Heart of Resource-Based Learning: The Information Process.
You may also wish to select one of the following articles for further reading:
Overview & article | Article Only "Are High School Research Assignments Obsolete?" by Meredith MacKeen (from Impact, May 1998)
Overview & article | Article Only "Problems With Information Processing/Research Projects" by Judy Davies (unpublished article)
Overview & article | Article Only