Integrating information literacy into the curriculum

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1 Integrating information literacy into the curriculum Open University Library Services COBE

2 Practical pedagogy series This booklet is part of the Practical Pedagogy series, which aims to promote good practice and offer practical advice in learning, teaching and curriculum development. It has been produced by Open University Library Services in collaboration with colleagues from the Centre for Outcomes-Based Education (COBE): Revised June For more information, please contact the Library helpdesk: Integrating information literacy into the curriculum

3 Contents Introduction 2 What is information literacy and why is it important? 3 IL: a twenty-first-century skill 3 IL, learning and employability 3 How to integrate IL into the curriculum 5 Developing learning outcomes 5 Assessing IL 5 IL Levels Framework 6 Building in progression 8 Teaching IL 9 Guidelines for programme and module teams 10 Appendix 11 References 12

4 Introduction This booklet has been written by Open University Library Services, in collaboration with colleagues from the Centre for Outcomes-Based Education (COBE), for everyone involved in writing and teaching Open University (OU) courses. Its purpose is to show how information literacy (IL) can be successfully built into programmes of study and what support is available from Library Services to help you to achieve this. It is aimed at programme committees and module teams, and will also be of interest to Staff Tutors and Associate Lecturers (ALs) involved in developing and teaching the skills content of OU modules. This booklet contains: practical guidance to support the integration of IL helpful tips for module teams and programme committees. IL is a key component in the development of the student as an independent learner. For module teams and programme committees this means that if students are guided from the outset in developing IL skills they will be better able to find, evaluate and use material to support their learning, and this material will not have to be wholly generated by the team. While this is necessarily a developmental process that unfolds over a student s learning journey, the aim is that a successful learner at the OU will also have become highly skilled at navigating the information landscape. Lord Puttnam, Chancellor of the OU, has endorsed the importance of information literacy: I do think anyone with an OU degree should be brilliantly familiar with information gathering on the Web. The idea you will graduate from the OU without being a world-class researcher yourself, should be nonsense. We should be challenging students to find their own links, and their own information. I m not sure we re doing this enough. (Cook, 2009, p. 2) The ability of students to work confidently with IT tools, learn from a wide range of sources and apply critical thinking skills in different contexts are essential attributes for twenty-first-century graduates and employees. Integrating IL is about creating a curriculum which enables students to develop the skills to learn independently and to carry on learning, throughout their employment and life.

5 What is information literacy and why is it important? IL: a twenty-first-century skill Being able to access and manage information competently is a vital twenty-first-century survival skill. The current information landscape is constantly changing, with internet searches now commonplace, the move to user-generated content such as blogs and wikis, and the widespread use of social networking tools such as Facebook, YouTube and Flickr. Many people today our current and future students are confident in using technology, and in generating their own content. However, this also raises skills issues: While they are frequent users of electronic tools, Net Geners [the Net generation] typically lack information literacy skills, and their critical thinking skills are often weak They may be digital natives, but they do not necessarily understand how their use of technology affects their literacy or habits of learning. For educators, providing the technological bells and whistles needed to engage Net Geners may not be as effective or as critical as improving their information literacy and critical thinking skills. (Barnes et al., 2007) A range of models and terminology have been developed worldwide by both academics and librarians, and by national and international organisations, to articulate the suite of skills implicit within the term information literacy. Fundamentally, IL is the ability to recognise when information is needed, then locate and evaluate the appropriate information and use it effectively and responsibly. The definition widely supported by the library community in the UK, produced by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) is that: Information literacy is knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner. (CILIP, 2004) IL also has a close relationship with other literacies, for example media literacy (Ofcom, 2007), digital literacy (Hague et al., 2010) and ICT literacy. Information now comes in many different forms and its quality varies enormously; people need to develop the cognitive, transferable skills to be able to work efficiently and effectively with what they find online. Martin Bean, OU Vice-Chancellor, talks about the importance of sense-making of information and believes it is vital that students acquire the ability to determine what information can be trusted: We ve got to give people the skills to be able to make their mind up themselves. (Bean, 2010) The evaluation and ethical use of information to manage it honestly, fairly, legally and appropriately is crucial within both academic learning (for example, to avoid plagiarism) and the wider community. IL, learning and employability Integrating IL into the curriculum is about building skills for independent and lifelong learning in a systematic way throughout a student s OU career. OU graduates should be able to use information literacy to find, evaluate, process, present and communicate information (COBE, 2005) in any life or work situation. The OU s Learning and Teaching Strategy highlights the need for students to be supported so that they become competent and confident learners in the digital environment (OU, 2009). Here is what one student says about how developing their IL skills at first level has helped them with future study: I have since gone on to do a Masters Degree with the OU, and I keep referring to this course, its fundamentals and strategies, to enable me to find quickly and accurately relevant works and papers I need for background and research. (TU120 student, 2007) IL is a career-enhancing skill and, in some professions, a requirement. Many of the professional standards, such as those in nursing and social work, stipulate that their practitioners must demonstrate the effective use of information. Indeed, 80 per cent of students studying K315 Critical social work practice who responded to a 2009 survey agreed that they were able to use the IL skills learned on their degree in their practice setting. 3

