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The Big6 Competencies: An Introduction

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1 The Big6 Competencies: An Introduction
Elisa Moskowitz, April Gilbert, Iris Nelson, Michelle Loera, Robin Schiff, Jennifer Duarte This presentation is an introduction to the Big6 competencies. We will review Big6 background information, the Big6 research steps, and and how to approach a sample assignment using the Big6 process. The "Big6™" is copyright © (1987) Michael B. Eisenberg and Robert E. Berkowitz. For more information, visit:

2 What is the Big Problem-Solving Approach?
Big6 is an information search process that involves the 6 sequential steps displayed on the left. According to the developers of the Big6 approach, effective problem-solving involves these 6 steps. It is the most widely-used and well-known research method in school libraries nationwide. The Big6 process may be adapted to work for kindergarten--higher education-For example, the kindergarten method is known as “Big 3,” where problem solving is taught as having a beginning, middle, and end.

3 Background Information
The Big6 problem-solving approach is geared towards making students information literate. (a.k.a. information literacy) is the “set of competencies that an informed citizen…ought to possess to participate intelligently and actively in that society” ( The Big6 approach teaches students information literacy through information and technology skills used in the Big6 step-by-step process. The Big6 process has been translated into different languages, including Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese. The developers of Big6, provide a wealth of resources to students and professionals. Information competency

4 Step #1: Task Definition
Defining the Task 1.1 Define the information problem - “What is the problem I need to solve?” 1. What is the problem about? 2. Think about the things you already know about the subject. 3. What would you like to know about it? 4. How do you want your project to look when you’re finished? 5. Make a plan. 6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 1.2 Identify the Information Requirements- “What type of information will I need?” 1. Stick to your topic. Sometimes when you look for information, you’ll find other neat stuff too. Save it for later. Remember, you are trying to solve one information problem at a time. 2. Write down, or draw pictures of, the things that will help you remember what information to look for. 3. Ask questions to help you figure out what type of information you will need to look for.

5 Step #2: Information Seeking Strategies
Selecting Sources of Information 2.1 Determine the range of possible sources- “What are the potential sources of information?” Once students define their problem, they need to brainstorm and list a wide variety of sources to solve the problem. What are the criteria for completing the assignment? What places or persons provide the information needed? What sources of information will I find from them? 2.2 Evaluate different sources to determine priorities.- “What are the best sources of information? Because we are in the information age, there is an abundance of sources that are available, especially online. It is very important to evaluate the information sources gathered. What sources are best for my assignment? Which sources are easily accessible, reliable, accurate, and current? How much estimated time will it take to complete the assignment?

6 Step #3: Location and Access
Finding the Information 3.1 Locating sources of Information- “Where are my sources of information? Who can help me?” Choose sources and write their location (URL, a book or journal; will you access it online or get from a library?) If interviewing someone, make a note of how to contact him or her and what questions to ask. Get sources of information. 3.2 Finding Information within sources- “When I find the source, how will I find the information in the source?” Think of key words related to your topic which help you find the information you are looking for. In the library, use the card catalogue or database to locate materials according to your topic. In books- refer to the index, or table of contents. In encyclopedias- use the volume index. Determine if the information found is relevant to your topic. List those resources which were used as sources of information.

7 Step #4 : Use of Information
Gathering and Sorting the Facts In this step of the Big6 process students will be able to: 4.1 Engage and absorb the information collected (e.g. read, hear, view, touch). “How will I access the information I need?” **Approach a subject with the help of varied resources and get familiarized with the information presented **Students determine what sources are most valid and relevant for their research in the process. 4.2 Extract relevant information from all sources. “How will I take notes of the information?” ** Students learn to paraphrase source information ** Develop a system of note-taking (e.g. graphic organizer) ** Remember to cite sources.

8 Step #5: Synthesis organize my information?”
Organizing and Presenting the Finishing Product 5.1 Information Organization- “What is the best way to organize my information?” Organizing information/references into an understandable and consistent final product develops the student’s critical thinking skills What am I trying to say? Who is my audience? Have I covered all of the important facts and included all of the information that is required? Is the final product understandable and consistent in content and tone? 5.2 Development of Technological Skills- “How may I incorporate technology?” Another important skill incorporated by the synthesis step is the development of technological skills through the use of programs such as Word for text, Excel for spreadsheets, graphs, and charts, as well as the internet for the development of Web pages. *Is/will the information be better applied if certain technological resources are applied i.e. a spreadsheet to better show data results?

