Andrew Eynon’s Library Blog

A blog about librarianship in Further Education

Information Literacy in Further Education

Posted by andrewey on November 11, 2008

I was speaking at an event ‘Developing information literacy’ at Cardiff University last week, which looked at how different sectors were approaching the issue of delivering information skills.

In FE although we do sessions on information skills which are very similar to those run in HE (particularly on what might be regarded as ‘research skills’) we also offer more general support in the realms of information skills.

Some of the areas I highlighted of relevance to FE were:

  • Raising awareness – learners need to know which resources are available (before being shown how to use them)
  • Finding sources of information – knowing where the resources are
  • Access arrangements – which can be accessed on campus, which require Athens authentication and how to get an Athens account
  • Using the library catalogue – how to search, how to renew/reserve online, how to find and access e-resources via the catalogue
  • Library Orientation – finding your way around the library, gaining a basic understanding of how material is grouped under Dewey and why material relating to a course may be in more than one location.

 These issues were echoed by the speakers delivering information skills to school pupils.

By contrast there were case studies of information literacy delivery at Cardiff University (which pioneered the Cephalonian method of induction). The definition of information literacy used there is based on the SCONUL 7 pillars model (derived from Bloom’s taxonomy) – which places the emphasis on ‘evaluating’ and ‘understanding’ information sources.

In most cases the average FE library user is at or below the lowest level of the SCONUL model in terms of their prior knowledge of information skills – hence the emphasis required in FE on awareness raising of the resources available.

Of course with the high number of HE in FE students that we also cater for there is the challenge of raising their information literacy to level 6 on the SCONUL model (assuming level 7 relates to research students). 

Cardiff University does provide an impressive range of resources to support information literacy including an excellent handbook on teaching information skills and good use of web 2.0 tools such as podcasting.

In terms of tackling information skills delivery there was an interesting post on Mark Hepworth’s blog –  ‘Information Literacy diagnostic questions’. Many of the questions Mark poses would also apply to information literacy with students in FE such as knowing which key words to use and how to correctly search the information sources available (and Mark gives many examples of search strategies). I also like the point about using informal sources of advice first such as friends, family etc. It’s noticeable that resources recommended by friends (as well as tutors) are the ones most often requested.

If you have found any particularly effective ways of delivering information literacy in FE then please leave a comment.

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