Thursday, February 13, 2014

Next Journal club: 19th February: research agendas for information literacy? #ILread

Our next blog-post discussion will take place on Wednesday 19th February at 8pm UK time (See http://tinyurl.com/qd9vkbu for times elsewhere). The focus is on the agenda(s) for information literacy research. For example:

What do you think of the research agendas that other people have drawn up? (see below)
What do you think are the top priorities for research in Information Literacy?

How does this discussion work? As usual, the idea is that people aim to read something (see below) before the discussion . Then just come along at 8pm on the 19th, and join in the discussion, through posting comments to this blog post. Of course lurkers are also welcome, but it will nice if you join in ;-) You can see how this works by looking at previous discussions (just scroll down the blog for previous posts).

Most of the time there will be a slight delay between people posting a comment on this blog, and it appearing. However, earlier on the day of the discussion we will turn moderation off, so posts appear immediately.

Reading to start the discussion going.
I've chosen three short documents produced from different perspectives: one paper from two of the top international researchers (Annemaree Lloyd and Christine Bruce), one from a medical librarian perspective, and one is drawn up by the (US) Association of College and Research Libraries. They are all on open access:
The journal club team hope you can join us to discuss this fascinating topic. If you have any questions, but them in the comments below or (if it's urgent) email me at s.webber@sheffield.ac.uk
[Picture taken by me in Second Life, using a quote from an academic in an information literacy research project]

38 comments:

  1. Discussion starts in 15 minutes! Just a reminder of the usual tips

    - Refresh the page often, to see the latest conversations

    - Use the "reply" link to reply to a particular comment, or use the "post a comment" box to start a new idea or question.

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    1. Thanks for organising Sheila! I'm afraid I didn't get to read anything this month but hope to chip in as I can

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    2. No worries ;-) Do you have any kind of "wish list" that you think information literacy researchers ought to be researching?

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    3. Well (as you know) I'm interested in information literacy at the transition to university - before any third level instruction has started. I'm also interested in the differences between subject areas, especially in terms of timing of instruction, so things we would have taught 1st year students in my last job would be a waste of effort at that point in my current job (much more relevant to third years)!

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    4. People have studied these things, but getting the time to read enough while working is tough, need to make more time for it.

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    5. One problem is identifying (or, remembering) the relevant existing research too - there is actually more on transition now - and of course a great deal on transition and the First Year Experience generally (some of which is relevant to IL too).

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    6. Funny you mention timing Niamh as I have been looking at the 'best' teachable moment for undergrads. This conflicts a little with my belief and point-of-need support, and how individuals all require support at different times (as they are individuals after all, and not homogeneous robots! :)). However, the need to 'scale up' support sometimes means some generalisations are required e.g. right now I feel second year is the key time to reach (many, even if not all) undergrads.

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    7. Hi Sheila, I'm swanning in having seen your email and not read the papers... and also I think others have made the point I'd make: I'd like to see IL research focus less on information seeking and more on other aspects of infomation practices.

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    8. Hi Marshall! And you have interests in health literacy too?

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    9. Hi Sheila, yes, I guess I do, along with other 'real life' contexts where information can be very complex and where evaluation, assimilation and application can be difficult. The referendum about Scotland's independence, for example!

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    10. Yes, independence seems to be a classic case of politicians etc. saying "it's all on the website" but you need a great deal of information literacy to find your way round all the websites with their competing perspectives on whether Scotland should vote for independence or not.

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    11. For me, there's nothing quite so alarm-bell-ringing as the fact that a statement is emerging from a politician or policy-maker with an interest in the outcome :-) But what's fascinating about this debate is the wide range of types of knowledge that seems to be required to make an informed decision (economic, legal, natural resources, public administration etc) and the amount of speculation that the politicians seem to be engaging in...or at least it seems like speculation to me, as a non-expert on matters such as monetary union, EU status, oil revenues and so on.

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  2. Hello, I hope there are people out there eager to talk about information literacy research ;-)
    Since part of my job is research, and I supervise students doing research, this is obviously very interesting to me. I thought it was also interesting how people in different sectors etc. produce rather different lists of "what we should be researching in IL"

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    1. Hello Sheila , I tend to agree with you. It is interesting that what concerns information literacy researchers and research students is often very different to the concerns of information literacy practitioners.

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    2. Welcome Annemaree! Yes, a couple of my students did a Delphi study of (mainly librarians) a few years back, about research priorities, and the top concerns were rather like those mentioned in the medical sector article

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    3. Whereas, my interests coincide more with the ones that you and Christine describe

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    4. I agree that the Lloyd/Bruce document and the ACRL document are clearly written by and for different audiences (scholar researchers vs. practitioner researchers). My question is whether this is a disconnect that needs to be bridged to advance IL as an issue, or whether this is a "natural" state of affairs seen in other professions and not an obstacle at all . . .

