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Sherma Edwards 1

DETT 611 Section, 9040

Sherma Edwards
DETT 611 Section, 9040
April 5, 2015
Information Literacy Article Review

Sherma Edwards 2
DETT 611 Section, 9040

Information literacy (IL) is a very important and critical skill in the pursuit of
knowledge (Wesleyan University, 2015, para1). It comprises of acknowledging the need for
information and maximizing ones ability to effectively locate, to evaluate, to use and to
communicate information in a clear, precise and ethical manner according to copyright laws
(WU, 2015). Within higher education (HE) and distance learning institutions, developing an IL
policy and procedure will help to ensure that students develop attributes (Johnston, 2010,
p.207), that will be beneficial to them overall in their work environments and future endeavors
through continuous lifelong learning and will protect both the student and the institution from
infringement. The article written by Nicole Johnston (2010) entitled, Is an Online Learning
Module an Effective Way to Develop Information Literacy Skills serves as a resource for
educating distance education (DE) leaders in online learning and its effectiveness in developing
graduate attribute skills, particularly IL skills (Johnston, 2010, p. 207). This paper introduces an
online IL tutorial practiced at James Cook University (JCU) and will consist of an article review
and summary.
Article Review & Analysis
As early as in 2009, students within their first year at JCU and those enrolled in
the social work program were required to complete an IL module as part of their assessment
(Johnston, 2010, p.207) as part of the JCUs mission and objective. This online tool and module
is designed mainly for students and comprises of searching strategies, information-evaluation
and referencing and was used to measure the students competency level when using online
research methods (Johnston, 2010, p. 208).

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DETT 611 Section, 9040

Providing students with an online module and library instruction is appropriate because it
promotes flexibility and also meets the needs of both the face-to-face and DE students who are
exposed to work or family life and time constraints at the JCU. Another, strength to having such
online tutorials is that it gives students an opportunity to be exposed to and become familiar with
their institutions learning platform called Backboard and technologies such as discussion
boards, screencasts and podcasts and IL such as online searching and retrieval (Johnston,
2010, p.208). Also, students are able to receive a greater out of class support through the
availability of teaching materials and formative feedback 24/7 (Johnston, 2010, p.210). A third
strength is that HE institutions are realizing the need to add quality to its online programs
through advanced technology and this can also encourage engagement and retention.
However, DE institutions must acknowledge that technology is secondary in the
teaching and learning environment and students do need a well designed learning goal and
objective (Berge, 1995, p.35) in order to be successful in meeting JSUs Graduate Attribute
Policy (Johnston, 2010, p.208). It is recommended that students have consistent learner support
and this tool is quite helpful to new students within the social work program at JCU and is even
used in other existing DE institutions today.
As noted in the article, the graduate attributes at JCU must have one set of generic skills
throughout their degree process, however the author did discuss issues, pros and cons related to
graduate attributes research, IL research and project outline and methods of research (Johnston,
2010). For example, Johnston (2010, p.208), states that graduate attributes consists of
theoretical research on graduate attributes and research into embedding graduate attributes into
the curriculum. According to Rao, Cameron & Gaskin-Noel (2009, p.59), assessing core
competencies for students who are enrolled in purely online programs poses a challenge to

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DETT 611 Section, 9040

colleges and universities, As a result, Mercer College has two 3 credit courses, one called
(JRSM, 301) to assess general education competencies and (LISC 260)-Using Electronic
Resources for Research that serves as a required library and IL class (Rao, Cameron & GaskinNoel, 2009, p.59).
In addition, the LISC 260 is quite similar to University of Maryland University Colleges
(UMUC) LIBS 150-Introduction to Research (UMUC, 2015a) class taught to undergraduate
students and UCSP 615- Orientation to Graduation Studies that is a mandatory class for the
graduate school students according to university policy and regardless of experience doing
research or expertise (UMUC, 2015b). Although these are great examples, Johnston (2010) in her
article also believes there is limited research on the outcomes pertaining to student graduate
attributes or practical examples of how these skills are embedded into the curriculum.
The reviewer did have to agree with the author, in reference to the students attribute
outcomes since she did a search in Google scholar and UMUCs library database. In an attempt
to test Johnstons theory, the articles the reviewer encountered did provide an exceptional
overview of graduate attributes but lacked details on evaluating student outcome. However, the
reviewer observed an extensive list of research or theory on how graduate attributes is embedded
into curriculum and this is defined in the article Embedding General Education Competencies
into an Online Information Literacy Course, which focused on students critical thinking
analysis, IL, critical reading, quantitative reasoning and writing skills (Rao, Cameron & GaskinNoel, 2009, p.59).
Moreover, with retrospect to IL, the key areas of research does focus on the
effectiveness of online modules versus face to face instruction, evaluation of the outcomes of

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DETT 611 Section, 9040

generic tutorials and subject specific training according to Johnston, (2010, p.209). Based on
the authors findings, the evaluative tools are surveys and pre/posttests that are used to measure
success of IL literacy initiatives. Another finding is that implementing IL is the most effective
method of the student support or student-centered model and the feedback received via these
assessments were generally positive from the participants but one literature does point out that
face-to-face instruction gained higher posttest means scores than students completing an online
tutorial and students attending library sessions felt more confident about their library skills than
those completing an online tutorial (Johnston, 2010, p.210).
The project and qualitative research at JCU was evaluated via a survey and a
questionnaire and interview of focused groups was conducted, which involved the social work
department, the students in the program and raised issues surrounding off-campus student
support. The targeted online module enabled students to develop an effective strategy, skills in
assessing information using broaden databases searches, use of the web search engine, evaluate
quality information and the use of APA and reference correctly (Johnston, 2010, p.211).
The projected resulted in success however the response rate was very low because the
feedback via the survey was not required in completing the module. One student felt that being
taught how to use social science databases so that that the most relevant information could be
found was quite beneficial and 82% agreed the result of completing the tutorial helped in
developing their skills and to improve the quality of their assignment (Johnston, 2010, p. 212).
According to the evaluation result the students struggle the most with the techniques related to
Boolean operation in obtaining more effective search outcomes (Johnston, 2010).

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Information, however, is transmitted through mass media with the intention of reaching a
targeted audience and satisfying their need. Mass communication is transmitted with the aid of
various technologies and information can be found in library databases, professional literatures
and most importantly the Internet. Because of the vast amount of methods one can retrieve
information, it is necessary to effectively evaluate its authenticity and dependability especially in
distance education (DE) environment. As a result, teachers and students must acquire this skill in
order to become lifelong learners while also being aware of copyright laws. Learners must have a
reasonable understanding of the fair use doctrine because ignorance is not a valid excuse.

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DETT 611 Section, 9040

Berge, Z. L. (1995). The role of the online instructor/facilitator. Retrieved
Johnston, N. (2010). Is an online learning module an effective way to develop information
literacy skills? Australian Academic and Research Libraries, 41 (3). pp. 207-218.
Rao, S., Cameron, A., Gaskin-Noel, S. (2009). Embedding general education competencies into
an online information literacy course. Journal of Library Administration, 49 (2). pp. 5973
Wesleyan University. (2015). Information literacy. Retrieved from
University of Maryland University College. (2015a). Graduate classes. Retrieved from
University of Maryland University College. (2015b). Undergraduate classes. Retrieved from