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Information Literacy

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Research (supplemented by informal observation) over the past ten years has shown that students of all ages have particular difficulties finding, interacting with and using information; difficulties …

Research (supplemented by informal observation) over the past ten years has shown that students of all ages have particular difficulties finding, interacting with and using information; difficulties that are exacerbated by characteristics of the WWW and by the nature of students’ interaction with it. If we want students to develop as independent learners and problem –solvers, in and out of the classroom, we need to address these difficulties in a systematic way.

http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/slf/previousconferences/2007/seminars/informationliteracywhatwhyandhow.asp

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  • 1. Information Literacy: Why? What? How? Sharon Markless King’s College London
  • 2.
    • This presentation draws on the research and development work of:
    • Carol Kuhlthau
    • Louise Limberg
    • Ross Todd
    • Dorothy Williams and Carol Wavell
    • Christine Bruce
    • Sharon Markless and David Streatfield
  • 3. Information Literacy: Why?
    • What strategies do students need to be effective in the current developing information environment?
  • 4. Student interactions with electronic information?
    • Expectations:‘ the answer is out there’; dependency
    • Potential for passive reception-no thought
    • Very quick decisions about usefulness (30 seconds); seduced by design!
    • Believe plausible presentation/official looking sites
    • ‘ good enough’ not ‘the best’
  • 5. Problems students have making effective use of the WWW
    • How to narrow searches
    • Which search engines may be best for a topic
    • Sorting out disinformation and misinformation; judging opinion, rumour, propaganda
    • The status of of collaboratively generated and edited information
    • Being selective/ not distracted by interesting stuff!
    • Skimming and scanning for meaning
    • Synthesising/rewording: making sense! unintentional plagiarism?
  • 6. Information Literacy: What?
    • Where do these challenges leave information literacy?
    • How should we think about it?
  • 7. Information Literacy too often is :
    • About searching for information (including Dewey and pressing the right keys!)
    • About finding the right information: webpage/resource/answer
    • Technical procedures and tools; skills
    • About libraries and resources
    • A destination
    • A separate subject
  • 8. Realities of Information Literacy ( Ross Todd, SLA conference,2005; Louise Limberg, i3 Conference, 2007)
    • About learning
    • About building knowledge and understanding ; content alongside process
    • a range of complex processes related to context
    • An enabler of reading, research and successfully tackling academic tasks
    • Not surfing for information but swimming actively in it to arrive somewhere new
  • 9. ‘ Skills’ – a problematic word
    • It labels and separates
    • It appears mechanistic
    • Degenerates into ‘laundry lists’ (Eisenberg)
    • Teaching skills versus transformative interventions?
  • 10.
    • “ The scaffolds enabling students to engage effectively with, and to make use of, information in all its forms (electronic, print, popular culture) and formats (e.g. visual, graphic) in order to to extract meaning, to build new knowledge and understanding, and to produce authentic work”
    • Adapted from Professor Ross Todd, 2005
    • Paper at SLA Conference, University of Surrey
  • 11. What do we mean by scaffolds? Intellectual, affective and social processes
    • Knowledge of how to engage with information in order to learn meaningfully
    • Skills/strategies that enable students to engage with information and to produce authentic work (technical including reading; analytical; evaluative; reflective e.g. considering alternatives)
    • Attitudes (incl. confidence) e motions and values
    • Social abilities to engage productively with peers
  • 12. Much more than just a shopping list of skills and procedures…
    • “ Processes that draw on critical thinking, problem solving, and extensive understanding of information (its creation, organisation and problematic nature) … ( Moore, P. 2005)
    • “ In the 21 st century …we need to focus on tools for the construction of meaning and understanding and for interpreting information; on using information for problem-solving, not on the technology of finding … “
    • (Professor Carol Kuhlthau, i3 Conference, 2007)
    • “… a set of abilities for seeking and using information in purposeful ways related to task, situation and context…Influential studies have abandoned the idea of IL as a set of generic skills to be applied anywhere,,,”