6 I think the empirical research pushed me to cross boundaries I had imposed on myself. By this I mean I did not research information as a matter of course prior to taking the K315 [third level practice learning module]. I now research more information on the internet. This in turn has increased my knowledge on subjects and has given me confidence as I now feel that when asked by service users on advice etc. I feel I have now identified gaps in my knowledge and now feel able to pass this information on. From a national perspective, information skills are recognised as a key element in the economy. Digital Britain: Final Report (2009) states that: (K315 social work student, 2009) It is therefore important to equip our students with the skills they need in their community and their workplace, and with the ability to articulate the skills they have developed, by linking IL to learning outcomes in modules and programmes. This approach has been adopted at a national level in both Scotland and Wales, although not so far in England. There is now an IL framework for Scotland covering all stages of learning from early years to postgraduate and beyond, extending to include employability skills and attributes. Similar work is taking place in Wales. Even where IL is not a specific professional requirement, companies can gain a competitive and economic advantage if their employees are able to find and assess information quickly. Recent research has indicated that lack of information skills at work can have a high cost: It is conservatively estimated that 3.7 billion is spent by SMEs in the UK on time wasted looking for information that they cannot find. (De Saulles, 2007) The ability of Digital Britain to contribute its full potential to our future economic growth is critically dependent on having enough people with the right skills in the right place at the right time to develop and apply the new technologies. (BIS/DCMS, 2009, p. 21 of Executive Summary)

7 How to integrate IL into the curriculum Developing learning outcomes The OU Learning and Teaching Strategy (2009) is clear that IL needs to be part of the overall learning design for modules and programmes and that staff should be supported to develop their knowledge of how to do this effectively. It is advisable to think early on in the module production process about how your module fits into the programme as a whole, what skills your module should develop and how the learning outcomes and assessment will reflect these. Your Library representative will be happy to discuss this with you. The guidelines on page 10 suggest how programme committees and module teams can engage with IL. External accreditation requirements such as the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Subject Benchmark Statements (QAA, 2007) also provide useful guidance on the skills levels expected of graduates. Once learning outcomes have been agreed, these can be mapped to the appropriate IL skills as set out in the Library Services IL Levels Framework (on pp. 6 and 7). The IL Levels Framework expands on the broad-brush statements for IL in the OU Undergraduate Levels Framework by offering more detailed guidance on the type of learning outcomes for IL skills to include at each level. It aims to help develop and integrate IL activities within course materials, to aid skills development and progression through different levels of study, and to provide module teams with more detailed guidance on what to include in modules and programmes. The Framework groups IL skills within four areas: Understand the information landscape. Assessing IL At the same time as planning learning outcomes, assessment of IL skills should also be considered. It is best to look at assessment across the programme as a whole, and link it to relevant outcomes at the different levels to ensure student progression and development are supported. Assessment needs to be appropriate for the type and level of skill. Moodle quizzes can work well for formative and summative assessment of skills where objective testing (right or wrong answers) is required. This kind of self-assessment also reduces the burden on tutors to provide formative feedback and encourages students to become self-sufficient. However, assessment of higher-order skills such as evaluation or reflection, where outcomes are more open-ended, will require a different approach. Using an e-portfolio can help students reflect on their learning as well as recognising and articulating their skills. Self-assessment at the beginning of a module enables students to identify any gaps in their IL skills. Info-Rate, an online diagnostic questionnaire developed by Library Services, is one tool that can be used. Feedback directs students to relevant parts of Safari, the OU s online information skills tutorial. By making explicit what the skills are and at what level they are to be carried out, and by using clear language to express this, students can be helped to articulate the skills they have developed and to link them to their workplace and wider community. Plan and carry out a search. Critically evaluate information. Manage and communicate your results. Within each of these areas, IL skills are described at OU first, second and third level. The IL Framework describes skills in generic terms. It is designed to be flexible and adaptable within the range of disciplinary contexts at the OU, rather than prescriptive. 5

