Evidence-Based Practice – Articles

Todd, R. J. (2009) School Librarianship and Evidence-Based Practice: Perspectives, Progress and Problems. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice. Available at: http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/4637/5318.

This paper provides an overview of progress and developments surrounding evidence based practice in school librarianship, and seeks to provide a picture of current thinking about evidence based practice as it relates to the field. It addresses current issues and challenges facing the adoption of evidence based practice in school librarianship. It is based on a narrative review of a small but growing body of literature on evidence based practice in school librarianship, set within a broader perspective of evidence based education. In addition, it presents the outcomes of a collaborative process of input from 200 school libraries leaders collected at a School Library summit in 2007 specifically to address the emerging arena of evidence based practice in this field. A holistic model of evidence based practice for school libraries is presented, centering on three integrated dimensions of evidence: evidence for practice, evidence in practice, and evidence of practice. The paper also identifies key challenges ahead if evidence based school librarianship is to develop further.

Gordon, C. A. (2009) An Emerging Theory for Evidence Based Information Literacy Instruction in School Libraries, Part 1: Building a Foundation. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 4(2) Available at: http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/5614/5320

This paper aims to create a framework for an emerging theory of evidence based information literacy instruction. An historical review of research grounded in user-centered information behavior theory and constructivist learning theory establishes a body of existing substantive theory that supports emerging theory for evidence based information literacy instruction within an information-to-knowledge approach. Findings point to two elements of evidence based information literacy instruction: the micro level of information searching behavior and the macro level of the learning task. On the micro level users are confronting information, and searching is seen as the entire process of the interaction of users with a series of information tasks, as described in Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process. The micro level is the level of deep understanding as critical thinking skills craft the connection between information and knowledge. On the macro level the learning task, designed by an instructional team, shapes the inquiry. It is the context for information tasks. The role of evidence, which is generated by performance assessment and action research, is critical to both levels. On each of these levels the learning task informs the information search.

Gordon, C. A. (2009) An Emerging Theory for Evidence Based Information Literacy Instruction in School Libraries, Part 2: Building a Culture of Enquiry.Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 4(3). Available at: http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/6449/5559 .

The purpose of this paper is to articulate a theory for the use of action research as a tool of evidence based practice for information literacy instruction in school libraries.. This paper examines the purpose and methodology of action research as a tool of evidence based instruction through the explication of three components of theory-building: paradigm, substantive research, and metatheory. Evidence based practice is identified as the paradigm that contributes values and assumptions about school library instruction. Action research, as a tool of evidence based practice is defined as the synthesis of authentic learning, or performance-based assessment practices that continuously generate evidence throughout the inquiry unit of instruction and traditional data collection methods typically used in formal research. This paper adds social psychology theory from Lewin’s work, which contributes methodology from Gestalt psychology, field theory, group dynamics, and change theory. For Lewin the purpose of action research was social reform, while action research in education targeted self through the improvement of practice. The dichotomy between purposes of self and society is resolved by the Lewin-Dewey connection, where the reiterative cycle of action and reflection is the basis for a common intent for both types of action research. Dewey’s approach comprises the metatheory for emerging theory: a philosophy of purpose and methodology that determines how the research is done. The emerging theory postulates that evidence based information literacy instruction uses action research for two purposes. Self-oriented action research (AR(S1)) targets self-improvement on the local level of teaching and learning in school libraries; social-oriented action research (AR(S2)) targets social reform on the global level of educational improvement. Corollaries of the theory indicate a research agenda and methodologies for the research.

Todd, R. J. (April 2008). The Evidence-based Manifesto for School Librarians. School Library Journal, 54(4), 38-43 Available at: https://www.slj.com/2008/04/sljarchives/the-evidence-based-manifesto-for-school-librarians/

Gordon, C. (2007). “The Medical Model for Educational Research: Prospecting for the Gold Standard or Fool’s Gold?” Synergy, 5(1), 53. Available at: gordon_medical_model_for_educational_research.pdf
This article discusses the randomized controlled trial (RCT) in the context of the need for educational research that accommodates research in the field where teaching and learning are happening. The shortcomings of experimental research are discussed, along with the importance of qualitative research that generates learning theory.


Gordon, C. (2006). A Study of a Three-Dimensional Action Research Model for School Library Programs. School Library Media Research Online, 5. Available at:  http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslpubsandjournals/slr/vol9/SLMR_ThreeDimensionalActionResearch_V9.pdf
This is a detailed review of an in-depth action research training model and an investigation of how that model, supported through virtual and personal guidance from an academic researcher, served to impact the instructional practice of a small sample of school library media specialists (SLMSs). The researcher operates in the third dimension, simultaneously collecting data and mentoring SLMSs who function in the first dimension as designers and implementers of authentic learning tasks (ALTs) and assessments, and in the second dimension as Practitioner Researchers (PRs) who develop and implement their own action research projects. As the Mentor Researcher (MR) guides SLMSs through formulating research questions, outlining proposals, constructing theoretical frameworks, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting findings, she explores how the elements of the three-dimensional model are working. The researcher collects data from e-mail transactions and telephone conversations, as well as from interviews and meetings during on-site visits. Content analysis of the PR’s documentation of their teaching units and journals provided data for triangulation. Findings indicate that the three-dimensional model of action research can elevate the quality of action research to that of formal academic research. PRs engage in formal research that models methods for students and collaborating teachers. Interactions between SLMSs and teachers reveal underlying tensions of collaboration. The action research had a positive effect on the practice of SLMSs who developed ownership and confidence in the collaboration process as well as perception of themselves as leaders.

Todd, R. J. (June 2006). Ross to the Rescue: Rutgers’ Ross Todd’s Quest to Renew School Libraries. School Library Journal, Cover, 44-47. Available at: https://www.slj.com/2006/04/sljarchives/ross-to-the-rescue/

Gordon, C. (2002). Methods for Measuring the Influence of Concept Mapping on Student Information Literacy. School Library Media Research, 5. Available at: http://news.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/slmrb/slmrcontents/volume52002/gordon.cfm 
Research traditions in education and information retrieval have grown up in parallel worlds, although they share a theoretical foundation that profoundly influences research methodology and best practice in their respective domains. They also share a common problem: the need for a method for analyzing sparse, quantifiable data collected in qualitative studies with small sample sizes. This paper explores the theory of expected information, which uses formulas derived from the Fano measure (1961) and Bayesian statistics (1764), and demonstrates its application in a study on the effects of concept mapping on the searching behavior of tenth-grade biology students.

Todd, R. J. (2001). “Transitions for preferred futures of school libraries: knowledge space not information place; connections, not collections; actions, not positions; evidence, not advocacy”. International Association of School Librarianship Annual Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, 8th-12th July, 2001. Available at: https://www.scribd.com/document/24544808/Transitions-for-preferred-futures-of-school-libraries
The fusion of learning, libraries and literacies is creating dynamic, if not confronting challenges for teacher-librarians, teachers and administrators, particularly when set against the backdrop of learning and information environments that are complex and fluid, connective and interactive, and ones no longer constrained by time and space. It is both an opportunity to evaluate and chart impacts and achievements, as well as an invitation to examining new ways of looking and thinking, being and doing. This presentation will argue that action and evidence-based, learning-centered practice, rather than position and advocacy, are key mindsets for the profession if it is to achieve its preferred future, particularly in the context of the development of digital collections and services. It will elucidate a shared-learning framework as the fundamental building block for the articulation of roles, selection of resources, the nature of the instructional program, and for evaluating the power of the library in achieving the school’s learning objectives.