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An evaluation of a course located in the relational frame of IL. Whitworth

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Presented at LILAC 2010

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An evaluation of a course located in the relational frame of IL. Whitworth

  1. 1. An evaluation of a course located in the relational frame of IL Andrew Whitworth University of Manchester A presentation for LILAC 2010
  2. 2. Introduction • Published & forthcoming papers on this course: • Journal of Information Literacy 3/2 • Mackey & Jacobson collection, Teaching  Information Literacy Online  (Neal-Schulman, US) • British Journal of Educational Technology (reviews approach to learner & program control)
  3. 3. Introduction • This presentation reports results from the evaluation of two offerings: 2008-9 & 2009- 10 • A distinctive model of IL teaching is explored... • ...but is it effective?
  4. 4. Valuing information Most definitions of IL treat the learner as the agent and evaluator of an infor- mation search. They therefore privilege the subjective valuing of information. However, we also value information in objective and intersubjective ways. SubjectivitySubjectivity ObjectivityObjectivity IntersubjectivityIntersubjectivity
  5. 5. Objective value SubjectivitySubjectivity ObjectivityObjectivity IntersubjectivityIntersubjectivity We value information objectively when we judge it against scientific measures of validity or reliability. Omit this scheme of value and we risk found information (and knowledge formed from it) becoming counterknowledge  (Thompson 2008).
  6. 6. Intersubjective value SubjectivitySubjectivity ObjectivityObjectivity IntersubjectivityIntersubjectivityObjectivityObjectivity Intersubjective forms of value are created consciously or unconsciously by communities. They include morals, laws, economics etc. Omit these and found information may be relativist, making no reference to things like ethics, community needs (workplace or local), etc.
  7. 7. Subjective value SubjectivitySubjectivity ObjectivityObjectivity IntersubjectivityIntersubjectivityObjectivityObjectivity IntersubjectivityIntersubjectivity Subjective value is the realm of personal calculations of need, as well as considerations such as aesthetics, prior experience etc. Omit it, and we risk ‘groupthink’ or ‘battery cognition’ (Blaug 2007): an inability to distinguish our cognition from that of the organisation or community.
  8. 8. Holism SubjectivitySubjectivity ObjectivityObjectivity IntersubjectivityIntersubjectivityObjectivityObjectivity IntersubjectivityIntersubjectivity Because of the risks posed by these three pathologies of information processing: * groupthink * relativism * counterknowledge; ...all three forms of value must be accounted for by the information literate person.
  9. 9. The 6 frames of IL • Among the few schemes of IL teaching to address this holism is Bruce, Edwards and Lupton’s Six Frames of Information Literacy (2007). • This was developed following research into the different ways IL was viewed by learners and practitioners.
  10. 10. Five of the 6 frames... Frame Value Belief about IL Assessed by Content Objective IL is knowledge about the world of information Knowing about a tool or technique Competency Objective IL is a set of competencies or skills Applying a tool or technique Learning to learn Subjective IL is a way of learning Solving a problem (without prescribing a tool or technique in advance) Personal relevance Subjective IL is dependent on context and is different for different people and groups Reflecting on experience Social impact Intersubjective IL issues are important to society Transformation of practice
  11. 11. And the 6th? Learning to learnLearning to learn ContentContent Social impactSocial impact Personal relevancePersonal relevance CompetencyCompetency The sixth frame - the relational frame - brings the other five together Learners working in the sixth frame develop the ability to move between the other five frames as appropriate
  12. 12. The Media & IL course • Data have been collected from both the 2008-9 and 2009-10 offerings of the course • As the two offerings were identical, they have been analysed together - no cross-cohort comparisons have been made • A total of 32 students completed the course • 13 were on-campus learners and 19 distance learners
  13. 13. What I will look at today • Questionnaire data, sent out to all students: 16 replied (50% response rate). 4 of these participated in a more detailed focus group. • Content analysis of all 32 submitted assessments • Moodle log file data exists and has been used elsewhere (BJET paper): this is not being looked at today.
  14. 14. Beliefs about IL • Students were asked to rank the statements about IL suggested in Bruce et al: they were asked to pick their first and second choices • This took place a few months after the completion of the course • Bear in mind that what I ideally want to see is equal distribution between the responses
  15. 15. Beliefs about IL • Ranked first by students: • IL is knowledge about the world of information: 1 • IL is a set of competencies or skills: 4 • IL is a way of learning: 5 • IL is different things to different people: 3 • IL is important to society: 3 • Ranked second by students: • IL is knowledge about the world of information: 1 • IL is a set of competencies or skills: 3 • IL is a way of learning: 4 • IL is different things to different people: 3 • IL is important to society: 5
