'Information literacy through inquiry: using problem-based learning in information literacy instruction'

Carbery, Alan (2012) 'Information literacy through inquiry: using problem-based learning in information literacy instruction'. In: LILAC (Library Information Literacy Annual Conference) 2012, 11-12th April 2012, Caeldonian University. (Submitted)

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This paper presents the findings of an action research project, introducing problem-based information literacy (IL) instruction for final year undergraduate nursing and engineering students in Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland. This paper is based on a research dissertation written for an MA in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Much has been written about the role that information literacy has to play in problem-based learning (PBL) in higher education. Dodd (2007, p.214) states that the introduction of PBL has “increased the need for information skills”. The use of PBL in information literacy instruction, however, is not widely explored in the literature. Traditional PBL environments typically span a number of teaching sessions, possibly right throughout an entire module duration, and often require multiple facilitators. It is likely that PBL has not been utilised by teaching librarians because much of the IL instruction is still largely delivered as one-shot sessions. As a result of this, IL sessions are often facing heavy time constraints and librarians are often forced to cover a breadth of materials throughout this restrictive time-frame. Kenney (2008) believes using PBL in IL instruction “raises the instructional bar” and results in a lively and engaging learning environment (p. 387). Munro (2006) suggests making use of a “modified” approach to traditional PBL environment in library instruction. In this action research project, seven separate one-shot IL sessions (two engineering, five nursing) were delivered using PBL teaching approaches. Using triggers, or problems, students were asked to work in small teams and make use of the library’s resources to research the perceived topic. The sessions were delivered in three phases: 1. Brainstorm 2. Search 3. Present The librarian (also the author of this paper) acted as facilitator throughout the sessions, offering guidance and advice when needed, and directing the overall sessions. The results of this research project provide an interesting insight into using PBL in IL instruction. Using PBL allows the librarian to observe students in a quasi “real-life” research scenario, and how they cope with and approach literature searching. Kuhlthau et al (2007), describe six stages to information seeking throughout guided inquiry, and these stages can be identified in students engaged in PBL in these IL sessions. The use of PBL in IL instruction allows the librarian present students with opportunities to engage in transformative learning (Mezirow, 1997). Students throughout the sessions in this action research project appeared to undergo a shift in attitudes when actively challenged with a research trigger, which allowed the librarian to promote IL in a meaningful and contextual scenario. This paper also discusses some of the negative findings of this research project, such as time difficulties with using PBL in IL instruction, as well as the difficulties students who speak English as a foreign language faced. This paper is of interest to any teaching librarian wishing to introduce PBL into IL instruction in order to provide a highly engaging and challenging learning experience to students. Using PBL learning in IL instruction provides a unique opportunity to closely observe students and their information seeking habits, while presenting the librarian with an opportunity to introduce IL skills that will change students information seeking behaviours. References Dodd, L. (2007) ‘The impact of problem-based learning on the information behavior and literacy of veterinary medicine students at University College Dublin’, The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 33(2), pp. 206-216. Kenney, B.F. (2008) ‘Revitalizing the One-Shot Instruction Session Using Problem-Based Learning’, Reference & User Services Quarterly, 47(4), pp. 386-391. Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A. (2007) Guided Inquiry: learning in the 21st century. Connecticut, Libraries Unlimited. Mezirow, J. (1997) ‘Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice’, Adult and Continuing Education, (74), pp. 5-12. Munro, K. (2006) ‘Modified Problem-Based Library Instruction’, College & Undergraduate Libraries, 13(3), pp. 53-61.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Departments or Groups: *NONE OF THESE*
Divisions: Other Departments and Units > Library
Depositing User: Alan Carbery
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2012 19:16
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2016 10:26
URI: http://repository-testing.wit.ie/id/eprint/1776

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