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Information Literacy and the transition to University education: reflections and initial findings from Lancaster University Institute of Curriculum Enhancement (ICE) fellowship research project - Paul Newnham

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Overview
• Sponsorship and support for
research project
• Aims, focus of research, research
questions
• My research in con...

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Sponsorship and support
• Lancaster University Institute of
Curriculum Enhancement (ICE)
• ICE Fellowships
• Library, Libr...

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Information Literacy and the transition to University education: reflections and initial findings from Lancaster University Institute of Curriculum Enhancement (ICE) fellowship research project - Paul Newnham

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Presented at LILAC 2022

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Information Literacy and the transition to University education: reflections and initial findings from Lancaster University Institute of Curriculum Enhancement (ICE) fellowship research project - Paul Newnham

  1. 1. Information Literacy and the transition to University education: reflections and initial findings from Lancaster University Institute of Curriculum Enhancement (ICE) fellowship research project Paul Newnham Faculty Librarian (Teaching and Learning) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Lancaster University
  2. 2. Overview • Sponsorship and support for research project • Aims, focus of research, research questions • My research in context • Methodology • Initial findings and emerging themes • Questions and discussion Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  3. 3. Sponsorship and support • Lancaster University Institute of Curriculum Enhancement (ICE) • ICE Fellowships • Library, Library Director, Library Leadership team, line manager – Lesley English • Lancaster University Social Work Lecturers in Sociology Department – Hannah Morgan • Blackpool Sixth Form College – Helen Crowther Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  4. 4. Aim and focus of Research • Aim – to understand students needs relating to information literacy and explore how the Library can support students through transition • Information Literacy • Transition to University • Critical thinking Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  5. 5. • RQ1 What understandings do sixth form students have about what constitutes information literacy? • RQ2 What information literacy skills do sixth form students have? • RQ3 What understandings do first year University undergraduate students have about what constitutes information literacy? • RQ4 What information literacy skills do first year University undergraduate students have? • RQ5 How can the Library influence and enhance teaching information literacy skills and critical thinking at the level of sixth form college students (age 16-19) and first year University students in order to support a transition to University? Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk Research questions
  6. 6. My Research in context • Select bibliography McKeever, C., Bates, J., and Reilly, J. (2017). School library staff perspectives on teacher information literacy and collaboration. Journal of Information Literacy, 11(2), pp.51–68 Emersom, L., Kilpin, K., Lamond, H. (eds). (2021). Literacy across the divide: Information literacy as the key to student transition. New Zealand: NZCER Press Stebbing, D., Shelley, J., Warnes, M., and McMaster, C. (2018). What academics really think about information literacy. Journal of Information Literacy, 13(1), pp. 21–44. Aston, S. (2017). Nurture through transition. Centre for Higher Education Research, Innovation and Learning (CHERIL), Manchester Metropolitan University Hicks, A. (2020). ‘Negotiating change: Transition as a central concept for information literacy’, Journal of Information Science. doi: 10.1177/0165551520949159 Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  7. 7. Research Methodology • Small qualitative study • Blackpool Sixth Form College • Lancaster University Social Work programme • Interviews and focus groups • Sixth Form College students • Sixth Form college tutors • Second Year Undergraduate students • Social Work University lecturers Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  8. 8. Research Methodology • Semi-structured interviews and focus groups • Focussing on aspects of Library and Information Literacy: Vision, Model and Framework • Critical thinking, independent learning and transition to University Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  9. 9. Research findings and emerging trends Information Literacy: The Information Landscape All groups had a good understanding of the information landscape although Social Work students were less confident in discussing that information landscape “…there’s…lots of literature, in the …social policy world that is produced by pressure groups, lobbying organisations…the kind of teaching I do is…to get students to think…about different alternative discourses and explanations and rhetoric and so to…be able to point to some of the…material round that, I’m thinking for instance of publications that come from the disabled people’s movement for example, that provide critique and alternative views to…policy or certainly government policy…literature…I think is really important” from Interview with University lecturer A Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  10. 10. Research findings and emerging trends Information Literacy: Search and Discover Sixth form students were confident in their ability to find information but they were also aware of the complexity and difficulties involved. “It all kind of depends on what you’re looking for, and the bigger, …the more broad your search is, the more results you’ll get and you’ll have to sift through some of the rubbish ones to actually find what you’re looking for, but the more specific you go and you get less and less, if you go really specific like you search for the answer to a specific question on a test or something, you find that half the time it’s stuff…behind some kind of paywall that you have to get through” from Focus Group with Sixth Form Students Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  11. 