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Journal of Information Literacy (JIL)

The aim of this article is to present information search tasks as an alternative to standardized tests for the assessment of scholarly information literacy (IL). The article describes how a task taxonomy and scoring rubrics were developed as a basis for the construction of standardized search tasks. Based on this taxonomy, sample tasks were created and used in an evaluation study in which an IL instruction programme was scrutinised. In this study, the tasks were applied alongside with a standardized IL test to determine their convergent validity. The results show that IL can be assessed using information search tasks in a reliable and conceptually as well as ecologically valid way. To our knowledge, this is the first publication using information search tasks for the assessment of IL with this degree of standardisation. The task taxonomy, sample tasks, and scoring rubrics are included and can be used by practitioners to create information search tasks tailored to their needs. 2014/06/13 - 13:46

This paper explores how a foreign language librarian investigated workplace information environments of bilingual (Spanish/English) professionals in the United States in order to design more relevant information literacy (IL) instruction. Drawing from interviews and participant observations of professionals whose careers correspond with Spanish language student graduate opportunities, the primary goal of the paper is to provide an initial understanding of the information environments of professionals in bilingual workplaces. The paper will then describe how this data will be used to design appropriate learning opportunities for Spanish undergraduates. Through reflecting on these multilingual information experiences, the paper also considers the role of workplace IL within higher education as well as contributing more broadly to studies on cultural approaches to IL. Accordingly, this paper will be of interest to foreign language librarians, as well as librarians who work with global studies, international relations or bilingual and international populations. 2014/06/13 - 13:46

This paper reports on a library outreach programme offered at a UK research-led university which aims to develop the information literacy (IL) of further education students. It details the programme that is offered and how it has evolved and developed. Some interesting traits and perceptions of pre-higher education students in regard to their IL are discussed. There has been increased demand from schools over the years and the programme has been adapted accordingly. While the programme is intended to benefit students and staff in schools, benefits to the university are also realised. A recommendation is made that this type of activity is rolled out on a larger scale with the participation of other university libraries. 2014/06/13 - 13:46

The purpose of this exploratory qualitative study is to gain a clearer understanding of the lived information-seeking experiences of mature students. Such a study is relevant to researchers seeking detailed examinations of mature students’ information search experiences, as well as to reference librarians and information literacy instructors who may wish to refine pedagogy or curriculum in order to help mature students more effectively. This study employed a narrative inquiry design to deeply explore the semester-long information search journeys of two mature students at a regional public university in the state of Oklahoma. Narrative analysis utilizing Carol Kuhlthau's (1991; 1993; 2004; Kuhlthau et al 2008) information search process model uncovered key themes of passion for a topic, time management, the influence of other academic and personal factors on students’ search experiences, and willingness to ask formal or informal search mediators for help. These themes have implications for researchers and practitioners seeking to understand and positively transform the information-seeking process of mature students. 2014/06/13 - 13:46

This article outlines an action research investigation into the role of an academic librarian in the UK Higher Education (HE) sector. It is the view of the author that a key way of supporting research as a librarian is to engage in the practice oneself, to partake in knowledge creation rather than simply providing information. It investigates the notion of the embedded librarian in relation to research support via a literature review. It then uses data recordings from meetings of the Higher Education Action Research in Teaching (HEART) group at York St John University, of which the librarian is a member, to provide evidence to support the idea that sharing expertise in such an arena also provides information literacy (IL) support to researchers. The theoretical basis employed is that of communities of practice (Wenger 1998), as it is the assertion of the author that all members of the said group are part of a community of practice, based upon shared aims of improving pedagogic practice. 2013/12/06 - 16:40