    • (Louise Limberg, i3 conference 2007, Aberdeen)
  • 13. A non sequential framework to encourage student choice in different contexts
    • Based on a fusion of two research-based published models, a non-linear model of information-seeking behaviour devised by Allen Foster (2004) and a model of information and critical literacies offered by Ross Todd(2001 etc.)
    • Published in Andretta, S. (2007) Change and Challenge: Information Literacy for the 21 st Century Auslib (Copyright S Markless)
  • 14. Information and Critical Literacies Connecting with Information ( orientation; exploring; focussing; locating) Making use of information ( transforming; communicating; applying ) Interacting with Information ( Thinking critically; evaluating; transforming; constructing ) Monitoring progress Reflecting on the experience and the outcome
  • 15. Connecting with Information problem definition reviewing identifying sources orientation focussing networking picture building browsing exploring l locating systematic searching M o n I t o r I n g p r o g r e s s
  • 16. Interacting with Information questioning and challenging filtering knowing enough thinking critically refining and interpreting synthesising and analysing transforming constructing l evaluating Imposing structure R e f l e c t I n g
  • 17. Making Use of Information restructuring transforming taking ownership of the learning communicating applying R e f l e c t I n g o n t h e e x p e r i e n c e a n d t h e o u t c o m e Citing and referencing
  • 18. Information Literacy: How? 1
    • Where and when might we develop it?
  • 19. 1: Key points for IL support in the learning task
    • Negotiating and clarifying learning goals (including content goals)
    • During the critical role of exploration; building background knowledge
    • Enabling learners to formulate and refine high quality research questions (via peer discussion, browsing, feedback; takes time)
    • When learners are evaluating and using information to tackle the problem/question
  • 20. The Information Search Process ( Kulthau,C. 1994 )
    • Initiation - apprehension, uncertainty
    • Selecting a topic- confusion, anxiety, anticipation
    • Exploring information- confusion, uncertainty, doubt
    • Formulating a focus- optimism, some confidence
    • Collecting information- increased interest, confidence, realisation of amount to be done
    • Preparing to present- sense of relief, disappointment, satisfaction
  • 21. Issue…
    • When doing research, students need to stop perceiving the task as primarily one of gathering and presenting information and instead, see it as a task of forming their own focussed perspective from the information encountered
    • How can we re-focus our students?
  • 22. 2: In which situations should we actively enhance information literacy?
    • In context (relevance): critical evaluation of sources to construct a position for an essay v general guidance on evaluation. Content matters!
    • When needed (timeliness) : when doing an authentic task; to move learners on in their work; at transition points (safe learning environment?).
    • Across different subjects with different types of resources and information; context affects practice.
  • 23.
    • So, what about transfer and progression when considering the where and when of IL?
  • 24. Transfer: chimera or reality?
    • “ Even when students are able to demonstrate mastery of certain skills, they are unlikely to transfer these skills to new areas of learning on their own.”
    • Grotzer, 2005
    • “ Research suggests that it is much easier to prevent or disrupt transfer across contexts than to successfully promote it.”
    • “ We were surprised at the extent of similarity it is possible to have between two problems, without learners realising that the two situations require the same type of solution.”
    • Perkins and Salomon, 1992
  • 25. Situated Learning/ Cognition
    • What is learnt is learnt in relation to specific contexts, not inherently general.
  • 26. Benefits of Situated Cognition as a theoretical basis for Learning
    • Learn about conditions for applying knowledge and skills
    • See implications of skills/knowledge
    • Supported by context in adapting skills to real situations
    • Authentic contexts support development of advanced thinking (Construction)
  • 27. Mechanisms of Transfer
    • Low road transfer : reflexive, automatic triggering, little active thought
    • High road transfer : mindful, conscious, deliberate, search for connections
  • 28. Can we do anything to encourage transfer?
    • Design challenging tasks so that learners are actively engaged in extensive practice (conditions for transfer)
    • Apply, re-apply, re-teach and feedback in different contexts