11. Research findings and emerging trends Information Literacy: Search and Discover Social Work students were also knowledgeable about obstacles to finding information but were often overwhelmed by them “I use stuff like Research Gate and books sometimes, but for me it’s just like I type in a word and there’s so many things and I really don’t know where I’m starting or finishing and…when I’m at university and we have got resources and sort of we’re told about these things, I still have absolutely no idea what I’m doing” From Focus Group with Social Work Undergraduates Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  12. 12. Research findings and emerging trends Information Literacy: Search and Discover School teachers and University teaching staff both noticed that students’ ability to find information had deteriorated over the last 10 to 15 years “As time has gone on, they’ve actually got worse at finding information, you’d think that the internet…they’ve been brought up [with] now, they’re 16 years old, it’s been with them all their lives, that they would be wizards at finding information, good information on the internet, but it seems to have actually, [gone] …the other way . Where as, at first, say ten, 15 years ago, they’d use the internet to find good sources of information, maybe journals or could find out what books they could get or you know find some really good sites…they’ve become lazy with it, so they just take the first Google result they get and go with that and it’s really difficult” from interview with School Teacher A Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  13. 13. Research findings and emerging trends Information Literacy: Search and Discover “you would expect the younger generation to be more savvy on the internet, but they actually don’t know how to use the internet to search for information. So I’ve received tonnes of emails asking me where to look for something”. From interview with University lecturer C “it’s like they’re almost lost and they don’t know how so they just, whatever the first thing comes out on their search, they take that one. I always struggle to understand why students struggle with the first assignment, which is find an article and review it”. From interview with University lecturer C Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  14. 14. Research findings and emerging trends Information Literacy: Ethics and Integrity, referencing and plagiarism There was a wide understanding and knowledge about referencing and plagiarism from all groups “One of the first things we were told in Sixth Form was we have a plagiarism detector, be aware!” from Focus Group with Sixth Form Students “in the EPQ, you had to reference every single thing that you found out from every single website, so at the end there’s a massive like referencing part where all my references are” from Focus Group with Sixth Form Students
  15. 15. Research findings and emerging trends Information Literacy: Ethics and Integrity, referencing and plagiarism Although there is a disconnect with some students “I can…mark work in the third year, that for some students there is still issues around referencing and you know it’s difficult to know what to do…because…you cannot constantly…talk about the same issues, you can have some reinforcement across the year, but you cannot constantly talk about them because firstly the students will get bored with that, and also of course those students who are able to do it get really pissed off.” From interview with University lecturer A Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  16. 16. Research findings and emerging trends Information Literacy: Teaching Information Literacy Teachers and University lecturers were teaching information literacy explicitly and implicitly • A wide range of literature from the academic landscape was being used • There were activities encouraging students to search for information • To reference that information • To interrogate it and evaluate it • There were discussions about plagiarism • Essays and dissertations are being set which incorporate and test peoples understading of information literacy • And there are extended project qualifications that include all aspects of information literacy For some students there is a disconnect between what is being taught and what is being learned Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  17. 17. Research findings and emerging trends Information Literacy: Gaps in teaching Identify and Plan information need, indentifying keywords and terminology, selecting sources y Manage and Organise note taking, organising files, storing and retrieving information Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  18. 18. Critical Thinking • Sixth Form students and Undergraduate students showed evidence that they understood the basics around evaluating information • Neither groups were drawn to conspiracy theories and could navigate misinformation and disinformation on the internet • They understood the need to approach information with caution regarding trustworthiness of sources, bias, currency and authority • All groups however acknowledged the knottier problem of analysing and interpreting information Research findings and emerging trends Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  19. 19. Research findings and emerging trends Critical Thinking “understanding, being able to evaluate, to interpret, the literature, I think is where many people well many first years struggle and…my…feeling is essentially…the experiences they’ve had before they get to university, we’re dealing with people in the first year you know various academic backgrounds, very kind of traditional kind of A-Level routes or…European type equivalents to A-Level, through to people on access courses and more…vocationally orientated courses, B-Techs and so on, and…I think my feeling would be they have very different experiences.” From interview with University Lecturer A Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  20. 