The Big6™ Skills

The Big6 is a process model of how people of all ages solve an information problem. From practice and study, we found that successful information problem-solving encompasses six stages with two sub-stages under each:

1. Task Definition

1.1 Define the information problem

1.2 Identify information needed

2. Information Seeking Strategies

2.1 Determine all possible sources

2.2 Select the best sources

3. Location and Access

3.1 Locate sources (intellectually and physically)

3.2 Find information within sources

4. Use of Information

4.1 Engage (e.g., read, hear, view, touch)

4.2 Extract relevant information

5. Synthesis

5.1 Organize from multiple sources

5.2 Present the information

6. Evaluation

6.1 Judge the product (effectiveness)

6.2 Judge the process (efficiency)

People go through these Big6 stages—consciously or not—when they seek or apply information to solve a problem or make a decision. It’s not necessary to complete these stages in a linear order, and a given stage doesn’t have to take a lot of time. We have found that in almost all successful problem-solving situations, all stages are addressed.

In addition to considering the Big6 as a process, another useful way to view the Big6 is as a set of basic, essential life skills. These skills can be applied across situations—to school, personal, and work settings. The Big6 Skills are applicable to all subject areas across the full range of grade levels. Students use the Big6 Skills whenever they need information to solve a problem, make a decision, or complete a task.

The Big6 Skills are best learned when integrated with classroom curriculum and activities. Teachers and library media specialists can begin to use the Big6 immediately by:

  • Using the Big6 terminology when giving various tasks and assignments
  • Talking students through the process for a particular assignment
  • Asking key questions and focusing attention on specific Big6 actions to accomplish.

Various computer and information technology skills are integral parts of the Big6 Skills. For example, when students use word processing to compose a letter, that’s Big6 #5, Synthesis. When they search for information on the World Wide Web, that’s Big6 #3, Location & Access. When they use e-mail to discuss an assignment with another student or the teacher, that’s Big6 #1, Task Definition. Using computers can “turbo-boost” students’ abilities.

Stripling Model of Research

Why is inquiry important for student learning?

Inquiry is a process of active learning that is driven by questioning and critical thinking. The understandings that students develop through inquiry are deeper and longer lasting than any pre-packaged knowledge delivered by teachers to students.

Inquiry-based learning follows a process that progresses through phases, but is recursive and reflective throughout. The six phases and their thought processes are detailed in the following diagram.