Information Literacy

What is information literacy? Read the following academic literature….

Langford (1998, p.59) stated:

  • Is it [information literacy] a concept or a process? … Or is it a new literacy that has been transformed from existing literacies to complement the emerging technologies for which the Information Age students must be skilled?

Abilock (2004, p.1) took a wide view of information literacy arguing that:

  • Information literacy is a transformational process in which the learner needs to find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms to create for personal, social or global purposes.

Herring and Tarter (2006, p.3) argued that an information literate student will be able to:

  • identify the purpose of information and ideas being sought
  • identify relevant and authoritative sources (electronic, print, human) of information and ideas
  • read/view/listen to, understand and learn from such sources by evaluating the contents of such sources in relation to their purpose
  • use the information and ideas found in the sources to produce curriculum related work (written or oral) in school and to extend their own learning of a concept or topic
  • reflect on their ability to identify a purpose for and creative use of information and ideas both within the school and elsewhere
  • transfer information skills across subjects and year levels in the school
  • transfer relevant information skills from school to further/higher education and to the workplace
  • learn and adapt to new information skills required in many workplace setting.

Information Literacy: A Clarification by Linda Langford (1998). This article begins with a brief overview of the concept of literacy. It then focuses on a series of definitions that deal with an expanding notion of literacies, and finally refocuses on information literacy.

Information literacy an overview of design, process and outcomes by D. Abilock (2004). Information Literacy is a transformational process in which the learner needs to find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms to create for personal, social or global purposes. The site lists students skill required in information literacy.

Herring, J. & Tarter A. (2007) Progress in developing information literacy in a secondary school using the PLUS model. School Libraries in View, 23, p.23-27. This article provides a critical evaluation of progress in developing information literacy in a UK secondary school using the PLUS model and the authors present a brief review of information literacy, an outline of the PLUS model, an overview of 4 research studies conducted in the school in the last 5 years and suggestions for school librarians and teachers wishing to develop information literacy in their schools.

Information Process Models

One of the distinguishing features of information literacy teaching in schools is the range of models which have been developed. A range of Information Literacy Models and Inquiry Learning Models are collated on this website

A number of information literacy models have been developed for use by teacher librarians, teachers and students but only a limited number are designed to be used by students themselves. Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP) developed in the 1980s and 1990s has been influential as it identified the affective aspects of students’ use of information skills, such as feeling of anxiety at the start of assignment planning and the ISP has been used in schools to develop in-house guidelines for students.

The PLUS model. – This model of the information skills process is called the PLUS model and seeks to incorporate the key elements of previous models while adding emphasis on thinking skills and self evaluation. PLUS incorporates the elements of Purpose, Location, Use and Self-evaluation.

The Research Cycle by Jamie Mckenzie. The purpose of this chapter is to present the Research Cycle in a concise and user friendly manner. Because such good work has already been done by those comparing and contrasting the other models, I will not duplicate their efforts here, other than to mention a special affinity with two of the models: INFOZONE and The Organized Investigator (Circular Model) because they offer much of the same emphasis upon questioning, exploration, synthesis and wondering that is intended by the Research Cycle.

The Research Cycle – Jamie Mckenzie’s site Dr. Jamie McKenzie, international consultant on inquiry-based teaching and technology integration. The Question Mark Educational Journal.

New South Wales model (NSW DET 2007) In Australia, the New South Wales model is used in many schools. The steps in this model are: Defining, Locating, Selecting, Organizing, Presenting and Assessing.

Eisenberg, M. B. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the Information Age. Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47. Information literacy (IL) is the set of skills and knowledge that allows us to find, evaluate, and use the information we need, as well as to filter out the information we don’t need. IL skills are the necessary tools that help us successfully navigate the present and future landscape of information. Information and technology affects every person in every possible setting—work, education, recreation. This paper offers an overview of IL focusing on three contexts for successful IL learning and teaching: (i) the information process itself, (ii) technology in context, and (iii) implementation through real needs in real situations. The author covers conceptual understandings of IL, the range of IL standards and models, technology within the IL framework, and practical strategies for effective IL skills learning and instruction in a range of situations.