8 IL Levels Framework (June 2010) Skill area Level 1 Understand the information landscape. Plan and carry out a search. Be able to identify a limited number of key sources of information in the subject area or context. Have experienced using a limited number of formats of information (for example, books, journals, websites), as appropriate to the course. Be able to articulate the key characteristics of different information types (e.g. print/electronic, primary/secondary, freely available/subscriber only/ invisible Web) as relevant to the subject or context. Be able to identify the knowledge gap and what information is needed to fill it. Be able to determine appropriate keywords, including synonyms. Know how to adapt a search (e.g. broadening or narrowing by adding or removing keywords, or using different ones). Be able to plan and carry out a search in a database on a pre-defined topic using pre-defined resources. Be able to find an article or book from a reference. Critically evaluate information. Be familiar with and begin to apply appropriate quality criteria to evaluate pre-defined information. Be able to use appropriate quality criteria in a broad sense to carry out initial filtering of material from searches. Manage and communicate your results. Know what is meant by plagiarism. Know what a reference is, the information required to create a reference, and that references can be created in different styles. Be aware of the need to accurately record search results. Be able to select appropriate references to produce a reference list and in-text citations as required for course assignments. 6

9 Level 2 Level 3 Be able to identify a range of key sources of information in the subject area. Have experienced using a range of formats of information (e.g. bibliographic records, full text, abstracts). Be able to use knowledge of key resources and their characteristics to independently select appropriate resources for the task as relevant to the subject or context. Be familiar with the general principles of effective searching. Be able to recognise common search features across different databases and the Web. Be able to use a range of database functionality (e.g. truncation, phrase searching, date limits, combining search terms) within a single database. Be able to independently carry out a simple subject search within a single database. Be able to use judgement to appropriately adapt a search, including the decision to use a new database. Be able to interpret database results (e.g. bibliographic or full text), and use results functionality (e.g. sorting, saving, exporting). Be able to use appropriate quality criteria to evaluate a range of resources (e.g. books, articles, websites) effectively. Be able to use appropriate quality criteria to filter results. Be able to produce an accurate list of references for common sources using the appropriate style. Be able to record search results accurately. Be aware of different systems available for managing references (e.g. social bookmarking tools, card index, diary, Refworks). Be able to select and use a wide range of sources appropriate to the discipline, from the Library and beyond. Use knowledge of resources and their characteristics to independently select appropriate resources for the task. Be aware of sources of current information for keeping up to date and able to select and use those most appropriate to needs. Be able to identify and frame problems or research questions and to select appropriate information to address these. Be able to use search techniques and common search functions with confidence. Be able to search familiar and unfamiliar sources independently and confidently, refining the search as needed (e.g. broadening and narrowing). Apply appropriate quality criteria to critically evaluate information from any source to determine authority, bias, etc., which sometimes may be subtle to detect. Be able to use appropriate quality criteria to filter results, and also to focus on the most relevant information within documents. Be able to accurately and appropriately refer to the thoughts and ideas of others in your work. Be aware of the range of tools and techniques for managing and exporting references (e.g. card index, Refworks) and able to select and use as appropriate. 7

10 Building in progression This table shows how two IL skills are developed through the Social Work Degree at each level. IL skill Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Plan and carry out a search for information using the most appropriate sources. In Module 6, Activity 10: Introduction to searching important social work database, Social Care Online. Students follow a sample search with extensive use of screen shots to guide students. By the end of the activity, students should be able to: break down search topic into broad areas or concepts identify keywords begin to understand how keywords can be combined with use of AND perform a sample search of Social Care Online. In Study Unit 6, Activity 6 and Unit 8, Activity 5: Students searching skills are developed using a different database. Boolean operators, truncation, wildcards, search strings and the use of a thesaurus are covered. Minimal use of screen shots. By the end of the two activities, students should be able to: put together a search strategy for a given information search search ASSIA use a thesaurus in a database. In Unit 1: Students identify their own topic. More advanced functionality of databases is investigated using Web of Science as an example. Topics covered include: specifying fields to search within, more advanced wildcard options, refining searches, citation searching. By the end of the activity, students should be able to: identify a need for information and convert this need into a search strategy use the full functionality of a specified database search for citations. Organise information so that it can be retrieved and presented. In Module 3, Activity 7: Introduction to the systems available for organising information. Extensive use of screen shots is used to guide students. By the end of a series of activities, students should be able to: understand the importance of organising information identify some of the systems available understand how and why to cite references produce a bibliography import references manually into Refworks. In Unit 11, Activity 3: Students are introduced to more of the functionality of RefWorks. No use of screen shots. By the end of the activity, students should be able to: directly import references from a database into RefWorks organise references within RefWorks. In Unit 12: Students are encouraged to reflect on the different tools and electronic resources they have used through the programme, to identify those that will still be available to them in their practice and to transfer information from tools that will no longer be available, e.g. RefWorks, to other freely available tools. By the end of the activities, students should be able to: identify which tools and resources they will have access to in their professional career save their RefWorks references to another tool keep themselves up to date. 8