  16. 16. Impact on personal & professional development •Have they used the portfolio activities in real teaching situations? • 11/16 had done so: this includes one student who had given the resources to a colleague • Of the 5 who had not used them, one student pointed out that she had not had the opportunity to do so (having gone straight onto PhD study after the course)
  17. 17. Impact on personal & professional development • Have they changed their own IL practices following completion of the course? • 13/16 students said they had done so, including several who emphasised their response with terms like ‘significantly so’, ‘totally’, ‘definitely’ • Of the remaining 3, two gave ambiguous answers (‘to an extent’, ‘slightly’) and only one said clearly that she had not changed her practice.
  18. 18. Content analysis of assessment • The course is assessed by a portfolio of 4 teaching and learning activities (with commentary). • If across these activities students had addressed all frames (using the techniques from slide 10), they could be said to be working in a holistic way.
  19. 19. Content analysis of assessment Activity Text Coding Title: How are young people represented in the news? Aims of session: The aim of this activity is to investigate how young people are represented in the news and look at reasons why they are presented in such a way. Task: The tutor shows various news headlines from the newspapers about young people and asks students to think about how the headlines make them feel and how readers will react to the stories. Students have to pick a headline each and analyse the corresponding news story and look at how young people have been portrayed. What techniques has the newspaper used to get a certain point of view across and promote credibility? For example, quoting specialists or professionals, using statistics, imagery, language? Students should make notes of their findings. Students are then asked to rewrite the article briefly and include the opinion or point of view of young people, to demonstrate how different the story might be were young people able to give their account of events. Reflection on practice Use of a tool or technique Use of a tool or technique Title: Producing a newspaper Aims of session: To decide on roles within the team who will publish the newspaper, agree on a plan and content and begin work on the publication. Task: With the help of the tutor students have to identify the roles and responsibilities needed to get their newspaper published and decide who in their team would be best suited to each role. The tutor acts as a facilitator to encourage collaborative learning and encourage students to take ownership of the newspaper. Having decided on roles and responsibilities students work as a group to plan the publication. Once the action plan has been created students can then begin to work on their individual responsibilities. These may include: researching topics, arranging interviews, proof reading articles and acquiring images. Solving a problem Transforming practice
  20. 20. Content analysis of assessment • As this coding was done by the researcher alone, a member checking process took place. • Students in the focus group also assigned their activities to categories. There are some discrepancies in ‘secondary’ assignations; students are also more likely to define their work as transformative (in fact all of them said this about the last activity). Activity #1 #2 #3 #4 Student DL13 R: 1, 2 S: 1, 2 R: 2, 4, 5 S: 2, 4 R: 3, 4 S: 3, 5 R: 3, 6 S: 6 C16 R: 1, 2, 4 S: 1, 2 R: 2 S: 1, 2, 4 R: 2, 3, 5 S: 3, 5 R: 2, 3, 4 S: 6 C33 R: 1, 4 S: 1 R: 2 S: 2, 4 R: 3,4 S: 3, 4 R: 4 S: 6 C34 R: 1, 2 S: 1, 2 R: 2, 4 S: 4 R: 2, 4 S: 2, 4 R: 4 S: 6 This at least suggests students accepted the need to transform practice as the ultimate objective of IL, and had the intention of doing so in their portfolio, even if in the assessor’s opinion they did not follow through on this. A wider sample is needed.
  21. 21. Content analysis of assessment •Across all submitted portfolios there were 33 x 4 = 132 activities. Each could be classified in more than one frame. • Telling students about a tool or technique (content frame): 46 • Teaching students how to use a tool or technique (competency frame): 60 • Setting a problem that learners have to solve (learning to learn frame): 24 • Getting the learners to reflect on prior experience (personal relevance frame): 61 • Transforming policy or practice (social impact frame): 27
  22. 22. Content analysis of assessment • 10 of the 32 portfolios included at least one activity from each of the five frames, and could therefore be considered truly relational. • 7 more portfolios did not include an activity from every frame but did include one which was considered transformational, or critical (though this drops to 4 if only the assessor’s original categorization was used). • Around half of all portfolios, then, indicated that students had recognized the need to transform the literacy practices of themselves or of others.
  23. 23. Conclusions • It is of course impossible to ‘prove’ that students are thinking about IL holistically as a result of the teaching on this course... • ...but the results do at least suggest that it is possible to teach IL in the relational frame.
  24. 24. Further developments • Can such an involved approach to IL education be suitable for all? • Perhaps not... but a modified version is in development with the John Rylands University Library at Manchester, for teaching PGR students • This project is being funded by the HEA-ICS
  25. 25. PGR Student version • Development version resides at [see the  handout] • Please log on as a guest: we welcome comments and feedback
  26. 26. Thank you • andrew.whitworth@manchester.ac.uk