Herring, J. (2006). A critical investigation of students’ and teachers’ views of the use of information literacy skills in school assignments. School Library Media Research, 9. This study examines the views of students and teachers in a United Kingdom high school on the students’ use of information literacy skills. The students were provided with a scaffold in the form of the PLUS information literacy model. The study demonstrates that there exists a range of understanding amongst students about the value of information literacy skills such as brainstorming, concept mapping, reading for information and understanding, note taking and writing an assignment. It also demonstrates that students have a range of views on what they perceive to be the value of learning and applying information literacy skills, and that these views range from the superficial to a deeper level. The study provides some insight into students’ feelings about confidence in their ability to produce good work and also their feelings about the efficacy of some of the suggested strategies given to them by the teachers and the school librarian. The results show that most students viewed the existence of a scaffold—the PLUS model booklet in this case—as being beneficial to them. The evidence from students demonstrates that students have a preference for electronic sources of information over printed sources. Teachers’ views supported the use of a scaffold and teachers saw the PLUS model as being of benefit to most students. Potential implications for library media specialists and teachers and suggestions for future research are included.

Wolf, S., Brush, T., & Saye, J. (2003). The Big Six information skills as a metacognitive scaffold: A case study. School Library Media Research, 6. Several information problem-solving models exist for teaching and reinforcing the research, problem-solving, and writing processes. The Big Six information skills model (Big6) is one that is primarily aimed at kindergarten through twelfth-grade students. This model is intended to foster the acquisition of research, problem-solving, and metacognitive skills through the cooperation of both school library media specialists and classroom teachers. While a strong anecdotal record exists supporting the use of Big6, empirical research support is less evident in library and education literature. This study examines the effect of Big6 on a class of eighth-grade students asked to research and write about events surrounding the African-American Civil Rights movement.

Kuhlthau, C.C. (2004). Learning as a process, in Seeking meaning: A process approach to library and information services, Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, pp.13-27, available CSU Library Reserve, and read the short article providing an overview of her ISP model. The Information Search Process (ISP) is a six stage model of the users’ holistic experience in the process of information seeking. The ISP model, based on two decades of empirical research, identifies three realms of experience: the affective (feelings), the cognitive (thoughts) and the physical (actions) common to each stage. Central to the ISP is the notion that uncertainty, both affective and cognitive, increases and decreases in the process of information seeking. A principle of uncertainty for information seeking is proposed that states that information commonly increases uncertainty in the early stages of the search process. Increased uncertainty indicates a zone of intervention for intermediaries and system designers.

Guided Inquiry as an Instructional Framework

An information literate school community is one where there is a passion for learning. The members of that community engage in practices that ensure they are well equipped to learn. The goal is for learners to become information literate, and self-directed and independent learners.This can be achieved by using guided inquiry as an instructional framework.

Guided inquiry has recently emerged as an instructional framework to support students’ information-to-knowledge journey. Guided Inquiry offers “an integrated unit of inquiry planned and guided by an instructional team of a school librarian and teachers, together allowing students to gain deeper understandings of subject area curriculum content and information literacy concepts” (Kuhlthau, Caspari, & Maniotes, 2007, p. 1).

Charles Sturt University (2012). Module of readings Information Literacy Topic 4. Retrieved April 4, 2012 from Charles Sturt Interact ETL401

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Westport CT: Libraries Unlimited. A comprehensive and current text by one of the leaders in the field of guided inquiry. Included in this book is a solid explanation of what inquiry based learning is, how best to implement the theory in the classroom, and the impact constructivist learning has on students. The book references research and studies that proves that guided inquiry works and also incorporates different ways school staff and community members can contribute to student learning.

Kuhlthau, C. K. (2010). Building Guided Inquiry Teams for 21st-Century Learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18. How can students learn to think for themselves, make good decisions, develop expertise, and become lifelong learners in a rapidly changing information environment? How can students learn, create, and find meaning from multiple sources of information? These are fundamental questions facing educators in designing schools for 21st-century learners. Guided inquiry is a practical way of implementing an inquiry approach that addresses these 21st-century learning needs for students.

Kuhlthau and colleagues at the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL), Rutgers University (Todd, Kuhlthau, & Heinström, 2005; Kuhlthau, Caspari, & Maniotes, 2007) have developed support documentation to assist schools in implementing a guided inquiry approach to supporting student learning, including the application of the evidence-based practice toolkit known as the School Library Impact Measure (SLIM) survey toolkit.

Scheffers, J. (2008). Guided inquiry: A learning journey. Scan, 27(4), 34-42. Guided Inquiry in practice.

Sheerman, A. (2011). Accepting the challenge: Evidence based practice at Broughton Anglican College. Scan, 30(2), 24-33. Alinda Sheerman presents the learning, implementation and results of collaborative action research projects, which used guided inquiry as a framework. The evidence provides an exciting example of the explicit learning gains and student engagement achieved through this approach.

