Information literacy reflective essay


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Rather, one develops a repertoire of skills, knowledge and awareness from which one draws as needed.

As mentioned above, the concept of learning information literacy has a particular meaning in a phenomenographic context. Phenomenography regards learning as 'a change from one way of understanding to another, qualitatively more complex one' Dall'Alba, , p. For someone to learn, they have to discern variation in something they previously knew or experienced.

People become aware of this variation, of things they had not previously been aware of, and learning takes place Bowden and Marton, ; Marton and Booth, Thus, ' information literacy is learned when different ways of experiencing it are discerned ' Bruce, Edwards and Lupton, , p. We present the different ways in which learning information literacy is discerned by a group of university students studying education.

There are many studies investigating people's experiences of information seeking and use and information literacy in an educational context. We have restricted the literature presented in this paper to phenomenographic studies that relate to our study of university students. We have analysed the results of these studies for the implicit or explicit view of learning information literacy inherent in them.

Our belief is that conceptions of information literacy necessarily include a view of learning information literacy, either implicitly or explicitly. We undertook the analysis by reading and evaluating each of the phenomenographic categories reported in the studies.

Information Literacy Is Very Important For University Students Education Essay

With each category we asked: if information literacy is experienced in a particular way in this category, then what might be a corresponding conception of learning information literacy? As information literacy educators, we might ask the same question to explore how we might go about teaching information literacy.

For instance, if information literacy is experienced as seeking evidence Lupton, , then learning information literacy could be viewed as learning to find and evaluate evidence. As educators, we would then design curricula where students learn about the nature of evidence in the particular discipline while learning to find and evaluate evidence.

It should be noted that the views of learning information literacy we propose in the studies of information literacy reviewed in this article are generalisations and extrapolations of the researchers' original findings. There are two groups of studies relevant to our study. The first group investigated senior secondary school and university students' experiences of information literacy and the second group investigated educators' experiences of information literacy in higher education.

The participants in our study were undergraduate and postgraduate education students, some of whom were practising teachers; thus studies of both students and teachers form a relevant comparison. Both groups of studies include information literacy in a general academic context Bruce, ; Maybee, , versus information literacy in a disciplinary context Andretta, ; Boon, Johnston and Webber, ; Bruce et al. The first group of studies investigated students' experiences of information seeking and use Limberg, , and information literacy Andretta, ; Lupton, , a, b ; Maybee, , Limberg, Lupton and Andretta's studies were conducted in a disciplinary context — Year 12 social studies i.

It is apparent that students' experiences in these studies were related to the context in which they were using information, including disciplinary context, subject content and the year level of the student. In our analysis of these studies, we propose that experiences of learning information literacy range from learning to find information, learning techniques, applying learning, building knowledge and understanding and learning about professional practice. For instance, the university students in Maybee's , studies experienced information literacy as finding information through using information technology, finding information sources, initiating an information process and building a personal knowledge base.

Thus, we suggest that students would experience learning information literacy as learning information technology applications and tools, to effectively search for information and to critically evaluate the information they find. Furthermore, students would experience learning information literacy as learning the steps of the information process, and learning to build a personal knowledge base. First-year environmental studies students Lupton, experienced information literacy as seeking evidence, developing an argument, and solving environmental problems. We propose that in order for students to seek evidence, they need to learn to search for information, distinguish between different forms of evidence such as facts, opinions, ideas and perspectives, develop an argument through learning about the topic, and structure their argument effectively.

To solve environmental problems students need to learn to apply their knowledge, problem solve and to take social and political action. Third-year music students Lupton, a , b experienced information literacy as applying techniques, undertaking a compositional process and creating art. Thus, students might experience learning information literacy as learning a range of skills relating to information technology tools and music composition techniques, learning the process of creating music, and learning to express their identify as a composer.

Third-year tax accounting students Lupton, a , b experienced information literacy as applying academic techniques, undertaking a knowledge building process and understanding the tax law system.


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Learning information literacy in this context might involve learning legal research and academic writing, learning about the topic, and learning about the various impacts of the tax law system. Postgraduate information management students Andretta, experienced information literacy as finding information for everyday personal contexts, satisfying the information needs of clients, personal lifelong learning, and enabling others to become lifelong learners.