    • Explicit abstraction and overt, specific connections to other applications
    • Focus on purpose of strategies
    • Consider how strategies might be adapted
    • Build in time for discussion and reflection
    • Design activities that encourage self-monitoring and self-regulation (assessment for learning?)
  • 29. But we have problems: the school and HE context…
    • Teaching in separate boxes; experience fragmented and erratic
    • Little extraction of general principles
    • Few cross-curriculum connections made overtly
    • Little focus on reflection
    • Looking for ‘the right answers’
  • 30. Progression: orderly and structured?
    • Scaffolding/zone of proximal intervention
    • “ The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows; ascertain this then you can determine where the gaps are and teach him accordingly”
    • (Ausubel: 1968)
  • 31. Information Literacy: How? 2
    • What are the most effective interventions? (based on sound learning theories and principles)
  • 32. 1: Understand and use influences on effective learning
    • Needing to learn (relevance/timeliness/ real needs/ real consequences)
    • Wanting to learn (achieving success; feeling valued/self esteem; potential not deficit model)
    • Active engagement/practice/challenge
    • Feedback answering ‘what can I do to improve?’
    • Reflection and planning essential-build them in
  • 33. 2: Don’t be seduced by the myth of teaching IL as transmission
    • “ We teachers and others are in the grip of an astonishing delusion. We think we can take a picture, a structure, a working model of something constructed in our minds out of long experience and familiarity, and by turning it into a string of words or actions transplant it whole into the mind of someone else …”
    • (John Holt, in Sotto q.v.)
  • 34. 3: Understand learning as construction and enable learners to build meaning by :
    • testing ideas and thoughts against prior knowledge and experience
    • listening, formulating questions, discussing, arguing, speculating, sharing ideas.
    • solving problems using new and existing information
    • active thinking, reflecting, and analysing; developing their own viewpoints, not just ‘doing ’
  • 35. Help students construct meaning
    • Design interesting situations to explore that encourage discussion, hypothesis, question formulation, own interpretation…
    • Set up authentic, real-world problems/tasks (not sequence of instruction: “this is how to…”)
    • Model-the teacher/librarian puts her/his mind on display (make processes visible)
    • Enable critical reflection on processes and target setting
    • Enable focussed feedback, peer & ‘expert’
    • Constructivism involves healthy doses of play
  • 36. 4a:Make connections between IL and content…
    • Avoid:
    • Skills-led approach
    • Allowing a sequential process to dominate (this is how to…) rather than task focus
    • Lack of focus on developing knowledge; learning always has content as well as process
    • Dorothy Williams, Making Connections, Information Literacy Conference, London, 2007,
  • 37. 4b: use timely interventions (mediation) in the task
    • Identify critical learning points in task (where do learners need something in order to move on?)
    • Focus on localised and learner context as well as IL ‘skills’, in effective mediation
    • Choose mediation style and focus carefully
    • Set content alongside process objectives
    • More progress in information-based activities in school when more mediation v skills-led lessons
    • (Williams and Wavell, i3 Conference,2007)
  • 38. 5: Enable learners to see alternatives/ different lenses through which to view a task
    • Variation Theory:
    • Learning is about changes in conception-assist students in developing new and more complex ways of experiencing information literacy
    • Teaching and learning activities should be designed to enable students to develop more complex understandings; to enable choice of strategies, learners need the whole repertoire to draw on
    • Christine Bruce in Andretta, S. 2007, Chapter 2.
  • 39. Variation in information searching:
    • looking for a needle in a haystack
    • finding a way through a maze;
    • as using the tools as a filter
    • as panning for gold
    • Which is the most appropriate to use in different contexts?
    • TASK: experience variety on-line and reflect on differences:
    • For each of the searches on the two sources note down
    • How many results you obtained
    • What type of results e.g too broad? Too narrow?
    • Area in which you didn’t get the answers that you expected etc
  • 40. To be effective …
    • In effective information literacy
    • sessions students are put into the role
    • of ‘the learner’ rather than ‘the taught’

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