Information Literacy Research Papers at ALISE 2011

ALISE 2011 session of three juried papers on information literacy (IL). The session was titled, “Helping Students be Competitive,” but I didn’t find this to be the best title for the session. It’s a session about information literacy (and yes, being information literate makes one more competitive), so have information literacy in the title. Anyway, onward to the summary!

Evidence-Based Design of Information Literacy Instruction: Innovation in Pedagogy for the Library and for the MLIS
by Heidi Julien and Kathleen DeLong (University of Alberta)

This project looks at pedagogy in LIS education, which is influenced by many factors: ALA Committee on Accreditation, faculty experience, etc. Project wanted to develop empirical evidence for improving pedagogy. The project also looks at practice and instruction in University libraries which is influenced by similar factors: standards, experience, talking with colleagues, etc.

Study looks at experiences of undergraduates transition from high school to the post-secondary environment. Looking to improve design of IL pedagogy. Assesses skill development of selected secondary and post-secondary students, focusing on arts and social sciences students. Looking at the gap in the literature as research studies do not look at both secondary and post-secondary education together in IL research. Examines students’ experiences as they complete their last year of high school through the start of their undergraduate studies. The researchers are using the James Madison University’s “Information Literacy Test.” Recruitment of undergraduates for interviews proved difficult.

Findings and Implications: students recognized the importance of IL skills but were unaware of the resources available to support them. Librarian-taught courses are still rare. Students are not entering post-secondary education with well-developed IL skills.

Information Literacy and Its Discontents: Lessons from College Students with Below Proficient Skills
by Don Latham and Melissa Gross (Florida State University)

Talking about “Attaining Information Literacy Project” which is IMLS-funded project. Purpose: to identify students with below-proficient IL skills, gather data about their conceptions of and experiences with IL, and develop an IL intervention that will address their needs. Defining IL as: finding, evaluating, and using information.

Guiding principles: evidence-based approach (yay!), focus on issues of student perceptions, develop learner-centered instruction, and develop reality-based instruction. Used the Information Literacy Test from James Madison University. (Second yay! Latham and Gross used Bruce’s relational model of IL.)

Findings: students didn’t perceive IL as a discrete set of skills, below-proficient students in the study greatly over-estimated their performance on the IL test and described their IL skills as “good” or “above average.” Students wanted in-person instruction and interactive learning.

Conclusions: Used Bruce’s Informed Learning Approach (which emphasizes learner experiences and perceptions and the need for a personal relevance framework) to focus on self-generated rather than imposed information seeking, web searching rather than database searching and provide an incentive.

Goals of Instruction: change learners’ conception of skills required, change learners’ conception of their personal ability, and teach one skill that learners can readily use that will improve both self-generated and imposed information task outcomes.

Developed ASE (Analyse, Search, Evaluate) Model developed as an intervention and tested in an iterative process. Will deliver intervention in February and assess model.

Information Seeking Experiences of the Post-Secondary Distance/Online Student
by Nancy E. Black (University of British Columbia PhD candidate)

Questions: what does information seeking look like for the distance student? What are the lived experiences? What are the: barriers, strategies, themes and contexts?

Black used the theoretical frameworks of: hermeneutic phenomenology and communicative action. She used semi-structure interviews, verbal analysis protocol, and reflexive journals as her methodology.

Findings: majority thought of Google first for searching, not a surprising finding for Black (and not surprising for most), then used Wikipedia and Google Scholars, and interviewees also talked a lot about time (different conceptions of time and when searching ended) and motivation (different motivating factors and different degrees of motivation). Other patterns: appreciation of the option of distance learning, technological barriers to searching, and dislike of collaboration/group projects.

Final Thoughts
It was great to hear about evidence-based research on information literacy and researchers from North America using Bruce’s work and not exclusively relying on the ACRL definitions/standards of IL. It will be interesting to read more about the results of these multi-year projects when they are finished.