It’s an exciting time for our Information literacy spaces team as we plan for this year’s research. We are liaising with our schools and tertiary institutions, have navigated our way through the human ethics approval process (still waiting on confirmation), and we are designing the national survey on information literacy. It’s been important to look at the skill sets we have and consider who else we need to bring into the project. We recently met with representatives of the National Library who are keen to be part of the process, and we’re hoping to bring the people from this blog community into our work.
In this blog post, I want to tell you a little more about the project itself so you can see how it might relate to your own work. It’s a big, complex piece of research, so I’ll just confine myself to the bare bones, so you have a clear understanding of where we’re going.
The overall goal of our study is to improve students’ information literacy competencies in the senior secondary school (Years 12-13) and the first two years of tertiary education. We have just three years to achieve this! We are working with 6-8 schools and 5 tertiary institutions to achieve change that can then be rolled out more broadly in secondary and tertiary education.
The role of the library is central to our study. Libraries and librarians have worked hard in recent years to change the role and function of the library. But teachers’ understanding of the potential of the library may not have changed. This is why we talk about the library as a “hidden gem” – a resource hidden in plain sight. Our hope is that, through this project, we will change the way the library, and librarians, are perceived, and demonstrate how they can be more fully integrated into the teaching and learning process.
One of the ways we hope to achieve this is through changing the way teachers view information literacy. Rather than seeing information literacy as simply finding sources, we hope to broaden their perspective, to see information literacy as a key to learning. In a later blog post, we will talk about information literacy as a “mega literacy” that underpins other forms of literacy and learning. One of our team, Angela Feekery, has defined information literacy for our project as “the processes, strategies, skills, competencies, expertise and ways of thinking which enable individuals to engage with information to learn across a range of platforms, transform the known, and discover the unknown”.
So how will we achieve all this? Our project has three stages:
Year 1 (2017): Surveying the IL landscape and creating a foundation for research
Year 1 is all about creating a national picture of how teachers/students engage with information literacy and the library as a baseline for our research, and forming collaborative partnerships between teachers and librarians in our participating institutions. These will be our main activities:
- Conducting a nationwide survey of teachers, librarians and senior management to assess how information literacy is currently placed in schools and tertiary institutions. The last time information literacy was examined in schools through a nationwide survey was a 2005 ERO report. We want to know how (if) things have changed since then.
- Running workshops for our participating schools/tertiary institutions on information literacy
- Developing collaborative partnerships between librarians and teachers
- Assessing students’ information literacy skills through the information literacy rubric
Year 2 (2018): Collaborative partnerships.
In the second year we focus on our collaborative partnerships, supporting and evaluating their work. We will be developing resources to strengthen those partnerships, as well as a set of information literacy progressions for use in Year 3.
Year 3 (2019): Implementing the Information Literacy Progressions
In our third year, we hope to extend our reach into participating schools through the use of a set of information literacy progressions – and we will support the use of those progressions, develop more resources, and then do a final evaluation of the effect of our partnerships and progressions on student learning. We will run a mid-year hui on information literacy that will be open to anyone working in the information literacy space. We will write up our research and present our findings at relevant national and international conferences.
In all this, the notion of partnership is utterly critical to our project. All our participants (teachers and librarians) will be engaged in designing, conducting and evaluating the research. We will develop resources and progressions together. We subscribe to the notion that everyone brings particular skills, experience and expertise to our project, and we are keen to harness and value all of those attributes to bring about the best outcomes for our students.
So, how can you be involved? We’d love you to follow our blog and our facebook page – and to provide comments on any aspect of the project. We would encourage you to think about how what we’re learning might impact on your own practice. And if you can see a role for yourself in this project – perhaps there is a teacher-librarian partnership in your school that could be a part of our research – we would love to hear from you.