Faculty Publications


Professional staffing levels and fourth-grade student research in rural schools with high-poverty levels

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Journal/Book/Conference Title

School Library Research




Rural schools in high-poverty areas are often understaffed. This descriptive phenomenological study examined fourth-grade state research projects in high-poverty rural Iowa schools to reveal the influence of school librarians' staffing levels on student learning of research skills. To determine evidence of students' critical literacy, ethical use of information, content learning, and understanding of the inquiry process, researchers analyzed twenty-four student work samples from eight schools, along with students' responses to questionnaires and school librarians' responses to surveys. Six (66 percent) student work samples in higher-staffed schools showed higher critical-literacy scores than those in the five lower-staffed schools. Six (of nine) students in higher-staffed schools garnered higher scores in ethical use of information. Content learning in all but one school was mainly factual. At the end of the project fourteen students (58 percent) posed new inquiry questions that were either conceptual or provocative.


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

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