Thursday, September 27, 2018

Reading and well-being report

Mental wellbeing, reading and writing

Added 26 Sep 2018
Mental wellbeing, reading and writing explores the relationship between children's mental wellbeing and their reading and writing enjoyment, attitudes and behaviours.
The report is based on findings from our eight Annual Literacy Survey of 49,047 children and young people aged 8 to 18 in the UK.
As this is the first time we have explored the link between reading, writing and mental wellbeing, we developed two new measures to enable us to better understand these relationships:
  • Mental Wellbeing Index: we quantified children's responses to questions on life satisfaction, coping skills and self-belief on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest level of mental wellbeing.
  • Literacy engagement score: we quantified children's responses to questions on how much they enjoy reading and writing, how often they read and write outside school, what they think about reading and writing, and how good children think they are at reading and writing. Scores were then given out of a total of 52, where 52 is the highest level of engagement with literacy practices.
Our analysis found that:
  • Children and young people who are the most engaged with literacy have better mental wellbeing than their peers who are the least engaged (Mental Wellbeing Index scores of 7.9/10 vs 6.6/10)
  • Children who are the most engaged with literacy are three times more likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing than children who are the least engaged (39.4% vs 11.8%)
  • Conversely, children who are the least engaged with literacy are twice as likely to have low levels of mental wellbeing than their peers who are the most engaged (37.4% vs 15%)
  • Children with above expected reading skills are three times more likely to have high levels of mental wellbeing than their peers with below expected reading skills (40.3% vs 13.1%)
  • As children transition from primary to secondary school, their levels of literacy engagement and mental wellbeing both begin and continue to decline
  • Boys who are the most engaged with literacy have higher levels of mental wellbeing than girls who are equally engaged (Mental Wellbeing Index scores of 8.1/10 vs 7.6/10)
The report also includes new analysis from University College London which shows an enduring relationship between mental health and verbal scores, with those who have low verbal ability having worse mental health outcomes than those with higher verbal ability. This finding is true when one considers children from the 1970 British Cohort Study as well as children from the more recent Millennium Cohort Study.
National Literacy Trust. (2018). Mental wellbeing, reading and writing. London: Author.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Research about Student Information Seeking Behaviors; Implications for Searching Databases

The following research studies provide current insights in students’ information seeking behavior, and provide strategies for teaching effective search techniques, which can be applied to using online subscription database aggregators.

Mentzer, N., & Fosmire, M. J. (2015). Quantifying the information habits of high school students engaged in engineering design. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research (J-PEER), 5(2), 22-34.
Students seldom evaluate the quality of online resources. They tend to rely on commercial and persuasive websites rather than informative or technical ones. Students do not search for broad categories of relevant information. Students are more likely to use search engines than use databases.

Hughes, H. (2013). International students using online information resources to learn: Complex experience and learning needs. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 37(1), 126-146.
International students’ information behaviors reflect eight interrelated elements: students’ personal characteristics; the information-learning environment; interactions with online resources; students’ information literacy level; help-seeking habits; affective aspects; reflective responses; and cultural-linguistic dimensions. In using online resources, international students displayed developed information skills and less-developed critical information use.

Kim, S. U. (2015). Enablers and inhibitors to English language learners' research process in a high school setting. School Library Research, 18.
The researcher tracked high school ELL students’ research processes, and found that by the end of their efforts, students had difficulty finding specific information, evaluating information, and summarizing it. In the middle of their efforts, they felt more competent; they did not have the big picture at that point. Students sometimes searched in their first language, especially if they did not know the English vocabulary, but they did not include the resulting resources in their final product. Students wished for guidance from someone who knew the assignment and the topic, and who could help them find background information, topical vocabulary, and specific information. They also wanted more time to research, and sample products.  Teaching ELL students how to seek and use information helps them learning English and the subject matter.  These students should also be supported in their practice of searching first in their first language, and their resources should be considered for their final project.

Yeh, Y., Hsu, Y., Chuang, F., & Hwang, F. (2014). Middle-school students' online information problem solving behaviors on the information retrieval interface. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 30(2), 245-260.
Student self-monitoring and metacognition practices facilitate searching strategies. Otherwise, students can feel overwhelmed by the amount of online information, or settle for general information, or not organize the found information. Boolean use is not so important now because of search engine features, but the key words need to be relevant and specific enough to get good hits.

Knox, C. H., Anderson-Inman, L., Terrazas-Arellanes, F., Walden, E. D., & Hildreth, B. (2015). The SOAR Strategies for Online Academic Research: Helping Middle School Students. Handbook of Research on Technology Tools for Real-World Skill Development, 68-103.
Students need instruction and practice in constructing research questions, searching effectively, assessing resource credibility, and connecting resources. Middle school students need step-by-step strategies, which lead them to see themselves as efficient learners. Teachers also need to tell students that reading online differs from print reading; the former is more goal-oriented and focused on the specific task context. Online articles tend to be shorter; web features can be distracting.   The University of Oregon Center for Advanced Technology in Education created SOAR Toolkit ( to help middle schools search for and use online information.
Strategy 1: use digital notebook to brainstorm questions and keywords.
Strategy 2: refine search terms based on results (get better match).
Strategy 3: examine URL for authors and institutions, domains, relevance.
Reading and recording information: reflect on understanding and ask self questions; record notes, create reference list, combine notes into an outline.

O'Sullivan, M. K., & Dallas, K. B. (2017). A collaborative approach to implementing 21st century skills in a high school senior research class. Education Libraries, 33(1), 3-9.
The authors outline search strategy steps: select a topic (give them time), concept map, formulate a research question, distinguish between keywords and subject headings, develop a search strategy, write the research paper, assess the process and product.