Critical pedagogy is an educational movement which gives people the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and sense of responsibility necessary to engage in a culture of questioning. These abilities are of benefit to young people, increasing their political agency through heightened awareness of social injustice and the means by which to communicate and challenge this. A central feature of the critical pedagogical approach is critical literacy, which teaches analysis and critiquing skills. Critical literacy has been recommended by a number of authors as a valuable aspect to include in information literacy (IL) instruction. Critical IL could contribute to enabling the development of political agency and increasing meaningful and active involvement in democratic processes. With the focus on the value of IL becoming increasingly important within library and information science (LIS), it is important to be aware of its roots, the problems yet to be overcome and to consider ways in which the concept can be developed. The paper argues that it is necessary for IL to adopt a critical approach in order to meaningfully engage with the democratic social goals of LIS and address some of the limitations of IL theories. The paper focuses on the ways in which the theory of critical IL may be of benefit to young people of secondary school age, in terms of increasing their political agency through increased critical abilities, channeling their perceived political cynicism and distrust into critical thinking and a sense of agency, increased political knowledge, efficacy and participation. It is suggested that libraries could contribute to critical IL instruction in partnership with young people and people in teaching and parenting roles, and that it is important for the LIS profession and discipline to embrace the inherently political nature of pedagogy and LIS practices to effectively apply critical theories. Further research into the ways in which IL can contribute to democratic goals would be of benefit. A current PhD research project which explores a methodology for identifying the needs of young people in order to apply critical IL practices for political agency is introduced. This paper is based on a presentation given at LILAC 2013. 2013/12/06 - 16:40

In response to a college required programme review, the Portland Community College Library undertook a case study of its information literacy (IL) programme in order to understand and illustrate clearly how the programme addressed levels of IL competencies throughout the curriculum. Content and qualitative analysis were used in reviewing curriculum documents to identify emergent patterns of IL skills and concepts within the college disciplines and certificate programmes. Analysis of the college’s course outcomes revealed distinct differences as well as trends across the curriculum for faculty expectations of information conceptualisation, information seeking strategies and research methods. Following this analysis, a Research Support Framework was devised as a template for guiding lower division undergraduate students’ progression through several cognitive domains of IL. Course Specific Research Support Forms were created to map, in specific detail, how library instructional objectives match up with individual course outcomes as well as with the college core outcomes. Combining a critical thinking taxonomy with a continuum of skills, progressing from pre-college level readiness towards academic literacy, generated a developmental approach to IL instruction. This also illustrated the necessary preliminary steps for students’ progression and knowledge gaps which may frequently arise and must be resolved before further progression is possible. Discussions between librarians and content faculty are now supported with a much more precise view of what is developmentally appropriate IL instruction for particular courses. The framework is especially applicable to students in their first two years of college. The unique situation of American community colleges means that first-year seminars are not usually possible, and the curriculum can often be as much vocational as academic. This versatile and developmental approach to IL instruction ensures the embedding of IL throughout the curriculum, providing students various and cumulative learning experiences. It will also encourage leading discussions with four-year colleges about alignment and realistic IL targets for students who intend to transfer for completion of their baccalaureate degrees.This article is based on a paper presented at LILAC 2013. 2013/12/06 - 16:40

From June 2010 until the present, a suite of online reusable learning objects (RLOs) has been created by staff at the Institute of Technology Tallaght (ITT Dublin) library covering a range of information literacy (IL) competencies. These RLOs have helped to facilitate student transition from second to third level, advance IL and enrich the student learning experience.The purpose of this paper is to outline the development of these RLOs and how the resources have been shared, reused and repurposed to enhance IL progression. A review of recent literature explores some of the key issues around the creation of digital learning resources and best practice, as well as the pedagogical foundations on which the learning objects are built. The design, development and implementation of the RLOs and the collaborative working arrangements that the digital resources have helped to foster are also outlined and the authors examine the issues and challenges experienced by the project team during the course of the RLO development. The significant usage and substantial impact that the learning objects have had on student-centred education and the various evaluative mechanisms used to measure the effectiveness of the RLOs is discussed, as well as future development plans. These learning tools have promoted best practice in innovative delivery methods and added value to the wider higher education (HE) community in the Republic of Ireland through their sharing, dissemination and reuse as open educational resources (OERs) via the National Digital Learning Resources (NDLR) service. The paper is likely to be of particular relevance to academic library practitioners and teaching staff in Irish HE as it provides an overview and links to a suite of digital learning tools that can be used or adapted in other academic settings. In terms of originality, there is no evidence of any published literature within the context of Irish HE sector covering the development of RLOs to support IL initiatives and will inform future research on how learning objects can be used to support learning and teaching practice both in the Republic of Ireland and further afield.This article is based on a poster presentation at LILAC 2012. 2013/12/06 - 16:40