9 Step #6: Evaluation Evaluating the Results
Usually, teachers are the first people to compliment and criticize students’ work. Skill 6, Evaluation, helps students decide how to improve their products before submitting them. 6.1: Judge the Product- “How well have I developed the product?” Starting in elementary school, students should ask themselves *Did I follow each step of the assignment? *Does my project look neat enough? Are the title, date, and my name in the right spots? *Have I mentioned what books, magazines, encyclopedias, websites, videos, and other materials I used? Did I list them in the way my teacher asked? 6.2: Judge the Process- “What have I learned?” Starting in elementary, students should ask themselves: *What research skills did I learn, and when can I practice them again? *What research steps did I do well? What should I do differently on the next project? *Kids should note what sources helped them the most and inform librarians what new materials would have helped them.

10 Big6 in Action Step 1- Task Definition
Completing a Sample Assignment using the Big6 research process Assignment: You need to come up with a chart of vacation spots all around the world. Step 1- Task Definition Create a project that displays various places to go on vacation. Step 2 - Information Seeking Strategy Find material on vacation spots. Internet, travel agencies, ask someone who vacations a lot, travel sections at bookstores, travel magazines, city library Step 3 - Locate and Access Go to the Internet- key in keywords and select from various web sites. Go to library or bookstore, find vacation books, and magazines within each source. Step - 4 Use of Information Read all materials gathered underlining or highlighting points, copy down information from brochures, magazines, or books. Print out information on various vacation spots found on Internet. Step 5 - Synthesis Make a chart of vacation spots with information from each tourist spot. Type up a short description. Include pictures. Step 6 - Evaluation Good job on your product! Reflect on whether you could have improved any of the steps.

11 Big6 Checklist Organizer
Big6™ - Project Checklist Information and Research Skills© #1 Task Definition What is my topic? _____________________________________________ What questions will help me learn more about my topics? #2 Information Seeking Strategies What places provide the information I need? _________________ What sources of Information will I find there? _________________ What sources are best for my task? __________________________ What skills do I need to use these sources? __________________ #3 Locate and Access Information #4 Information Usage Have I read, heard, and viewed the sources I’ve chosen? ___ Have I taken notes and in what format (Web, notecards, notebook paper,etc.)?_________________________________ Have I listed my sources? ____________________________________ What information will I use in my presentation? ______________ How can I organize my information? __________________________ #5 Communication/Synthesis How can I best present what I’ve learned? ___________________ #6 Evaluation Did I answer my questions? ___________________________________ Did others understand clearly what I’m trying to communicate through my method of presentation?___________ What could I do differently next time? ________________________ Make sure to address steps as soon as possible. Step #6 may be completed after turning in the project. This project checklist can be filed away to serve as review of the assignment.

12 Reviewing the Big6 Process Additional Big6 Resources
When you are trying to do an assignment, remember you have to first define the task. Then, choose, locate, and utilize your information sources. Once done, organize the information, evaluate your work, and present the product. Additional Big6 Resources Now that you have learned the Big6 basics, see how you do with this Big6 quiz!- Check out how the librarians at John Newbery Library Media Center in Washington describe the Big6 process to children. Watch 3 short videos that demonstrate some of the Big6 skills in action-

13 References Barnes, J. (2005). K-W-H-L chart. Retrieved September 1, 2006, from Berkowitz, R., & Eisenberg, M. (1987). The bg6 super3. Retrieved September 1, 2006, from Berkowitz, R., & Eisenberg, M. (1990). Information problem solving: The Big Six©, approach to library & information skills instruction. New Jersey: Ablex Publishing. Darrow, R. (2005) Big 6 stage 3 location and access treasure hunting. Library Media Connection, 23 (7) , 28 Retrieved 8/26/06 from Ebsco Host database Darrow, R., & MacDonald, C. (2004). What is information literacy in the digital age? California School Library Journal, 27 (2) Eisenberg, M. (1997). Information seeking strategies. Emergency Librarian, 25(2), 22. Eisenberg, M. (2005) Stage 2 -- Information Seeking Strategies. Library Media Connection, 23(6), Eisenberg, M. (1998). Big 6 tips: Teaching information problem solving. Teacher Librarian, 26 (2), 35. Lowe, C. (2002). Research foundations of the big6 skills. Retrieved September 5, 2006, from Murray, J. (2005) Applying big6 skills, information literacy standards and iste nets to internet research. Retrieved September 5, 2006 from Olson, A., & Cowling, L. (2002). Get started with the big6! Retrieved September 4, 2006, from Serim, F. (2004). What is the big6? Retrieved September 1, 2006, from (n.d.) Task definition strategies. Retrieved September 1, 2006, from

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