7 Sep 2012

Research on perceptions of "Information Literacy"

Information Literacy (IL) is a hot topic in the Library and Information Science (LIS) research community. There are many different ways of conducting studies into IL. This post outlines some current IL research using Phenomenography as reported at a recent conference.


SIG 9 conference participants
Christine Yates, Clarence Maybee and Eva Hornung 
© Emmanuel Ojo
The European Association for  Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) has 22 special interest groups. One of them, SIG 9 Phenomenography and Variation Theory, held its meeting on 27-28 August 2012 in Jönköping, Sweden. Phenomenography is a qualitiative research approach, which helps investigate people's different perceptions of a phenomenon and is therefore suited to explore conceptions of IL in a diverse set of circumstances. 

Even though the main focus of the conference had been on research into learning using Phenomenography and Variation Theory, two papers reporting ongoing research came from the LIS field.

Christine Yates, Research Assistant and PhD candidate at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia, gave a presentation on health information literacy as experienced by Australians aged between 45 and 64 years. She found seven different categories, which she hopes will inform official health information policies and the way information is being disseminated:
- building a knowledge base about a health matter
- paying attention to one's own body (bodily information)
- weighing up information for health care decisions
- discerning what is valid information
- staying informed for health
- envisaging health (one's own health in the future)
- participating in a learning community

Some of these categories had a more long-term focus, some were more of "need to know now" kind. The interviewees used a range of information sources, including, of course, the Internet. But I'm glad to report that libraries also featured;)

Clarence Maybee, Information Specialist at Purdue University in Indiana and also doctoral candidate participating in a joint programme of QUT and San Jose State University, looked at how undergraduate students learn to use information while they engage with course content. He examined how teachers and students use concepts of "informed learning" in their classrooms. The core idea behind "informed learning" is that "using information and learning happen(s) simultaneously".

The programme and abstracts can be found on the conference website.

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