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    5. Hi Sheila,
      I think our research interests are influenced by a number of things, one of the most important being how we understand or perceive information literacy.

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    6. @Cara personally I think it IS a "natural" state of affairs, you can look at the different backgrounds, motivations etc. and I think also there are different interests in (say) the USA and the UK/Australia (because of differences in education etc.). On the other hand, I'm a strong believer in connecting research and practice (which requires effort on both sides, I think...)

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  3. I was struck by the comment in the JMLA article "why...do we still have so little evidence of what makes instruction effective?". I think measurement and assessment will continue to be a major theme going forward. But perhaps some of the discussion may also migrate towards measuring information literacy (both levels of students and the effectiveness of instruction) in the context of online delivery including MOOCs.

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    1. Hello Michelle,
      I often wonder what we are measuring- should we change our language and say we are measuring for evidence or impact of information skills rather than information literacy? Here again we run in the issue of definition and perspective.

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    2. I suppose I have a problem with using the word "measure" with learning - although I have just been doing marking where of course I do give 65 to this person and 55 to that person... on the other hand (and this was an information literacy assignment) I would say that the mark is measuring how they were able to, or chose to, or were enabled to, respond to that assignment, it's not an absolute measure of their information literacy.
      In terms of making teaching & learning effective, there is a good deal of educational research, not on teaching IL, but still I think it's relevant.
      and yes MOOCs are an interesting new challenge, with the focus on learning analytics (sorry bit of a hotchpotch response there)

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    3. Thanks Annemaree - good point. I guess skills may be easy to measure than literacy?

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    4. Hi Sheila - yes I agree about the difficulties in measuring learning, but I use 'measure' in its broadest sense - e.g. could be qualitative / reflective data from a student learning journal / blog etc. - anything that can convey development and progression in terms of information usage. I'm not a fan of a lot of pre/post test and Project SAILS type measures, so I suppose I am interested in alternative approaches which may help demonstrate the value of the library's role in IL in a holistic way.

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  4. Hi there Sheila and Annemaree. Absolutely agree that our perspective on what is important to research will depend on our roles. For me, the most important area of research not yet addressed would be the "So what?" i.e. measuring the impact of our efforts in information literacy. In what ways do those with improved information literacy better meet their goals? In the ACRL document, with their higher education perspective, it is phrased as "How do library instruction and library usage impact academic success?".

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    1. Cathie, I share your interest in the "so what." Not only it is essential in my personal motivation for carrying on my day-to-day work, I think that addressing the "so what" is integral to increasing interest and engagement in IL outside of the library sector.

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    2. I think it's a good idea to take the "so what" beyond academic success, when engaging with students. Being information literate can have an impact on how they perform in the workplace, take care of their own health, look out for the welfare of others.

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  5. I agree, Sheila. But what is the research evidence to prove this impact, to those beyond the library sector?

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  6. I've been typing and deleting on this one. One thing I do think is that when it comes to bigger decision making, well you will know this, it isn't necessarily evidence, it's policy issues, or personality, or trends that may have more weight. I think it would be worthwhile lobbying around the UNESCO MIL recommendations for example, even though it may seem remote from higher ed, as it could be that some government policy to be seen to be doing something about IL could have more effect than a number of research studies

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    1. Hi Sheila. Yes, you will be aware how useful I've found the UNESCO recommendations and linking to policy issues etc. As we are specifically thinking about the research agenda tonight, I'm just highlighting again how useful it would be to have further evidence of how IL does really help with employability, lifelong learning, health and wellbeing etc (and of course, academic success too :) ) The lack of research may come down to the difficulty in truly measuring impact, but it's definitely worth exploring further.

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    2. Possibly it could be easier to start with the health information literacy part, where the life/death impact is more striking

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  7. Actually, although I'm not a quantitative-focused person, to get some simplistic evidence MOOCs could be useful. I heard a presentation from one of the first Futurelearn MOOCs, they's put in some learning-to-learn stuff at the start of the module, and it seemed that doing thse parts correlated with a greater likelihood of doing the next steps in the MOOC

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  8. Developing a national portfolio of difference kinds of evidence .. quantitative studies, qualitative ones which tend to also produce the sort of human interest stories and quotes that can "hook" people who don't respond to numbers..

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    1. National portfolio . . . I like that.

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    2. The Welsh Information Literacy Project developed a wide range of human interest stories at the start of their project http://welshlibraries.org/skills/information-literacy/case-studies/ They were very effective in highlighting the links with government policy.

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    3. Yes, those were excellent.
      It's keeping a research portfolio up to date and accessible as well, rather than just becoming another dull research site. Shouldn't be impossible, though.

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  9. It is 9pm in the UK now, so thanks everyone for your comments - particularly to Annemaree, since it must be argh o'clock in Australia. Feel free to continue to add comments.

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