20. Research findings and emerging trends Critical Thinking “I think sometimes it might be the way of working rather than information that’s the problem because I know probably a lot of us what we do is we don’t really know how to make our point, we make our point and then we’re going back to look for something to back it up, and that’s when it becomes hard to locate information, because you don’t actually know what you were looking for to begin with” From Focus Group with Social Work Undergraduates Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  21. 21. Research findings and emerging trends Critical Thinking “…I don’t know what this is but sometimes…I don’t know whether it is confidence, students…don’t feel confident to take someone’s thinking and…use it in a way that’s helpful to develop their own thinking and credit it properly, I still think sometimes students just struggle with that …whole idea. ” From Interview with University Lecturer B Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  22. 22. Research findings and emerging trends Critical Thinking “I don’t think I’m necessarily working on a more academically advanced level, but I do think I’m definitely working differently and in a lot more of an independent way. It’s not as much about just memorising text books, it’s more about actually thinking and changing your brain, instead of memorising words” From Focus Group with Social Work Undergraduates “…kind of looking at different approaches to things, different perspectives, to researching different things, so it definitely helps, not just having like a narrow viewpoint on something, being open-minded, critically analysing something ” From Focus Group with Social Work Undergraduates Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  23. 23. Research findings and emerging trends Critical Thinking “Also statistics. My placement was in an area of like deprivation, and I found it very interesting to be able to look at the statistics in the area and tie it in with the things I was writing about on placement. ” From Focus Group with Social Work Undergraduates “I remember the placement ones more. Like when you’re actively like doing stuff and you’re putting the theory into practice, that I just feel like I remember those bits more, whereas like yeah I just think it’s you see how it’s relevant to the actual Social Work practice you’re doing on placements” From Focus Group with Social Work Undergraduates Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  24. 24. Research findings and emerging trends Transition “I think there are some students that come to university and for whatever reason they seem to be very adept at the…various skills…their ability to search for, to discover, to be able to evaluate, and understand literature, is very good…for some students. For other students, they come with, I think it’s to do with previous experience…they come with much lower levels…of skill or competency in each of those areas, so it is a very variable picture. And…even within…there are lots of different kind of talents and processes really, and it may be that the students are…better at some of those kind of processes compared to others ” From Interview with University Lecturer A Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  25. 25. Research findings and emerging trends Transition “The other thing with me, I haven’t been taught to day to day how to do it but last year I did an EPQ and I learnt a lot of research like methods and skills from that” From Focus Group with Sixth Form Students Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  26. 26. Research findings and emerging trends Transition “…one of our class assignments last year was reflecting on our transition, well on like a transition somewhere, so I wrote mine about transitioning from school to uni, and I feel…I really got an understanding of how reflection can be really beneficial…once I was writing out about it, I got like genuine appreciation for it and I saw that, it can just help you like understand what you’re doing and process it …it was also really helpful and it just really brings everything together.” From Focus Group with Social Work Students Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  27. 27. Research findings and emerging trends Transition “we get quite a lot of students…who are unclear what the…expectations are at university. It’s not all students but we do get quite a large number and obviously I don’t kind of have any problem with that in the first year,…that transition year almost into the second year, but I guess it’s, you know…we..often as a staff group kind of remonstrate about…the lack of preparedness of students…coming to university…giving their previous educational experiences. I guess the issue is, is it the responsibility of schools to prepare students for university or is it really the university’s responsibility to students? From Interview with University Lecturer A “often when problems occur between different agencies and organisations, is when we all expect too much of each other, and it makes me think perhaps we expect too much of schools, colleges, whatever. Perhaps schools and colleges are expecting too much of us in terms of thinking oh well you know they get that stuff at university”Interview with University Lecturer B Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  28. 28. Discussion and Questions Why do undergraduates appear to experience a loss of confidence when going to University? Why does there appear to have been a decline in students’ information literacy skills over the last 10 – 15 years? Why do some students appear to completely disconnect with some aspects of information literacy? How can we improve the communication between schools and universities regarding transition? Twitter: newnham_p Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk
  29. 29. Paul Newnham Faculty Librarian Lancaster University Email: p.newnham@lancaster.ac.uk Twitter: @newnham_p

