7 Things You Should Know About the Information-Seeking Behaviors and Information Literacy Skills of the 21st Century Learner<br />Bobbie B. Keenan<br />Georgia Southern University<br />FRIT 7136 – Reference and Information Sources<br />Dr. Judith Repman<br />September 27, 2010<br />Scenario<br />The Standards for 21st Century Learners are rapidly being adopted as the collective educational mindset emerges from the drudgery of the traditional classroom and soars into the ever evolving information age. The Standards for 21st Century Learners help students acquire information literacy skills that are essential to effectively navigate the vast amounts of information available to students of all ages on the internet. It is vital that students, with the guidance of educators, develop information literacy skills that will allow them to recognize which information is useful, reliable, and relevant to their needs. Information literacy skills will enable learners to be able to problem solve, analyze, organize, and evaluate information, and acquire new knowledge throughout their life time. <br />What is it?<br />21st Century Learning Standards are standards developed by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) to help educators so they can effectively prepare students for information driven society. Standards for 21st Century Learners are:<br /><ul><li>Inquire, think critically and gain knowledge
Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge.
Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society.
Pursue personal and aesthetic growth (American Association of School Librarians, 2009).</li></ul>These standards can be applied to all content areas and across all grade levels and beyond. The standards have defined indicators and benchmarks established for specific grades to ensure that the standards are being met in a consistent and timely manner. Information literacy is a resource-based approach to learning in the classroom, library media center, and community. Teachers and library media specialists work together to provide students with a wide array of resources to solve problems (Bucher, 2000).<br />Who is doing it?<br />Fifth grade is one of the benchmark academic years for 21st Century Learning Standards. In fifth grade learning becomes more formal as students prepare to go to middle school, so it’s a good time to evaluate where students are and what they know. In order for educators to successfully implement 21st Century Learning Standards and help students develop information literacy skills they must understand the information-seeking behaviors of the average fifth grader in order to anticipate problems that might arise <br />Currently, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin have implemented the 21st Century Learning Standards into their K-12 curriculums. <br />How does it work?<br />The Standards for 21st Century Learners enables students to use information literacy skills to better understand and navigate what they encounter on the Internet and with other forms of media. Students that don’t have information literacy skills tend to exhibit information seeking behaviors that prevent them from achieving their goals. For example, researchers looking for ways to better utilize and make available web resources for primary school students, found that students without adequate information literacy skills displayed multiple information seeking behaviors that were counter-productive . <br />Weakness in technical literacy skills hampered students in the Bowler study. Some students did not have knowledge of how computers work beyond entertainment purposes.<br />When beginning a research assignment, students had a tendency pick a subject that was too broad. They didn’t demonstrate inquiry skills such as brainstorming, listing key concepts, formulating initial questions, and exploring relationships by clustering and networking key concepts (Bowler, Large, & Rejskind, 2001).<br />Fifth grade search strategies consisted of browsing and single word searches. These broad methods of searching left most students feeling overwhelmed with information that may or may not be relevant to their search. <br />In early digital media studies, it was found that children did not explore text-only sites often; preferred sites with high visual content and short, simple textual content, and liked more animation and interactivity on the Internet (Dresang, 2005).<br />Students only spent an average of 48 seconds on websites before navigating to another site leaving no time to properly evaluate a site for relevance or reliability (Hirsch, 1999).<br />Students rarely question the accuracy of the information they found (Hirsch, 1999).<br />According to Eliza T. Dresang’s study on information seeking behavior, students prefer to work in groups for computer work.<br />Why is it significant?<br />It is mandatory that today’s students be computer literate as early as possible in order to have as many options as possible available to them. In addition, a student needs the skills to accurately find relevant and correct information. Once they have established these skills they will be able to explore other information, learn more, and add to their store of knowledge as they grow. Also, having the ability to collaborate and share information with others online or in person is also a vital skill for the 21st century and beyond. Having information literacy skills helps students identify behaviors that will enable them to be successful and avoid behaviors that would inevitably leave them frustrated. <br />What are the downsides?<br />Students that have poor technical literacy skills need to have physical access to computers to overcome this weakness. Library Media Specialist must advocate to ensure that the media center is not only made available to students beyond school hours, but also that the media center has working equipment for students, teachers, and the community if necessary.<br />Students that do not know how to effectively search for information in a timely manner, will end up frustrated at best, and give up altogether at worst. <br />Students that cannot learn how to view text information as well as visual information will most likely not be able to find accurate or relevant information which can hinder their learning experience. <br />Students that do not take the time to properly evaluate websites for relevance and accuracy will ultimately waste valuable learning time dealing with inaccurate information. <br />Students that do not have good information literacy skills and practice poor information seeking behaviors will ultimately end up frustrated and behind. <br />Where is it going?<br />Standards for 21st Century Learners have already been adopted in Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin have implemented the 21st Century Learning Standards into their K-12 curriculums. The other states have some form of the information literacy skills standards as part of their K-12 curriculums. There is no doubt that the world of education is evolving at a more rapid rate than in previous years and everyone must get one board. As students and educators continue to acquire and use information literacy skills, the library media specialist will have to ensure that they stay informed and up-to-date on all the new and relevant technologies as they are made available. The role of the library media specialists will no doubt take on a more prominent role in schools. They will need to not only guide students through myriads of information, they will also serve as an invaluable resource for teachers and administrators alike. Schools that have fully embraces the Standards for 21st Century Learners are currently teaching information literacy skills are ahead of the game and altering their view of education, and it is just a matter of time until they are joined by the rest. Library Media Specialist will lead the way to a better way of learning that will serve their students far beyond their school years.<br />What are the implications for teaching and learning?<br />Teachers have to begin viewing their role differently. Instead of strictly teaching facts to students, teachers much now combine the fact-based teaching with information seeking. Using the Standards for 21st Century Learners as a guideline, teachers can teach students how to have a more active role in what they learn and how they learn. Students will no longer be passive learners, but active participants that rely on teachers to guide and advise them through their educational career. Students can become competent, independent users and evaluators of information. The key is for educators to help them develop the skills to evaluate information and to separate superfluous data from essential details (Bucher, 2000).<br />References<br />American Association of School Librarians, Initials. (2009). Standards for the 21st-century learner in action. Chicago, Illinois: American Association of School Librarians.<br />Bowler, L., Large, A., & Rejskind, G. (2001). Primary school students, information literacy and the Web. Education for Information, 19(3), 201. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.<br />Bucher, K. (2000). The importance of information literacy skills in the middle school curriculum. Clearing House, 73(4), 217. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.<br />David, J. (2009). Teaching media literacy. Educational Leadership, 66(6), 84-86. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database. <br />Dresang, E. (2005). The Information-Seeking Behavior of Youth in the Digital Environment. Library Trends, 54(2), 178-196. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.<br />Hirsch, S. (1999). Children's Relevance Criteria and Information Seeking on Electronic Resources. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 50(14), 1265-1283. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database. <br />