Monday, February 27, 2012

Reflection on the process

For this project, after reviewing all of our research options I chose to use the I- Search Model. This simple research outline allowed me flexibility, and I was able to successfully find an answer to the question that I chose to do. During my research time, I made sure to reflect on what I was learning, and also how I could implement this research model in a school as a librarian. I think that the I-Search model would be a good one for older students to use, after they have some research experience under their belt. Originally, I thought that this would be a good beginner’s model for research, specifically good for younger students who are just beginning to learn how to do research but my opinion has changed. With the amount of flexibility that this model allows, I think that it would be difficult for a new researcher to find a conclusion. But, luckily I have quite a bit of research under my belt and was able to find a good answer to my question. This was my process.

Selecting a Topic

After perusing the questions that we were given, I knew immediately that I wanted to focus on having schools switch to gmail. Personally, I have been utilizing all aspects of the google suite for several years now and have greatly appreciated it. When I was working full time, the calendar allowed me to keep track of due dates and appointments, the google documents let me easily transfer information between my home computer and my work one, and I was sending out emails constantly. I definitely gave google a workout! Because of this, I knew what a fantastic resource it is and thought the concept of putting it into schools was an interesting one. I could also see how this choice to switch to gmail would affect a school librarian, and wanted to see what other people’s opinions were about the topic. So, after selecting this interesting subject, I was able to quickly move forward with the next step.

Finding Information

This part of the research model was probably the most time consuming. It was necessary for me to weed out unhelpful and outdated information, all while trying to create an idea of what I wanted to find. By using my chart, and keeping an outline of my thoughts, I was able to check out the list of places where I hoped to find valuable information. I listed sites like the UB databases, tech websites, the google site and all of its cohorts, personal pages of school librarians, education websites and the listserve information that we were provided. At this time, I also began the blog that I used throughout the research period. The blog was extremely helpful with organizing my thoughts and pinpointing the most important information that I found. There, I posted about the different steps of the research model and also put up links to vital sites that I discovered. The blog, combined with a google document full of links, was where I kept all of the links that I found that pertained to my subject. During the “finding information” part of the model, is when I also started to generate questions that I wanted to answer with my research. Questions like, “what are some of the things that google offers to schools?”, “what are some of the competing programs out there, and how do they compare?”, “how popular is this program in the k-12 bracket?”, “what might be some of the drawbacks to making the switch?”, “what grades are using email?”. With all of these questions in my head, I began to look at the resources that I had listed and thankfully, found some results. Once I found an adequate amount of resources, I could move onto the next step of the model.

Using information

As I mentioned in my blog, I think that one of my favorite parts about the I-Search Model was that though I may be doing to different steps of the process, It was easy to cross and multitask between them. I personally am a little scatterbrained, and continue to search for sources to the last minute of writing a research paper. With this model, I am able to search, but also simultaneously analyze the materials that I find. With other models, the steps are more restrictive and a little more difficult to move back and forth between them. But with the I-Search Model, I easily picked sources and pulled the information that I needed for my research. While I am analyzing materials, I find it important to pull important quotes and make note about the general idea that I had gleaned from the source. I did this with all of the sources that I found, and placed a lot of the information I found into my blog and into my personal notes to utilize later when I was making my final paper. This method of research seems to work for me, and the I-Search model allowed me to organize the information that I found any way that I saw fit. With this flexible model, I could control my thoughts and organize them how I pleased, and was able to produce some valuable information, which I could present in my findings.

Developing a Final Product

With a list of resources and some points of information from each, I was able to construct a final answer to my research question “Should schools switch to gmail?”. I first made an outline of the different important things that I wanted to mention to solidify my argument and looked back at my resources to find appropriate quotes and facts. Because I already knew what I wanted to talk about and what important information each resource held, I was able to answer my final question with ease. I made sure to be honest, have facts to back up my answers and have a solid answer to my question. I was satisfied with my conclusion, and thought that my final product was one constructed with thought and was thorough.

In Conclusion…

I am glad that I chose the I-Search model. I think that it fit my personality the best, and also helped my stay organized during the daunting time of research. As I said at the beginning, I originally thought that this model would be good for a younger student who was doing research but by the conclusion, I had changed my mind. I think that because it is so flexible it may be difficult for a younger and more inexperienced student to stay focused during research. It may be better for older students who understand how they personally work best, and are able to keep on top of the different steps of the model. I enjoyed using this model, and hope to use it in my library someday!

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