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Innovating Information Literacy Instruction: Listening to the Voices of Below-Proficient Students

Innovating Information Literacy Instruction: Listening to the Voices of Below-Proficient Students

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Innovating Information Literacy Instruction: Listening to the Voices of Below-Proficient Students

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  1. Innovating Information Literacy Instruction: Listening to the Voices of Below-Proficient Students Don Latham & Melissa Gross School of Library & Information Studies

  2. Overview • Background • Attaining Information Literacy Project • Theoretical interests • Research problem & design • Conceptions of below-proficient students • Students’ preferences for instruction • Instructional intervention

  3. Background • Information literacy (IL) is considered an important skill set: • Information Power (AASL/AECT, 1998) & Standards for the 21st-Century Learner (AASL, 2007) • IL Competency Standards for Higher Education (ACRL, 2000) • IL appears in the standards of many college accrediting agencies (Foster, 2007; Saunders, 2007) • Yet research indicates that students often come to college with below-proficient IL skill levels (Foster, 2006; Gross 2005; Gross & Latham, 2007; Peter D. Hart Research Associates, 2005).

  4. Background (cont.) • Community colleges face particular challenges: • Because of open admissions policies, community college students come from a wide range of backgrounds in terms of academic preparation. • Approximately 50% are the first in their families to attend college (Boswell & Wilson, 2004). • Over 40% enroll in remedial education courses (Boswell & Wilson, 2004). • Most community colleges experience low rates of retention and transfer (Jacobson, 2005).

  5. Attaining Information Literacy Project • Three-year National Leadership Research Grant, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) • Focuses on first-year students at two Florida community colleges • Goals: • To identify the characteristics of students with below-proficient IL skills • To develop an effective intervention (i.e., instruction) for those students

  6. Theoretical Interests • Dunning-Kruger Effect (Kruger &Dunning, 1999) • Miscalibration between self-views and ability in subjects who test as incompetent in a domain • Replication of these studies in the domain of IL demonstrates same miscalibration (Gross & Latham, 2007) • Imposed query model (Gross, 1995) • Relational view of information literacy (Bruce, 1997)

  7. Research Problem • Is the miscalibration between self-views and ability demonstrated among below proficient students the result of a lack of metacognitive skills as Kruger and Dunning (1999) suggest? OR • Is the perceived miscalibration a result of differing views of what information literacy is?

  8. Why Do We Care? • Individuals who think they have skills that they really don’t • Are unlikely to seek help or remediation for these skills • Are unlikely to recognize this skill set in others (librarians) • Are handicapped in their ability to find, evaluate, and use information effectively • Understanding below-proficient individuals will • Allow for the development of efficacious programs, services, and educational interventions • Inform research, theory, and educational policy

  9. Research Design • 387 students were recruited to take the Information Literacy Test (ILT), a computer-based, multiple-choice test developed at James Madison University (JMU, n.d.). • 57 students with below-proficient IL skills participated in semi-structured interviews about their information-seeking experiences and their perceptions of IL. • 64 students with below-proficient IL skills participated in six focus groups about their information-seeking experiences, their perceptions of IL, and their preferences for learning new skills and knowledge. • Criteria for the intervention were developed. • The intervention was piloted. • It will be delivered in early spring 2011 at the two community colleges. There will be experimental and control groups at both sites.

  10. Demographics • First-year community college students • Most were 18-20 years old • Wide variety of majors represented • Diverse group in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender

  11. Students’ Conceptions of Information, Information Seeking, & Information Literacy Results from interviews

  12. Student Perceptions of Information

  13. Finding Information Conception • Think of information as a product, not a process. • Believe there is not much to know regarding how to find, evaluate, and use information. • Claim that people learn how to find information on their own (mainly self-taught). • Display a lot of confidence in their information-seeking skills. • Believe that evaluation of ability should be at the individual level; information is subjective, not objective. • There is no differentiation between imposed and self-generated information seeking in this category.

  14. Finding Information Conception (cont.) • Can not identify an information skill they wished to learn or improve. • Cite instructors (rather than librarians) as being helpful in learning academic databases. • Are uncertain about their library skills, but don’t think these are skills they need. • Those who had library time in K-12 report this took place in elementary school and this time was spent on Accelerated Reader, not library skills.

  15. Information Technology Conception • Technology is seen as the primary way to engage with information. • Internet is a primary source for both self-generated and imposed situations. • Information seeking begins with a search engine, unless academic resources or library use are required by the instructor. • Students prefer visual materials.

  16. Information Technology ConceptionImposed vs. Self-Generated Imposed, constrained Self-Generated, open Information seeking is self-directed Need or curiosity driven Variety of source types possible Fewer sources consulted Fewer time constraints Information use less “product” oriented • Information seeking is structured by assignment • Limitation of topic • Types of resources • Number of resources • Due dates • Information use product oriented

  17. Information People Conception • People are seen as a primary way to engage with information • People as information sources can serve as • informants, • agents, or • trainers • People are seen as important information sources for both imposed and self-generated information seeking

  18. Information People Conception (cont.) • Below proficient students mainly use people as informants. • Below proficient students are less interested in being the “ one who knows.” • Below proficient students spend less time online and with computers than we expected.

  19. Information Quality Conception • Information quality is considered important, but not a big concern. • Information is seen as “good enough.” • The need for information quality varies with the information need.

  20. Information Quality ConceptionImposed vs. Self-Generated Imposed, constrained Self-Generated, open Free to decide whether to worry about information quality or not Information accepted at face value Opinion and experience are valued, not just facts • Quality of information considered • Based on teacher expectations • Need to earn best possible grade • Academic resources are already vetted

  21. Summary of Characteristics • IL is not viewed as an objective set of skills. • Technology and people are the primary ways students engage with information. • Students know information quality is an issue, but are not greatly concerned about the consequences of “bad” information. • Imposed and self-generated contexts are seen as presenting different conditions for finding, evaluating, and using information. • Students are confident about their information skills.

  22. Students’ Preferences for Instruction Results from focus groups

  23. Perceptions of Effective Instruction • Teaching techniques • Opportunity to practice new skills (29.2%) • Demonstration (16.9%) • Real-life examples (13.8%) • Visual aids (13.8%) • Handouts (9.2%) • Interaction (13.8%) • Opportunity to ask questions (6.2%) • Group work (6.2%)

  24. Perceptions of Effective Instruction (cont.) • Instructor personality • Sense of humor (7.7%) • Enthusiasm for the material (6.2%) • Caring attitude (3.1%) • Respect for student opinion (3.1%) • Willingness to help (3.1%)

  25. Preferences for Ways of Learning New Material • Small class (40.0%) • Personal tutorial (12.9%) • Combination of small class & personal tutorial (23.1%) • Online instruction (9.2%)

  26. Perceptions of What Would Motivate Students To Attend IL Instruction • If they needed the skills (15.4%) • If it was required (4.6%) • If it offered rewards • Food (7.7%) • College credit (7.7%) • If the class offered personal benefit (4.6%)

  27. Perceptions of Motivation To Attend (cont.) • If instructor had a good reputation (10.8%) • If the class was known as a fun class (6.2%) • If the class was relatively short (6.2%) • If it was held at different times (4.6%) • If it held in different locations (4.6%)

  28. Summary of Preferences • Students like small classes, group work, and opportunities to practice. • How can librarians design learning experiences that employ these various strategies? • They don’t like lecture or online instruction. • Have librarians, perhaps, made incorrect assumptions about students’ affinity for technology? • They need some sort of motivation to attend IL instruction. • How can librarians work with faculty and administrators to provide the incentives students need?

  29. Instructional Intervention Listening to the voices of below-proficient students

  30. Using an Evidence-Based Approach • Objective measure of information literacy skills—using the ILT; we know we’ve identified below-proficient students. • Based on data gathered from interviews and focus groups with below-proficient students. • Reality based • Most librarians are given the “one-shot” workshop with which to work. • Can’t do everything in one hour. • Every situation is a bit different; need for flexibility.

  31. Focusing on Students’ Perceptions & Conceptions • Students greatly over-estimate their IL skill levels. • They don’t see IL as a discrete set of skills. • They are more product than process focused. • They prefer the Internet & people as sources.

  32. Questioning Assumptions about “Millennials” &Their Abilities • Students have an expectation that they (and people of their generation) are good at this. • Students’ ILT scores suggest that many of them lack IL proficiency. • Students do prefer Internet sources, but many report spending less time online than we might think (especially students in rural areas). • They find databases challenging. • They express a distaste for online instruction.

  33. Developing Instruction That Is Student Centered Students prefer: • Face-to-face instruction • Demonstration • Opportunity for hands-on practice • Opportunity to learn from/with other students • Feedback • Support materials (such as handouts)

  34. Challenges in IL Instruction • Motivation • Students think they already have these skills. • They may not see the wider application of these skills to their lives. • They may see these skills as related only to a particular assignment in a particular class (imposed). • Time • Typically, librarians have only one hour. • You can’t cover everything in a single session—yet you may not get another chance!

  35. Goals for Instruction in AIL Project • Change students’ conception of skills required to find, evaluate, and use information. • Change their conception of personal ability to find, evaluate, and use information. • Teach one skill that they can readily use that will improve both self-generated and imposed task outcomes.

  36. Key Features of Instructional Intervention • Focused on self-generated information seeking, rather than imposed. • Students work in pairs (in a computer lab, two students per computer). • Focused on a limited set of skills/activities: • Analyzing the topic • Searching for information • Evaluating information

  37. Key Features (cont.) • Opportunity for students to share results—with one another and the instructor—and to get feedback. • Handout & online supporting materials available. • Opportunity for students to self-assess before and after instruction.

  38. Looking Ahead • Instructional intervention will be delivered in the spring. • Evaluation will occur after that. • Future project (?) • Develop additional instructional modules. • Train the trainers across the state (college & high school librarians). • Follow-up training with site visits and interviews.

  39. Acknowledgements We would like to thank: • IMLS for providing funding for the project. • Our two community college partners, and especially the librarians who are working with us on the project. • Our graduate research assistants: William Woodley, Debi Carruth, and Meredith Mills.

  40. Thank You • Questions? Comments? • Contact us: Don Latham Melissa Gross • AIL Project website: