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Investigating the perceived value of information literacy skills for social workers. Hunt


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Presented at LILAC 2009

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Investigating the perceived value of information literacy skills for social workers. Hunt

  1. 1. Investigating the perceived value of information literacy skills for social workers Clarissa Hunt, LILAC 1st April 2009
  2. 2. Outline • Background to Social Work degree in OU • How we sold Information Literacy to the Social Work team • How skills are developed through the course • Survey details of 1st & 3rd level practice-based courses • Quantitative data • Qualitative data • Conclusions
  3. 3. Background • OU previously offered a Social Work Diploma • Care Councils decided that all new social workers must be qualified to a minimum of graduate level –England from 2003 –Scotland and Wales from 2004 • First 346 OU Social Work Degree graduates in 2008
  4. 4. Information Literacy & Social Work • QAA Benchmark statement for social work • National Occupational Standards • OU Learning & Teaching Strategy – develop independent learners • CoBE levels framework
  5. 5. Format of Social Work degree at The Open University • Requires you to be working in social care & sponsored by your employer • Scottish, English & Welsh versions of degree • 5 compulsory courses: –introduction to health & social care (1st level) –introduction to the law in this area (2nd level) –3 practice learning courses (1st , 2nd & 3rd level)
  6. 6. Skills development Informatio n Skill Level 1 (K113) Level 2 (K216) Level 3 (K315) Plan and carry out a search for information using the most appropriate sources Introduction to searching important social work database, Social Care Online. Students follow a sample search with extensive use of screen shots to guide Students searching skills are developed using a different database. Boolean operators, truncation, wildcards, search strings and Students identify their own topic. More advanced functionality of databases is investigated using Web of Science as an example.
  7. 7. Skills development (2) Informati on Skill Level 1 (K113) Level 2 (K216) Level 3 (K315) Organise informatio n so that it can be retrieved and presented Introduction to the systems available for organising information. Extensive use of screen shots is used to guide students. Students are introduced to more of the functionalit y of RefWorks. No use of screen shots. Students are encouraged to reflect on the different tools and electronic resources they have used through the programme, to identify those that will still be available to them in their practice and to transfer information from tools that will no longer be available
  8. 8. Survey details • Project to evaluate ICT & IL in the 1st level practice learning course. –80 responses out of 357 students (22% response) • Also, evaluation activity in the 3rd level practice learning course to look at development of ICT & IL skills –50 responses out of 418 students (12% response) • Both surveys carried out with 2008 cohort of students for each course –Means student groups for the two surveys are different
  9. 9. Compare quantitative data 1st level course 3rd level course I could see the benefit to having IL integrated within the course 60% agree or strongly agree 63% agree or strongly agree IL brings added value to the practice of social work 62% agree or strongly agree 78% agree or strongly agree • Improved slightly from 1st level to 3rd level, but due to small samples is not necessarily significant
  10. 10. Qualitative data 1st level • “I didn't find the Information Literacy useful as I don't use spreadsheets within my work.” (K113 student) • Not all comments were that useful, but did show confusion between IL & ICT • 21 out of 80 comments were about IL
  11. 11. Qualitative data 1st level (2) • “Access to the internet to research information to assist service users. ” • “I learnt most in relation to creating a database and online research, and although I have not yet used them in my practice, I certainly will make use of it in the future.” • Fairly basic integration of IL into practice • NB Only Welsh students are actually required to do any practice as part of 1st level course
  12. 12. Qualitative data 1st level (3) • “I think learning how to search for online reports and documents has been helpful.” • “I was able to identify quality information by understanding the source of the information I was reading.” • General comments re IL are about searching for information online • Little reflective evidence of value or of benefit to service users
  13. 13. Qualitative data 3rd level • Many comments showing evidence-based practice and real-world application of the skills and how they were of value and benefitted the service users. • “i am able to carry out research on particular aspect of my practice, which i can use for evidence when presenting facts to the service user.” • “the benefits to the service user come when good research is used to understand thier issues and to assist in making informed decisions.” • “By being able to research on line was in th eend a benefit to service users because it enabled me to provide a better, more holistic evidence based service.” • “it helped me to make a more informed decesion.” • “evidence enabled me to work more effectively with a service user.”
  14. 14. Conclusions • Feedback really demonstrated the value of IL to students for evidence-based practice • Their understanding of the importance of evidence- based practice improved over their study of the degree • The students didn’t always appreciate the differences between information literacy and information and computing technology • Format of questions asking for feedback on IL or ICT meant the data was not comprehensive, but still very interesting
  15. 15. Library and Learning Resources Centre The Open University Walton Hall Milton Keynes MK7 6AA