Monday, 25 April 2011

Information Literacy

In the 1980s the term “library skills” was replaced by “information skills”, or “study skills”. These skills included a wide range of skills that were required to complete curriculum related assignments. Late in the 1990s, when I completed post-graduate studies in Teacher-Librarianship, the term “information literacy skills” began to be used, to incorporate the thinking skills that are required to think how and when to use information literacy skills.
Linda Langford (1998) questions whether information literacy is a concept (an idea) or a process (a series of actions). She ponders whether information literacy is “a new literacy, one that is transformed from existing literacies to complement the existing technologies for which the Information Age students must be skilled” (p 2). Langford’s article can be found at:
Of the fourteen definitions that are recorded in my notes, I favour Doyle (1996), who defines information literacy as the “ability to access, evaluate, and use information from a variety of resources, to recognise when information is needed, and to know how to learn” (p 9). I agree with Langford when she concludes that “lifelong learning is more than a lofty ideal; it is the outcome of an information-literate society” (p 14).
Abilock (2007) lists the attributes and characteristics of information literacy, including Student Skills and Strategies, Student Outcomes, and the Curriculum and Teaching Design. Abilock’s article can be found at:
James Herring and Anne-Marie Tarter (2007) report on the PLUS model (Purpose/Planning, Use, Location and Self-evaluation) which was used in a research study to guage the feedback from students in regard to how they use information skills. The students recorded that their confidence increased due to the brainstorming process at the beginning of the research process. The findings of this research are impressive and persuasive and eight recommendations are offered for teacher-librarians and teachers. Like Lyn Hay’s research, which was recorded in The Role of the Teacher-Librarian section of this blog, the study by Herring and Tarter would be useful to share with the principal. The Herring and Tarter article is not available online, but a hardcopy is filed in my subject folder.
From my reading of Langford (1998), Abilock (2004), and Herring (2007), three significant information literacy keywords are:
1. critical thinking process;
2. problem solving behaviours;
3. independent lifelong learning.

Further thoughts and reflections...

My favourite models of Information Literacy are:
The Big 6,
Making a Difference Research Guide,
Researching Together
The State Library of Victoria’s Ergo website can be found at: Ergo’s research guide is similar to The Big 6 model.

All of the information literacy models are very impressive, enabling students to break down the research task into manageable parts. This practice instils confidence when facing the final product of the assignment. Herring's PLUS model has fewer steps.
Students benefit by developing the skills that Doyle depicts as knowing “how to learn" (1994, p. 40). They can find out what they need to know, when they need it. This enables independent lifelong learning to occur.
Two obstacles for teacher librarians in developing Information Literacy:
1. It is difficult to teach Information Literacy lessons as a series, rather than just at the beginning of the research task. To overcome this, I will ask to visit the remaining research lessons.
2. It is difficult to persuade teachers to plan their research lesson with me, so that I can inform them of the print and digital resources that are available. When I look ahead and see research lessons booked into the library, I will approach teachers with my suggestions.
James Herring’s (2006) article directed me to a review of a book that has been edited by two of my professional role models, Dr. Susan La Marca and Mary Manning. Dr. La Marca is currently Head of Library Services at Genezzano College, Kew. Mary Manning has recently retired after sixteen years as Executive Officer of the School Library Association of Victoria, of which I Co-convene the Southern Metropolitan Branch.  Herring has provided an informative review of a book that has been edited by these inspiring leaders in teacher-librarianship. The book was published in 2004 and is entitled Reality Bytes: information literacy for independent learning. Herring suggests that all schools should possess a copy.
Herring reports on a study that was carried out in Ripon Grammar School, in Yorkshire, using year 8 students as they embarked on a physics project. His PLUS model was used by the students and was found to improve student outcomes by providing a metacognitive approach to their own learning, by helping students to reflect on their thinking during the research process.
Herring’s article can be found at:
Wolf’s article can be found at:

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