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At the start I was talking about how the question of “what is information literacy” can be answered in different ways. One can use definitions (I included the definition Bill Johnston and I developed). Our definition does take account of the “socio-political” element, and Bill and I have argued that information literacy is a discpline. One can look at Information Literacy in a pragmatic sort of way, using models and frameworks developed, mainly by librarians, with the aim of outlining areas of skill and knowledge that students ought to develop. I used the SCONUL 7 Pillars model as an example. You can also position information literacy as one amongst many desired attributes for a graduate (I quoted the relevant section from my own university’s learning, teaching and assessment strategy).
Another perspective is that of the individual within their own area of expertise: how they experience and conceive of informatio n literacy. This led me into a summary of some of the discoveries from our research into UK academics’ conceptions of, and pedagogy for, information literacy. I talked about the different meanings of “information” in different disciplines, outlined the conceptions of information literacy discovered in the four disciplinary areas, and talked about the implications for motivating and working with academics.
Something which I realised I had not emphasised enough in the slides was the impact of an academic's approach to teaching. From the outcomes of the research that was investigating academics’ approach to teaching information literacy, and from my own experience/observation, I would say that if you want to change the way an academic teaches information literacy than what you most want to change is their approach to teaching (rather than – their skills in information literacy). That is, this would have the most impact, if you want to have impact on student learning.
An academic might learn to search a database better, but this might not translate to any improvement in his/her students’ information literacy if the way the lecturer is teaching is still through lectures and exams. However, if the lecturer, through persuasive discussion with a librarian, is enthused to introduce a more constructivist approach to teaching, the students’ information literacy has more chance of developing. Our hope is that our research helps to reveal some ways in which people may be thinking about information literacy in their discipline, opening up more lines of communication and stimulating ideas.