This pilot study was developed to determine if the University’s students were proficient in information literacy (IL) based on the requisite skills defined by ALA (2000), to define faculty and student perceptions and behaviours related to IL and to test an evaluation rubric using empirical inquiry and triangulated methods. Findings suggested that not all students (n=164) had satisfactory IL skills even at the senior student level. While 4th year college students (seniors n=91) fared better on an IL survey when compared to 1st year college students (freshmen n=53), analysis of the senior students’ theses led researchers to believe that students were most likely not skilled in this area, and had an inflated opinion of their own IL abilities. Overall, students felt they were less IL challenged compared to the faculty’s (n=55) observation of the IL challenges experienced by the students. Students’ self-assessment of their literacy skills may have been coloured by the propensity of the faculty to over-edit students’ papers rather than simply providing constructive feedback, thus altering the natural end result. These authors used a triangulated approach including thesis review, comparisons between student and faculty survey responses and comparison of findings from the theses and the student and faculty surveys. Findings and discussion of methodology will hopefully provide valuable lessons for those interested in assessing students’ IL. 2013/12/06 - 16:40

This research study investigates academic faculty perceptions of information literacy at eight New Jersey higher educational institutions. The study examines the value and importance faculty place on information literacy (IL), the infusion of IL into curricular learning outcomes and an assessment of the competency levels students achieve in mastering IL skills. This study adds to the research in the field as a multi-institutional study conducted at both two-year and four-year institutions, investigating full-time and part-time faculty perspectives. Findings are based on results from an online survey, with a total of 353 usable responses. Overall, faculty familiarity with IL concepts was high; faculty are overwhelmingly supportive of IL and are incorporating these skills into learning outcomes for their courses; and there are strong expectations of students’ achieving IL skills by graduation, but faculty perceptions are that students fall short of mastering those skills by the end of their programmes. 2013/12/06 - 16:40

Given the growing pressure on academic institutions and, by extension, academic libraries to establish student learning outcomes and demonstrate their impact on student learning, researchers at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) explored how outcome-based instructional design can be used to 1) collect student data, 2) assess student learning, and 3) improve instruction. Two surveys were distributed to 59 undergraduate students who were enrolled in an introductory composition course at IUPUI. Because previous studies (e.g. Ford, Miller and Moss 2005) have linked human individual differences with web search strategy, the first survey collected information about the students’ demographic features. The second survey, a search log, collected information about the sources that students chose, the search terms they used and the strategies they employed in order to complete their research. The students submitted their first survey after the instructional session and the second survey after they completed their research project. Using this data, the researchers examined whether students’ achievement could be associated with their personal characteristics and/or the librarian’s instruction. In contrast to Ford, Miller and Moss’s study (2005), no significant relationships were found between students’ personal characteristics and their search behaviour. However, after receiving instruction, all students were able to create keywords and structure them into search queries using Boolean operators. These results suggest that outcome-based instructional design is an effective pedagogical method for gathering assessment data and that the survey instrument was a useful tool for assessing this outcome - by providing both a measurement of student learning and a means of evaluating the librarian’s instruction. 2013/12/06 - 16:40