Here, learning information literacy might involve not only learning to find and use information for personal and professional development, but also learning to enable others clients to do so. This would involve learning about the needs of clients. Also relevant to our study are university educators' experiences of information literacy. Bruce identified seven qualitatively different ways of experiencing information literacy: information technology, information sources, information processes, information control, knowledge construction, knowledge extension, and wisdom.

Similarly, studies of marketing and English academics revealed variable experiences, ranging from accessing information and using technology to critical thinking and becoming a practitioner Boon et al. As with the studies investigating students' experiences of information literacy, these studies do not explicitly address learning information literacy. However, the experience of learning information literacy can be extrapolated. For higher educators, these experiences might include learning skills and processes, and learning to use information to solve problems, extend knowledge and benefit others.

Like the studies of students, these studies found a qualitative distinction between using library and information skills, and applying information to create new knowledge and effectively engage in professional practice. For instance, a study of English academics Boon et al.

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Thus, we propose that learning information literacy includes learning to use information technology tools to find information, as well as learning and applying library and critical thinking skills. Marketing academics Webber et al. The experiences of these academics encompasses learning information skills to find and use information, and learning to solve problems, think critically and use information in professional practice.

Finally, from Bruce's foundational study it can be extrapolated that higher educators might experience learning information literacy as learning the skills and processes used to find, manage, organise, control and use information. Higher educators also experience it as learning to use information to build a personal knowledge base, to create new knowledge and to benefit others. The analysis of these studies reveals aspects of experience in common and aspects related to the disciplinary and professional context. For instance, all studies included finding information, using a range of information and communication technology skills and undergoing some sort of process.

The studies that were based in a professional disciplinary context revealed a client focus and a focus on developing as a practitioner accounting, marketing, information management.

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Humanities and social science contexts included independent learning and critical thinking English, marketing. Environmental studies included a community and social action focus, while music had a focus on artistic expression. The aspects of information literacy that students need to learn for university study and professional practice have obvious implications for developing higher education curricula. Along with the skills needed to find and access information, and general critical thinking skills used to evaluate information, students need to learn disciplinary and professional information practices in order to use information and apply their understanding within a context.

We used the qualitative interpretative method, phenomenography, to investigate the depth and range of experiences needed to address our research question, What are the different ways students experience learning information literacy? In this study, the phenomenon is learning information literacy. Phenomenography is the most appropriate method, as it reveals the critical differences in the range of ways a phenomenon is experienced.

These differences are ' educationally critical ' Marton and Booth, , p. Phenomenography is also appropriate as this study complements the existing body of information literacy phenomenographic research. As the most important aim in recruiting participants for phenomenographic research is to achieve maximum variation Trigwell, , study participants were volunteers recruited from two distinct areas in the Faculty of Education at a large Australian university.

The first group of students was recruited from the Bachelor of Technology Education, an undergraduate programme that prepares students for teaching careers that focus on industrial and engineering technology, design and graphics. While students undertake text-based work such as essay writing, much of their degree is applied and a large proportion of the assessment is practical, comprising folios, workshop activities, and the design and construction of artifacts.


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Participants comprised five students who entered the programme over the age of twenty-five and who had a trade background and two students who entered directly from secondary school. All participants were male. The second group of students was recruited from education programmes that required more traditional text-based assignments and research. The eight participants in this group included two males and six females. All were mature-aged students, with four former teachers and two practising teachers.

One was an undergraduate and the remaining seven were postgraduate students, three of whom were doctoral students.

Learning information literacy

The fifteen participants reflect the recommended minimum number to achieve variation in a phenomenographic study whilst remaining practicable Trigwell, Phenomenography is a qualitative, interpretative approach. It generally uses semi-structured interviews as its data source. Interviews were conducted and transcribed verbatim. The interview questions started with a specific focus on an assignment the student had recently completed.

This was followed by questions that asked participants to reflect on comparable assignments and note similarities and differences in their approach to finding and using information. These contextual questions were followed by open questions that focused specifically on learning to use information.

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Students were asked how they learned to find and use information for their assignments, and to reflect on what would have helped them to learn to find and use information more effectively. A number of probing questions were used to explore the depth of students' responses. The questions included:. In a phenomenographic study the researcher does not enter the data collection or analysis phases with predetermined theories or categories.

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