Cook, D. B., & Klipfel, K. M. (2015). How do our students learn? An outline of a cognitive psychological model for information literacy instruction. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 55(1), 34-41.
     Researchers suggested five principles for structuring information literacy instruction: create a problem context, limit the amount of content, build a narrative, focus on deep structure, and practice deep structure through active learning. It is not necessary to dwell on learning styles in such instruction, but rather find commonalities among student learning approaches.

Bell, S. S. (2015). Librarian's guide to online searching: Cultivating database skills for research and instruction. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
This guides gives practical strategies for asking good questions and choosing a database.

So what are the take-aways from these research studies? Most important is the need for explicit instruction in how to develop a search strategy based on identifying the information task, formulating good research questions, brainstorming keywords and concepts, and getting background information (and associated specialized vocabulary). Guidance in locating relevant information should focus on specific, relevant databases and other vetted sources. Students need to understand and use criteria for evaluating resources, and should be encouraged to compare resources about the same topics. Students should also be taught metacognitive skills such as self-reflection, asking themselves questions about the sources as they examine them, and monitoring their efforts and results. 

Health information for youth

The following studies suggest several ways to insure optimal library services to address the health information needs of students. Additionally, a dozen relevant websites serve as a starting point to share online health information with the school community.

Alexander, K., Entwisle, D., & Olson, L. (2014). The long shadow. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
         This longitudinal study found that the resources and strength of a child’s family tended to exert a powerful influence over a child’s future. Income and education levels – one’s socioeconomic status – are strongly linked to all sorts of health measures, including disease susceptibility and lifespan. Therefore, teacher librarians should provide and promote health-related resources as well as collaborate with school faculty and specialists to teach health literacy and healthy life choices.

Janyna Mumbauer and Viki Kelchner (2017) Promoting mental health literacy through bibliotherapy in school-based settings. Professional School Counseling,.21(1), 85-94.
One in five children has or has had a mental disorder in a given year, so the demand for mental health services within the school setting is immense. Bibliotherapy can serve as a preventative and responsive treatment for increasing mental health literacy within the school setting. The authors review relevant bibliotherapy and mental health literacy research, introduce the concept of mental health literacy in the school setting, and provide counselors and educators with practical tools and beginning bibliography to implement the concept. While teacher librarians are not trained in bibliotherapy, they are well positioned to collaborate with school counselors to ensure that appropriate resources are available for the school community.

LeBourgeois, M. K., Hale, L., Chang, A. M., Akacem, L. D., Montgomery-Downs, H. E., & Buxton, O. M. (2017). Digital media and sleep in childhood and adolescence. Pediatrics, 140(Supplement 2), S92-S96.
A study published in Pediatrics found an association between the use of digital devices before bedtime and inadequate and disrupted sleep in children and adolescents. The report finds that underlying mechanisms of these associations likely include the following: (1) time displacement (for example, time spent on screens replaces time spent sleeping and other activities); (2) psychological stimulation based on media content; and (3) the effects of light emitted from devices on circadian timing, sleep physiology, and alertness. Teacher librarians can share this information with the school community to help address this problem.

Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2017). Digital self-harm among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 61(6), 761-766.
Digital self-harm is a new problem that demands scholarly attention. Factors found to be involved in self-harm included sexual orientation, experience with school bullying and cyberbullying, drug use, participation in various forms of adolescent deviance, and depressive symptoms. This study’s findings showed that boys were more likely to report digital self-harm, and the risk of digital self-harm was three times higher among non-heterosexual youths and 12 times higher among those who were cyberbullying victims. Importance of this research shows that Understanding the motivations behind this behavior, and how it correlates to offline self-harm and suicidal ideation, can help teacher librarians work with health professionals toward informed prevention approaches.

STEM research

AAUW. (2010). Why so few? Women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
AAUW’s study found key reasons for a lack of females in STEM careers: stereotypes, gender bias, and the climate of science and engineering departments in higher education. School libraries can model positive gender roles in STEM through collections, services, and their own practices.

ACT. (2016). The conditions of STEM 2016. Iowa City, IA: ACT.
Many high school graduates are interested in STEM majors and careers, but few are well prepared to succeed in first-year college STEM courses. Libraries need to provide engaging STEM collections and opportunities to engage in STEM activities.

US high school students want to see changes made to STEM teaching methods and more access to resources outside of the classroom. They also want more tangible learning opportunities. School libraries can provide both resources and activities.

Gelbgiser, D. & Albert, K. (2017). Green for all? Gender segregation and green fields of study in American higher education. Social Problems.
Schools – and libraries -- might be able to improve the representation of women in STEM fields by playing up the relation of those fields to the environment. “Green” programs promote greater gender equality in the field.

Kesar, S. (2018). Closing the STEM gap – Why STEM classes and careers still lack girls and what we can do about it. Redmond, WA: Microsoft.
Girls don’t see themselves in STEM roles, and exposure to real-world applications of STEM changes their outlook. Furthermore, girls who participate in STEM activities outside of school (such as in the public library) are more like to pursue STEM later. Adult encouragement also helps.

Project Tomorrow. (2015). Digital learning 24/7: Understanding technology-enhanced learning in the lives of today’s students. Irvine, CA: Project Tomorrow.
Student access to technology tools and resources results in: deeper and more sophisticated learning; higher estimation of technology, greater college-career readiness, and builds self-directed independent learning ethos. School libraries play a key role in access.