Reflecting on the 5 A’s of Information Analysis

I continue to be drawn to the work of Ian Jukes and Ryan L. Schaff in their book A Brief History of the Future of Education: Learning in the Age of Disruption as a resource to support the 2020 learning environment—and beyond. The weekend the pandemic shut down schools, I was halfway through teaching a course on Futuristic Leadership, and interestingly, the book that happened to be assigned reading was this exact book. In preparing future education leaders, as both scholars and practitioners, we were all in awe of the ideas we were encountering, and then it amplified! We would all ask ourselves to be adaptive leaders in this changing environment and embrace disruption.

Jukes and Schaff share many gems in their writings, one of which is the 5A’s of Information Analysis. As we progress in our current environment, I am finding these insights to serve as powerful reflection points. They offer insights into what our learners can and should be doing.

The 5 A’s of Information Analysis(Jukes and Schaff, 2019):

1. Ask good questions

Learners identify key words and form questions around these issues so they can think laterally, understand ethical issues, listen deeply, view wisely, think critically, and distinguish valid information from noise.

2. Access data from the appropriate digital and nondigital information sources

Learners determine where the information is; prioritize search strategies; skim, scan, and scour resources for pertinent data; filter information; take smart notes; determine when they have incomplete information; and know when it’s necessary to go back to the initial ask stage to ask more questions

3. Analyze the data to authenticate their validity and transform data into knowledge

Learners organize, triangulate, and summarize data; differentiate fact from opinion; assess currency; examine data for underlying meaning and bias; identify incomplete information; document and credit sources; take notes; use probability; examine trends, and; establish best guesses to seek out additional data.

4. Apply the knowledge to solve real-time, real-world problems

Learners synthesize information and turn it into knowledge with real-world application; such applications can include writing an essay, creating a graph, completing an argument, making a presentation, participating in a debate, completing a science experiment, creating a video, or participating in social media.

5. Assess both the process and the product

Learners reflect on the processes they undertake and information they obtain; assess learning—how they learned, what worked, what didn’t work, and how they could enhance the process or product; and reflect on how they can apply the process to similar and different circumstances.

Jukes and Schaff assert, “the 5 A’s represent a structured mental process that learners can use to explore almost any information problem.”

  • As educators how might we use these 5 A’s to guide our work as adult learners?
  • How might teachers guide one another, and our students in the classroom, with this process?
  • What might be some problems that you will tackle? How might this process assist you?

Add these to your bookshelf if you are enjoying these ideas: