Discussion and Recommendations – Stage 2

As higher research students these students present with varying degrees of information literacy skills. Factors such as previous information literacy education, background and age mean that not all doctoral students may necessarily have the research skills essential to complete their dissertations. These students need to be well prepared to adjust and “keep up with the rapidly changing library services and resources in the 21st century” (Tunon & Ramirez, 2010, p.993).

When evaluating their responses against the Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Standards (Bundy, 2004, p.11) the students all recognised their ability to ascertain their information needs as well developed but stated that the areas of critically evaluating, finding relevant information, analysing and gaining new knowledge and managing sources were the key areas of concern. These capabilities can be identified as the Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) in Blooms’ Revised Taxonomy. In the three psychological domains proposed by Bloom these skills belonged to the cognitive domain comprising Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation (Churches, 2009, p.3). These students have already decided on their topic and have chosen an appropriate area of research.  In Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP) model they can be situated in the collection stage having already selected and identified their focus and are now searching for information to support their research (2007, p.18). The affective context of the ISP model places the students at a confident and focussed stage and this was confirmed by my observation of them throughout the workshops. Whilst Kuhlthau’s ISP model does not discuss the management of data other models do. Jamie McKenzie’s, The Research Cycle, discusses the need for strategies for managing information. Identifying the important and relevant sources in the ‘sorting and sifting stage’ is assisted if students have good management strategies as this enhances the ability to sort “’signals’ (information that illuminates) over ‘noise’ (information that befuddles)” (McKenzie, 2000, planning para.).

In these workshops effective search techniques and strategies were demonstrated before the students practiced them. As these students had different levels of information literacy skill some required more assistance than others. The citation searching exercise required the most guidance and help from the facilitator. Many of the inquiry learning models discuss the need for intervention or ‘scaffolding’. Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy (2009, p.9) notes that scaffolding is essential to provide the foundations of learning and support the constructivist process.

In Lupton and Bruce’s’ GeST model (2010, p.4) the students’ abilities can be associated with all three perspectives. They all exhibit the behavioural or generic skills necessary to perform as higher research students such as using information technology to locate relevant information. In the situated literacies these students participate in a variety of scenarios. When describing her topic one student explained that she “produced toolkits, designed and implemented workshops and participated in conferences” thus demonstrating a variety of situated literacies in her professional life. The transformative perspective is represented in their academic studies. Another student’s topic dealt with the psychological issues pertaining to paramedics. The situated and  transformative view of information literacy “empowers students to be active designers – makers of social futures” (Cope & Kalantzis as cited by Lupton & Bruce, 2010, p.22). As doctoral candidates these students will be writing a thesis that will evaluate current research and formulate new discussion in their chosen discipline.

In today’s society digital literacy is essential for any higher degree student. These students digital capabilities were for the most part well developed as you would expect of students at this stage of their academic studies. According to the Digital Information Fluency model (2011, para. 1) “digital information fluency is the ability to find, evaluate and use digital information effectively, efficiently and ethically”.  Models such Callison’s ‘Information Inquiry’ (2006, p.15) and Eisenberg’s Information Literacy Model, the Big6 (2012, Evaluation para.) acknowledge the significance of the integration of information technology skills and information literacy skills. With internet searching the ability to critically evaluate sources has become paramount as standard editorial evaluation of sources no longer applies.  As Grafstein  (2007, p.60) points out,  students require higher order thinking skills to evaluate information. It is noteworthy that the students who participated in this workshop also identified this as an issue. As pointed out by Lupton in the Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework students need to be able to use and adapt to new information communication technologies but it is the ability to critically evaluate information that defines legitimate information literacy skills.  “Information literacy initiates, sustains, and extends lifelong learning through abilities that may use technologies but are ultimately independent of them” (2004, p.4). In one of the models delivered in this program networking sites are discussed and demonstrated to the students. I did not include a question about this in my surveys as it is not a hands-on activity. However I observed that all of the students took notes and questioned the facilitator extensively. In this globally digital world the ability to network with other researchers in a specific discipline, sharing knowledge and discussion is of great value. Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy (2009, p.10) situates this as a Lower Order Thinking Skill, the ability to retrieve or remember important skills to “maintain all of the current relevant knowledge for their learning”.

Assessment of this learning activity adds value as it reinforces the learning content for the students and enables the facilitator to assess the success of the program.  According to Harada and Yoshina (as cited by Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Casperi, 2004, p.111) it is critical as it serves as a tool to assist the students to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Assessment acts as a form of reflection allowing the student the opportunity to reflect and evaluate upon what they have learned. Many information literacy models and inquiry based models, such as the Alberta Inquiry Model (2004, p.10)  discuss the importance of evaluation to enable students to transfer knowledge to new situations.

Recommendations

  • I would recommend that the workshops be redesigned to be more discipline specific which would enable the facilitator to tailor the content more appropriately. At times throughout I had to help the students select more appropriate databases and then assist them with the functionality of the search page. For some disciplines a multidisciplinary database may provide results but the students will be more successful if they are directed to subject specific databases.
  • More staff to assist in these workshops would be beneficial. The disparity in skills that the students present with can make it difficult for the facilitator to provide them with the necessary assistance. My presence throughout these workshops greatly assisted. The facilitator who ran the program commented that it can be difficult to stay on track and deliver all of the content because some of the students require extensive assistance. This could be caused by language barriers in the case of International students or lack of technological capabilities with mature students.
  • I would recommend that all students who enroll in the program be contacted by their liaison librarian to provide them with an overview of the library webpage, catalogue, databases and services. Familiarising students with the catalogue and databases prior to commencement of the program would deliver better outcomes for the students.
  • That the period for submission of assessment be reduced from six to one month after completion of the course. It was commented by the facilitator that many students are very slow in submitting their assessments. Completing the assessment closer to the program will result in better retention for the students.

This content and delivery of this program is modeled on traditional library instruction classes; a combination of lectures, demonstrations and time to practice. In the truest sense this is a modified guided inquiry activity.  Most of these students demonstrated well developed information literacy skills as would be expected at this stage of their studies. Bearing in mind the amount of content that needs to be delivered and the cognitive skills of these students the delivery and content is appropriate and this is supported by the results and data analysis of this information learning activity.

References

Alberta Inquiry Model (2004). Focus On Inquiry: A teachers guide to implementing Inquiry-based learning. Retrieved from http://ia701206.us.archive.org/20/items/focusoninquirylearn04albe/focusoninquirylearn04albe.pdf

Bundy,. A. (Ed.). (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Standards. Retrieved from Queensland University of Technology Course Materials Database.

Callison, D. (2006). The blue book on information age inquiry, instruction and literacy. Retrieved from Queensland University of Technology Course Materials Database

Churches, A. (2009).  Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. Retrieved from http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/#Bloom%27s%20Taxonomy

Eisenberg, M.  (2012). Big6 Skills Overview.  Retrieved  from http://big6.com/pages/about/big6- skills-overview.php

Grafstien, A. (2007). Information literacy and technology: an examination of some issues.  Portal: Libraries and the Academy.  7(1), 51-64. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/docview/216168492http://search.proquest.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/docview/216168492

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L.K. & Caspari (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century. Westport CT: Libraries Inc.

Lupton, M. & Bruce, C. (2010). Windows on Information Literacy Worlds: Generic, Situated and Transformative Perspectives. In A. LLoyed & S. Talja (Eds.), Practising information literacy: Bringing theories and information literacy together. (pp.3 – 27). Retrieved from Queensland University of Technology Course Material Database.

McKenzie, J. (2000). The Research Cycle. Retrieved from http://www.fno.org/dec99/rcycle.html

Tunon, J. & Ramirez L. (2010) ABD or EdD? A Model of Library Training for Distance Doctoral Students. Journal of Library Administration. 50:7-8, 989-996. doi:10.1080/01930826.2010.489004

21st Century Information Fluency (2011). Digital Information Fluency Model. 21st Century Information Fluency  Retrieved from http://blackboard.qut.edu.au/webapps/blackboard/content/contentWrapper.jsp?content_id=_4297582_1 displayName=Come+to+the+tutorial+ready+to+describe+this+model&course_id=_84672_1&navItem=content&href=http%3A%2F%2F21cif.com%2Fresources%2Fdifcore%2Findex.html

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2 thoughts on “Discussion and Recommendations – Stage 2

  1. What an interesting ILA and a good way to start a doctorate course. You have demonstrated a clear understanding of the inquiry models used for the ILA, especially Kuhlthau’s ISP process. I like the way you clearly pin point the stage in the process where students began their research. It was also interesting to note that even at this level of tertiary study, students still had areas of concern in the information process. This demonstrates a clear desire to start their study with a solid set of skills that will carry them through their doctorate course. Like you, my ILA was based on university students and there are many models, or aspects of models, that are appropriate for tertiary courses. I too found that all stages of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy were appropriate for the research task. I even included Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy as certain stages of that model were appropriate also. The Big6 is an excellent inquiry model as it not only provides for higher order thinking skills such as synthesis and evaluation, but also the more practical stages of information seeking strategies, location and use of information. The Big6 overview states that this inquiry model ‘helps students develop the skills and understandings they need to find, process, and use information effectively’ (big6.com), whether they are kindergarten or tertiary students.

    I agree with all the recommendations made, especially one and two. Introducing students to subject specific databases is an excellent idea. I know that I spent a great deal of time looking through articles that had no bearing on the topic I was studying, and that shouldn’t be happening at the postgraduate level. Going straight to the most appropriate database will save students time by narrowing the field quite considerably and even giving them access to articles that they may not have located in a normal search. In order for students to find the needle in the haystack they need to be looking in the right haystack to begin with. Providing more than one facilitator makes perfect sense, especially at this high level of tertiary study. In the description of the ILA, you state that the program has twenty students all studying different disciplines and even speaking different languages. One facilitator could not possibly provide the required one-on-one instruction that would be needed for this level of study, especially if students are entering the program with areas of concern. An extra facilitator would also help ease the load and provide these students with the skills they need to embark on their doctoral study.

  2. Hi Amanda

    I liked your reference to Jamie McKenzie’s, The Research Cycle, as this was not one of the models I used. It fits well with your cohort of learners, especially the information management element of research.

    In your analysis post you mentioned that you felt the method of administration (a combination of lectures, demonstrations and hands on practice) would not be entirely effective. It would be interesting to hear your view on how you would change this to maximise the effectiveness of the learning activity.

    Katie

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