11 Teaching IL In order to support module teams and ALs in teaching IL skills to students, Library Services have developed a Library Information Literacy (LIL) VLE site housing a collection of learning objects to deliver the skills. Activities are grouped under the four skills headings used in the IL Levels Framework and provide best-practice generic examples that faculties can either use directly or reversion to suit their own context. Students can be directed to appropriate activities on LIL from their course website. Contact Library Services for more details and guidance on reversioning. The Library Information Literacy VLE site is supplemented by the online IL Toolkit, aimed at ALs and linked from the TutorHome page. The IL Toolkit contains material both to help ALs develop their own skills and to use with students in tutorials. Library Services also offer tutorials via Elluminate covering a range of topics which can help students and ALs to become more confident in finding, evaluating and managing the information they need. Third-party licensed resources, such as those available via Library Services or Open Educational Resources (OER), offer an ideal way of building IL into modules and programmes. As well as enhancing the learning experience for students and building their skills, using existing online resources can help to keep production and presentation costs down. In response to changing models of course production and the increasing importance being placed on developing students as independent learners, Library Services have developed a website to support programme and module teams: Details can be viewed of the different types of thirdparty content available for use, together with casestudies of how these have been, or might be, used. A section on IL provides links to all the tools outlined above, together with examples of IL assessment and links to relevant benchmarking and professional competency statements.

12 Guidelines for programme and module teams These guidelines are aimed at modules in production, but also apply to those in presentation, where review processes have identified a need to incorporate more independent learning. Your Library representative will be happy to advise. Action Use QAA benchmarks and occupational standards of professional bodies to determine where IL skills fit into your programme of study. Identify key modules in the programme in which skills could be developed. Use the Library Services IL Levels Framework to map IL skills to your learning outcomes. Consider how IL is going to be assessed at each level and how this contributes to the demonstration of learning outcomes for the programme as a whole. Comments IL skills might not be explicitly referred to Library staff can work with you to identify the relevant competencies relating to IL. Contact your Library representative early in the process. Consider what skills you want to build into each level, taking into account any external validation criteria. Library staff can help you to identify which skills to include where and how they can be developed. Will you want to assess the process (for example, how students have selected resources), or the end product (for example, an assignment based on independent research of online sources), or both? What will formative and summative assessment look like? Make use of diagnostic tests at each level for students to assess their existing skills level. Be explicit about how IL will be developed and assessed so that it is clear to both ALs and students. Explain in marketing information, programme websites and programme guides how the qualification learning outcomes support IL skills and what the benefits are to students. Aim to use the full potential of the VLE to help students develop IL skills. This will allow students to judge whether they can miss out activities for skills they already have, or need to take remedial action to bring their skills up to the required level. This includes linking IL skills to employability outcomes and using language that enables students to articulate and transfer the skills they have acquired to the workplace. Use the IL Levels Framework as a starting-point for identifying IL-related employability skills. Online activities from the Library Services resource bank can be linked from module and programme websites. Online assessments (for example, ICMAs in Moodle) can be used to provide feedback to students on skills development. Forums and wikis can encourage collaborative knowledge construction for IL, and enable peer assessment. Ensure that ALs and students are aware of the IL help and support available to them from Library Services. This includes online activities and tutorials, Elluminate synchronous and recorded training sessions, and the Library Helpdesk (available 7 days a week). 10