Sheerman, A., Little, J., & Breward, N. (2011). iInquire… iLearn… iCreate… iShare: Guided Inquiry at Broughton Anglican College. Scan, 30(1), 4-5. Years 7-10 syllabus the students completed research of personally selected topic. A class wiki was used to share and present the learning. The teacher librarian supported the teacher and students in a teams approach to leaning and also undertook action research to assess the use of Guided Inquiry in the teaching and learning process.

Fitzgerald, L. (2011). The twin purposes of Guided Inquiry: Guiding student inquiry and evidence based practice. Scan, 30(1), 26-41. Lee FitzGerald provides an overview of a Guided Inquiry project under-taken by teachers, teacher librarians and student groups participating in the 2008 NSW Association of Independent Schools project. the paper includes Lee’s case study, which focuses on her small scale practitioner research on a 2010 Year 11 modern historical investigation.

Inquiry Learning page at the TL Center website has a vast amount of references on this learning theory framework. A list of these are: keywords regarding inquiry learning; reference books; reference journal articles; websites/web resources; essential open web resources and inquiry based lessons and strategies books, journals and websites.

Information Literacy Transfer

The question might be asked: To what extent do students transfer information literacy skills across time and across the curriculum? Transfer is seen as one of the key aspects of education, in both primary and secondary schools. For example, teachers will expect students to transfer skills, techniques and abilities from year to year, building on their previous knowledge e.g., in English, History, Maths or Science. Also, teachers also actively encourage transfer by recapping what has been taught before.

There are many assumptions made by teacher librarians, teachers and school management about information literacy and transfer in high schools. For example, school staff may assume:

  • that information literacy is developed across the school
  • that there is a common understanding in the school of information literacy
  • that all students understand the concepts that lie behind information literacy teaching
  • that transfer of knowledge and skills is a key element of high school education
  • that students will transfer knowledge and skills across time and across the curriculum as a matter of course
  • that students and school staff will view information literacy teaching in a similar way (Herring 2011a).

Research in this area has recently been carried out by James Herring. As well as the Teacher Librarian article above, you can also read an article which focuses on concept mapping and transfer (Herring 2011b).

(Herring 2011a) Herring, J. (2011). Assumptions, Information Literacy and Transfer in High Schools. Teacher, 38(3), 32-36.
(Herring 2011b) Herring, J. (2011). Year seven students, concept mapping and the issues of transfer.School Libraries Worldwide, 17(1), 11-23.
Charles Sturt University (2012). Module of readings Information Literacy Topic 4. Retrieved April 4, 2012 from Charles Sturt Interact ETL401

Emergence of new literacy labels with the convergence of information literacy and digital literacies

There have been a number documents published which attempt to address the convergence of information literacy skills and understandings with essential digital learning skills.
The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Standards for the 21st century learner (2007) tries to define information and technology, skills, understandings and values. Standards for the 21st Century Learner PDF. Other models that are similar is the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy’s Digital Information Fluency (DIF) model (2002-2009) and New York City School Library System’s Information Fluency Continuum (2005).

Charles Sturt University (2012). Module of readings Information Literacy Topic 4. Retrieved April 4, 2012 from Charles Sturt Interact ETL401

Warlick, D. (2007). Literacy in the new information landscape, Library Media Connection, 26, 20-21). Dramatic changes in information do not mean that we must change our definition of literacy, but they do point to an expanded notion of what those skills are. Information, to students is like raw material. The video game, their music, the images and other content that they find online and collect with their digital cameras, all owe much of their value to what can be done with them. Mixing captured video game footage, with music, still images, and vocal overlays is just one of many ways that they are remixing content, taking information raw materials and assembling them into something that is personally pleasing.

Lorenzo, G. (2007). Catalysts for Change: Information Fluency, Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and the New Education Culture, Clarence Center, NY: Lorenzo Associates, Inc., March. Ipri, T. (2010). Introducing transliteracy. College & Research Libraries News, 71(10), 532-567.

Ipri, T. (2010). Introducing trans-literacy. College & Research Libraries News, 71(10), 532-567. Trans-literacy is recent terminology gaining currency in the library world. It is a broad term encompassing and transcending many existing concepts. Because trans-literacy is not a library-centric concept, many in the profession are unsure what the term means and how it relates to libraries’ instructional mission and to other existing ideas about various literacies. Trans-literacy is such a new concept that its working definition is still evolving and many of its tenets can easily be misinterpreted.

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