This paper reports on an embedded librarian project aimed at providing incoming online graduate students with essential information literacy skills to succeed in an online programme. It describes the design and implementation of the project, the results of pre- and post-instruction surveys of students’ information literacy skills and students’ perceived ability, confidence, and anxiety when accessing information using library resources. The assessment of the embedded librarian project is discussed in the context of the methods used and the needs of online students. 2013/06/17 - 05:32

To be information literate allows professionals to be aware of and able to locate, correctly interpret and apply research evidence, professional guidelines and other key sources in a full and complete manner, in a way that promises to achieve the best outcome for their patient or client. Consequently, as suggested by early findings of an phenomenographic investigation into information literacy in nursing, to be information literate is to be ethical, not only in the correct use of information, but as part of the endeavour to achieve professional competence, and beyond that, the best practice possible. This would imply that the acquisition of information literacy has an ethical significance and value. Does information literacy education emphasise this? The literature suggests not. Could it, however, be the means of driving forward information literacy education for key professions? 2013/06/17 - 05:32

The SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy model was revised in 2011 to reflect the interpretation of information literacy in today’s environment. Subsequently, a number of lenses have been developed to adapt the core model to different contexts and user groups. This study develops a lens that aims to reflect the unique information landscape and needs of evidence based practice (EBP) in healthcare. Healthcare professionals across medicine, nursing and allied health disciplines were interviewed to explore their understanding and awareness of the clinical information seeking process and behaviours. This information was then used to construct an EBP lens using familiar healthcare terminology and concepts. Health Science librarians can use this lens as a framework to inform the design and structure of information literacy programmes for clinical staff. Further insight may also be gained by measuring the impact and effectiveness of the lens on information literacy levels and practice at a local level. 2013/06/17 - 05:32

University accreditation schemes, in some form or other, are ubiquitous among English-language speaking countries around the world. Some countries employ national or regional accreditation processes, and a few authors have explored the role of information literacy (IL) in these institution-wide accreditation practices. Little, however, has been written about IL  in the context of accreditation standards developed by various professions to regulate the quality of university programmes educating future professionals in the field. This paper investigates the potential of these professional accreditation standards to advance the IL  cause and give it a higher profile on campus. It undertakes a qualitative content analysis of the professional accreditation standards for three professions-- nursing, social work, and engineering –in Canada, the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), and Australia to determine:

  • If (and in what context) the term IL is used in the accreditation criteria
  • Other terms/language used in the accreditation criteria to describe IL  and associated skills and competencies
  • Correlations between outcomes outlined in the accreditation documents and IL competencies outlined by the library profession

The study identifies trends, both within specific professions, and within the documents produced by each of the four countries under consideration. It reports significant variation in the language used in the professions to describe the concept of IL, highlighting the alternative language used in the various professions to describe this ability. The study also maps outcomes outlined in the accreditation documents to the Association of College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL’s) Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education ((ACRL 2000) in order to identify areas of overlapping concern. In doing so, this study helps familiarise librarians with the accreditation standards in several subjects, and provides a model for librarians to use in analysing accreditation standards in other subject areas in order to advance IL  on their campuses.   This article is based on a paper presented at LILAC 2013 2013/06/17 - 05:32

Librarians in academic settings spend a significant amount of time teaching students information literacy skills. Teachers adapt their teaching activities to the constraints of the physical setting of the classroom. Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library modified a classroom from a traditional lecture room to a room where the seating was mobile. The teachers and students were observed and surveyed to see if the change in physical environment impacted the teaching style or learning activities used.  The findings indicate that teachers use familiar routines and lessons in both a traditional lecture-style classroom and a newly-designed flexible learning space as they present information literacy instruction. Teachers who recognised that students benefited from learning activities where they were active participants were more likely to incorporate small changes to their lesson plans. The classroom design can re-energise instruction if the teacher adapts their teaching style to the more flexible learning environment. This article is based on a paper presented at LILAC 2012. 2013/06/17 - 05:32