Editor's Notes

  • •Paul Newnham, Faculty Librarian, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, with specific responsibility for teaching and learning

    •Today I’m going to reflect on a research project which is sponsored by the Institute of Curriculum Enhancement at Lancaster University

    •Focused on Information Literacy and the transition to University Education

    •The project is ongoing so today I am mainly focussing on initial research findings and emerging themes.
  • Sponsorship and support for the research project which has given me the space to conduct the research
    Aims, focus of research, my initial research questions
    My research in context
    Where my research sits in the wider literature
    Methodology
    Initial research findings and emerging themes
    Very interested in creating a discourse around this research,
    so there will be time at the end for questions and discussions
    and also please feel free to tweet me references that you think I might be interested in
    or email me your thoughts and comments
  • Lancaster University have an Institute of Curriculum Enhancement
    Institute for Curriculum Enhancement
     
    Exists to promote the scholarship of learning and teaching, student partnership and collaboration
    It involves the whole university community of people involved in learning and teaching
    both academic and professional services staff
    provides a space for information exchange and effective practice.
    run conferences, including an annual UG conference each year, sharing practice events
    provide support for staff preparing for rewards
     
    In 2021 the Institute set up a fellowship scheme known as the ICE fellowships
     
    https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/institute-for-curriculum-enhancement/ice-fellowships/
    The main aim of the ICE fellowship awards
    engage in progressive and innovative initiatives that improve education and student experience at Lancaster and its partnerships
    beyond this aim there was a lot of flexibility for ICE fellows to shape their own initiatives
    we have ice fellows working on video feedback, workflows for creating Moodle quizzes, assessment literacy, community practice approach to writing development, and a project focused on developing a research culture through research informed teaching at our Leipzig campus
    Time and space for research, some costs avaible for transcription
    Importance of our work in information literacy to be led by empirical research
     