13 Appendix The following is taken from the Undergraduate Levels Framework (June 2005), available from the Centre for Outcomes- Based Education or the website Indicator Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Knowledge and understanding Knowing about and understanding your subject. Show that you know and understand principles, concepts and terms central to your subject. Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the principles, concepts and techniques used in your subject. Demonstrate systematic knowledge and critical understanding of your subject, some of it in specialist areas, and informed by current thinking and developments. Cognitive skills Description, application, analysis and synthesis of knowledge. Use your knowledge and understanding to describe, analyse and interpret defined aspects of your subject. Apply your knowledge and understanding accurately to a range of issues, questions and problems relevant to your subject. Apply established techniques to critically evaluate and interpret your subject in a range of contexts. Select and use accurately established techniques of analysis and enquiry outside the context in which they were first studied, and be aware of their limitations. Synthesise, critically evaluate and challenge information, arguments and assumptions from different sources, including publications informed by current issues or research developments as appropriate. Recognise the potential uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge in your subject. Key skills Addressing issues and problems Awareness of context and environment. Know about and begin to address issues and problems central to your subject. Compare critically and use different approaches to issues and problems within your subject. Identify and ask questions appropriately to explore relevant issues or problems within your subject. Communication Communicating clearly, effectively and appropriately with others (including interpersonal skills, collaborative and group working). Develop your skills in communicating information accurately and appropriately to your subject, purpose and audience. Communicate information, arguments and ideas effectively, using the styles and language appropriate to your subject, purpose and audience. Communicate complex information, arguments and ideas effectively and appropriately to your subject, purpose and audience. Information literacy Finding, critically evaluating and using information. Develop your skills in finding, selecting and using information or data in defined contexts. Find, critically evaluate and use information or data accurately in a range of contexts. Find, critically evaluate and use information or data accurately in complex contexts. ICT and numerical skills Using appropriate ICT and numerical skills. Develop your use of ICT tools and your numerical skills as appropriate to support your studies. Use ICT tools and numerical skills, as appropriate, to help you learn effectively. Select and use ICT tools to improve your learning and extend your numerical skills, as appropriate. Learning how to learn Managing and improving your own learning. Become aware of ways in which you learn, and begin to develop as an independent learner. Plan, monitor and review your progress as an independent learner. As an independent learner, plan, monitor and evaluate your own learning and seek ways to improve your performance. PRACTICAL AND PROFESSIONAL SKILLS Developing practical skills and professional awareness. Develop, as appropriate, practical and professional skills and awareness of relevant ethical issues. Engage, as appropriate, with practical and professional skills and demonstrate an awareness of relevant ethical issues. Engage, as appropriate, with practical and professional skills and relevant ethical issues. PERSONAL AND CAREER DEVELOPMENT Using personal and career planning and development resources. Plan your study pathway to link your learning with your personal and/or career goals. Recognise and record your skills and knowledge to support your personal and/or career goals. Recognise, record and communicate your skills and knowledge to achieve your personal and/or career goals. 11

14 References Barnes, K., Marateo, R. and Ferris, S. (2007) Teaching and learning with the Net generation, Innovate, vol. 3, no. 4 [online] Nova Southeastern University, United States: The Fischler School of Education and Human Services, and_learning_with_the_net_generation.pdf (Accessed 20 May 2010). Bean, M. (2010), Naomi Sargant Memorial Lecture, part 12, (Accessed 17 May 2010). BIS/DCMS (2009) Digital Britain: Final Report, digitalbritain-finalreport-jun09.pdf (Accessed 17 May 2010). CILIP (2004) Information Literacy: Definition [online], information-literacy/pages/definition.aspx (Accessed 13 May 2010). COBE (2005) Undergraduate Levels Framework, Centre for Outcomes-Based Education, The Open University. De Saulles, M. (2007) Information literacy amongst UK SME: an information policy gap, Aslib Proceedings, vol. 59, no. 1, pp , also available online at Servlet?Filename=Published/EmeraldFullTextArticle/ Articles/ html (Accessed 13 May 2010). Hague, C. and Payton, S. (2010) Digital Literacy Across the Curriculum, Futurelab [online], (Accessed 20 May 2010). Ofcom (2007) Media literacy, Office of Communications [online], (Accessed 17 May 2010). OU (2009) Learning and Teaching Strategy (internal). QAA (2007) Subject Benchmark Statements [online], Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, benchmark/default.asp (Accessed 17 May 2010). Cook, Y. (2009) What are we going to look like at 50?: interview with Lord Puttnam, Society Matters, no. 12, pp

15 Integrating information literacy into the curriculum

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