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How can we
raise information literacy levels
in a secondary school?
Dr. Carol Webb FCLIP
Forest Hill School
• Practitioner research
• Exploring teacher perspective
• What does it mean to be information literate and is it changing in the new
• How can librarians and teachers work together to raise information
• What is the role of the librarian in raising information literacy in the school
for both teachers and students?
• What is the understanding among teachers of the importance of
information literacy and of the role librarians can perform in the teaching
and learning of this subject?
– The meaning of IL is contingent on the context in
which the skills are being deployed.
• Information Literacy Capacity
• Role of the librarian
• Secondary school setting + small in scale
• Participant researcher
• Respondents’ validation
• Twelve teacher voices – a range of age,
experience and subject specialisms
– With and without experience of working with the
• Information has a specific role in a subject
• It is understood and its use taught, through that
subject lens, by the teacher.
inquiry + cognitive
authority open to question
IL Teaching Styles
Conceptual outcome 1:
The meaning of information literacy
• In History: ‘…although the skills are transferable
they’re not identical and we do want to emphasise
different… The importance of one skill in history might
far outweigh another.’
• In Science: ‘the ability of students to look at
information in a range of formats, text, tables and graphs
and to construct meaning…’
• In Art: ‘It would be an emotional response…I’m
interested in not going to the text because we’re
visual…the information, it dictates our responses and our
Conceptual outcome 2:
Instrument – Information Literacy Capacity
Capacity Learner Attainment Characteristics Ability Teacher Role
self-awareness as a
Critical thinking, tests
methods and consciously
Adapts and integrates for own use
and articulates personal impact
and has coping strategies
technique and shows critical
Confident in making choices and
Adapts skills to different
Understands differences Discusses principles/rules for
different subject contexts
examining use in other
Awareness of transfer Connects with previous
Needs prompting and support to
make explicit link to other
Guide practice using
knowledge of work in
A trained behaviour Knowledge of resource
e.g. a dictionary
No transfer, personal selection or
(Bloom and Krathwohl 1956; Nisbet and Shucksmith 1986; Perkins and Salomon 1989; Beyer 1997; Limberg 2007)
Transfer of Learning
• “low road” and “high road” (Perkins and Salomon 1989,
• Elements need to be examined and their
applicability in other contexts explored (Nisbet and
Shucksmith 1986, p.21)
• Practice these skills in “ever-widening variety
of contexts” (Beyer 1997 p.272)
Transfer of learning
Current strategies include:
• Modelling (Teacher A and C);
• Cross-curricular teaching of a topic (Teacher D);
• Discussion to make links between use in different subjects (Teacher
• Consistent use of language by teachers in one department team
• Only the latter had been monitored for effectiveness.
• No widespread recognition of strategies and little is
– A limited knowledge of how the deployment of a
skill changes from one subject area to another.
Overview of factual findings
• Progress to greater capacity complicated by
– low teacher awareness of IL
– Constraints of time, curriculum priorities and
academic monitoring requirements
• Knowledge and strategies needed for teaching
transfer of learning not widespread.
• Teaching of search (library context) is almost entirely
absent from subject teaching.
Teacher Perspective: Librarian Role
• The librarian’s role in resourcing the curriculum is
valued for the way
• it supports teachers,
• provides students with many more information-handling
• and opens up the cognitive authority of knowledge to
• Role of the library in a school setting is valued for
• the support it gives students outside of lesson times and
• how it helps student develop their reading to underpin
wider literacy skills.
Teacher Perspective: Librarian Role
Teachers value the librarian’s teaching role
• their knowledge and skills improve the quality
of student outcomes;
• if they have a knowledge of student needs for
• are able to activate prior learning;
• and employ some of the subject specific
language in support of the teacher’s goals.
Continuum for Librarian’s
Collaboration Role with Teachers
Counselor Tutor Instructor Lecturer Organiser
(Montiel-Overall 2005; Kuhlthau 1993)
Complications of field
• Low confidence of librarians in teaching role
(Streatfield, Shaper and Rae-Scott 2010)
• Absence of empirically tested pedagogy used
in schools relating to information literacy,
– Synthesis and Assessment
Implications for librarians
• Teaching needs to be subject situated and task relevant.
• Librarians need knowledge of: differentiation; student
understanding of skill/topic; task objective; subject specific
language; assessment criteria; resources.
• Awareness of principles and rules for deployment of skills
in different subject areas.
• Need to re-conceptualise search: intellectual Vs mechanics.
• Librarian roles of resourcing and developing readers in
relation to questioning cognitive authority of knowledge.
• Wider profession needs to develop a vision of IL that
reflects a multiplicity of contexts (other than library)
enabling other communities to find resonance with their
• Uses and responses to Table for IL Capacity
• Need to empirically test pedagogy
• Identify action images for disseminating
• Study deployment of IL skills in different
subject contexts to identify principles and
• Re-conceptualise Search
Beyer, B. (1997) Improving student thinking: a cognitive approach. Needham
Heights: Allyn & Bacon.
Bloom, B. S. and Krathwohl, D.A. (1956) Taxonomy of educational objects. Vols
1 & 2. London: Green & Co Ltd.
Kuhlthau, C.C. (1993) Seeking meaning: a process approach to library and
information services. Westport, Connecticut: Ablex Publishing.
Limberg, L. (2007) ‘Learning assignment as task in information seeking
research’, Information Research, 12 (4), pp.1-11.
Montiel-Overall, P. (2005) ‘A theoretical understanding of teacher and
librarian collaboration (TLC)’, School Libraries Worldwide, 11 (2), pp.24-48.
Nisbet, J. and Shucksmith, J. (1986) Learning strategies. London: Routledge.
Perkins, D. N. and Salomon, G. (1989) ‘Are cognitive skills context-bound?’
Educational Researcher, 18 (1) pp.16-25.
Streatfield, D., Shaper, S. and Rae-Scott, S. (2010) School libraries in the UK: a
worthwhile past, a difficult present – and a transformed future? Main Report
of the UK Survey. [Online]. Available at http://www.informat.org/slpsurvey/
(Accessed: 20 December 2012).