    Support from University and library management team, excellent line manager - Lesley English
    Support and involvement from Lancaster University Social Work Department - Hannah Morgan
    Support from Blackpool Sixth Form College – Helen Crowther
  • The overall aim of the project was to learn more about and understand student needs relating to information literacy during transition to University and to explore how the Library can further support students during this time.
    There were three main areas of focus to my research
    Information literacy
    transition to University education
    critical thinking and independent learning
  • RQ1 What understandings do sixth form students have about what constitutes information literacy?
    RQ2 What information literacy skills do sixth form students have?
    RQ3 What understandings do first year University students have about what constitutes information literacy?
    RQ4 What information literacy skills do first year University students have?
    RQ5 How can the Library influence and enhance teaching information literacy skills and critical thinking at the level of sixth form college students (age 16-19) and first year University students in order to support a transition to University?
  • Here is a sample of some of the work that is being done in this area
    McKeever, Bates and Reilly who focussed on the teaching of information literacy in Northern Ireland schools where they found low levels of collaboration between teachers and librarians.
    Emersom, Kilpin and Lamond’s book on information literacy as the key to student transition the findings from a five year research project in New Zealand
    Stebbing, Shelley and Warnes asking what academics really think about information literacy
    Sam Aston who looked at the challenges that students face in the transition process and the development of an open educational resources
    Alison Hicks study of information literacy and transition through the grounded theory lens of mitigating risk
  • Small qualitative study with staff and students from Blackpool Sixth Form College and staff and students from Lancaster University’s Social Work Department
    DETAIL on Blackpool Sixth Form College
    DETAIL on Social Work Students
    All participants were self-selecting, this may have a bearing on results
    Sixth form students were drawn from both the Upper and Lower Sixth all were studying A Level Psychology but also a wide variety of other A levels between them. The majority of these students were intending to go to University.
    I originally intended to run focus groups with first year undergraduates but this proved difficult switched my focus to 2nd year undergraduates.
    On reflection this was probably a good idea as they had a longer period of transition and more experience to reflect upon.
    *I have interviewed one School Teacher to date who was assistant head for Science and Engineering teaching a mixture of A level and CTech physics and electronics programmes
    Interviewed one Lecturer, one Senior Lecturer and one Teaching Fellow from the Social Work programme which is based in the Sociology department
    who have a wide experience of teaching between them
    module convenors, programme leads and in one case director of studies.
    It is not easy to make a direct comparison between sixth form students at Blackpool sixth form college and Social Work undergraduate students at Lancaster
    One group does not map neatly onto the other group but at the same time the findings are suggestive are certain trends
  • Conducted semi structured interviews and focus groups
    Questions focussed on our Library and Information Literacy Vision Model and Framework
    Directed at different aspects of Information Literacy such as search and discover, manage and organise ethics, and integrity
    I also directed discussion towards critical thinking, independent learning and the expectation or reality of transition
  • Now want to present my findings so far and as I do this I am going to raise some of the emerging trends as I go along which are also points for further discussion or reflection
    Firstly I am going to concentrate on specific aspects of information literacy such as the information landscape, or search and discover, manage and organise
    All 4 groups I spoke too had a good understanding of the information landscape
    Sixth form students for example talked knoweledglby and used a wide range of terms to describe that landscape
    Books , Text books, online text books, library, recommended or subject focused websites, reading lists, information, research, films, Google, Google Drive, Google Classroom, Google Chrome, Google Books, Safari, Firefox, Bing, online library, library website, Social Media Tik Tok, scholarly articles, Wikipedia, indexes, bibliographies, primary sources, secondary sources, BBC, BBC bitesize, Youtube, Govenrnment websites, university websites
    It was clear that University teaching staff were using a wide range of material from that information landscape in their teaching too (refer to quote)
    Social Work students also used many of those terms and phrases that others were using thought out our discussion but they seemed to be less confident in discussing their learning and that wider information landscape
    Confidence is something that I want to flag here and I will come back to later
  • Sixth form students had a good understanding of search and discovery and had developed skills in this area
    Sixth form students also enjoyed researching information
    Sixth form students were confident in their ability to find information and this was backed up by evidence. This did not mean that they always found it easy or took it lightly, they were aware of the complexity and difficulties involved.
    Sixth form students talked knowledgably about obstacles they encountered such as paywalls and finding up to date materials (refer to quote)
  • Social Work Undergraduates were also knowledgeable about obstacles to finding information
    but there was evidence of them being overwhelmed by these obstacles
    especially information overload or being unable to find relevant information (refer to quote)
    lack of confidence, feeling of being overwhelmed
  • School teachers and University teaching staff both noticed that students ability to find information had deteriorated over the last 10 to 15 years (refer to quote)
    Why is this? Is it the effect of the Internet which appears to make information easier to find? Are Universities attracting students with a wider range of abilities? And is this being reflected in their ability to search for information? As one interviewee suggested
  • Both students groups had been taught and had a fair understanding/skills of referencing and were aware of plagiarism
  • Although there is a disconnect with some students (refer to quote)
    Here a University lecturer refers to some students still not understanding referencing in the third year
    Many other factors maybe coming in to play here perhaps things like motivation, ability
  • Little evidence of teaching the elements of information literacy that might come under the headings of Identify and Plan or Manage and organise –
    nothing on information needs for example
    or identifying terminology for searching
    or selecting sources or search tools
    and beyond referencing material correctly there was little being taught around managing and organising information –
    what do you do with information when you find it. Where do you keep it so that is is easily retrievable
    how do you take notes
    where do you store information and how do you organise it in files.
    On these items students appear to be left to their own devices.
  • One strand of information literacy that I have not focused on yet is evaluation, analysis and interpretation of information which I will do now in relation to critical thinking
    I deliberately tried to focus discussion on the idea of critical thinking and this is where a lot of information relating to analysis and interpretation became apparent
    Once again the picture is very mixed
    Both groups sixth form students and undergraduate students showed evidence that they understood the basics around evaluating information
    They were not easily drawn to conspiracy theories and they were aware of and could navigate misinformation and disinformation on the internet
    They understood the need to approach information with caution regarding trushworthiness of sources, bias, currency and authority
    All groups however acknowledged the difficulty of moving on from the idea of evaluation to the knottier problem of analysing and interpreting information and using information as evidence to back up your argument
  • Here we have a University lecturer recognising the difficulty that first year students face (see quote)
  • And similarly here is an undergraduate student echoing that struggle
    This is the chicken and egg situation that many students find themselves in what comes first the opinion or the evidence to back it up?
    One of the most common elements of feedback is not enough evidence to support your argument or opinion
  • •What we also see here as well in relation to critical thinking is another reference to a potential lack of confidence displayed by Undergraduates (see quote)
  • What is also clear however and is interesting is that students relate the idea of critical thinking, analysis and interpretation to the idea of becoming, or transitioning to, an independent learner
    And this is wrapped up with the idea of becoming an independent thinker (refer to quotes)
  • Context and critical thinking also seems important. Here are a couple of student reflections on writing essays whilst on placement
    Difference of opinion here as university lecturer suggests they are unable to
  • The final area of research I wanted to reflect on was the expectation and reality of the transition process
    There is a really mixed picture regarding the information literacy skills students arrive at University with which is accurately captured by this lecturer here
  • I found that students who had done an EPQ or extended project qualification or had attended some form of adult education tended to be slightly better prepared for the transition to University
  • Social Work student could remember some of the early transitional support they received such as the pre arrival to University online tutorial and introductory lecturers
    But it was clear that transition took place over a longer time frame and was an on going process
    This was evidenced in the way that students talked about what they had learned
    Feedback was an important aspect of student ability to transform and transition to higher education
    And particularly for the group of Social Work student I spoke to reflection and reflective activities were important factors in moving learning forward
  • And lastly the final research finding I have here is the disconnect between schools and Universities around the idea of transition
    It becomes really obvious that the responsibility for preparing students for university falls between institutions both schools and universities are doing their best but the two educational systems are not joined up

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