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Ethics in information literacy education Susanne Holmlund, Marja Mikola, Olli Mäkinen Creating Knowledge V 20-22.8 2008 Ethics in the virtual world changes in the individual’s ethical understanding

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ethics in information literacy education

Ethics in information literacy education

Susanne Holmlund, Marja Mikola, Olli Mäkinen

Creating Knowledge V 20-22.8 2008

ethics in the virtual world
Ethics in the virtual world
  • changes in the individual’s ethical understanding
  • our ethical sensitivity has weakened, when we no longer meet our fellow men face to face
  • plagiarism and other types of unethical behaviour is ”easier”. Therefore ethics has an important position in the teaching of information literacy
plagiarism a serious problem
Plagiarism, a serious problem
  • Plagiarism is a serious problem in higher education. Essays and theses for purchase are easily found on the Internet
  • In Sweden cases related to plagiarism increased with 90% from 2002 to 2003. Plagiarism has become the most common cause for expulsion in higher education (Source: Report by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education 2004:17 (Sammanställning av beslut och domar i disciplinärenden som rör studerande vid universitet och högskolor från 2003)
  • Software that detects plagiarism
ethics in il standards
Ethics in IL Standards

Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

(American Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries)


3rd standardThe information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.


5th standardThe information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.

il in finland
IL in Finland

Council for University Libraries in Finland: Recommendations for IL in higher education:

  • New students: basics of the ethical use of information
  • Bachelor’s level students: Deeper insight into the ethical use of information


  • Academic library and learning centre combined
  • 3 universities
    • University of Vaasa
    • Swedish School of Economics and Business Adminisitration’s (Hanken) campus in Vaasa
    • Åbo Akademi University in Vaasa
  • Disciplines: Education, social sciences, caring science, technology, language studies
  • Information literacy education in 3 languages
il education at tritonia
IL education at Tritonia
  • 3 universities = 3 different organizational cultures and approaches to information literacy, 3 different curricula, 3 different licenses for electronic information resources
  • Tritonia aim to offer the same education in information literacy at all three universities, but in fact ends up arranging tailor-made courses and workshops for the different universities
  • Systematic education in information literacy for the students at the University of Vaasa was introduced in 2004
information literacy courses at university of vaasa
Information literacy courses at University of Vaasa
  • All students participate in two courses in information literacy
  • Course I (1 ECT)
  • Course II (1 ECT)
  • Participation:
    • Course I: 450 students/year
    • Course II: 350 students/year
  • Course in research ethics for doctoral students (3 ECT)
course 1
Course 1
  • Compulsory for all 1st year students
  • Pre-exam
  • Content, ethical issues: Plagiarism, research ethics, information and data protection, evaluating sources
  • Documents in the virtual learning environment Moodle
  • 1 workshop
  • Web-discussion on different ethical issues (e.g. plagiarism)
  • Online exam consisting of multiple choice questions, including questions covering ethical issues in information retrieval
course 2
Course 2
  • Compulsory for students writing their first seminar paper
  • Students are expected to already have attained critical thinking in regard to evaluating information and should now be able to use their skills in practice
  • Web course in Moodle + a introductory lecture
  • Content:
    • Html documents about retrieving academic information and ethical issues
    • Information retrieval assignment in which the students collect relevant and scholarly sources for their seminar paper
    • Online exam consisting of multiple choice questions, including questions covering ethical issues in information retrieval.
evaluation and development
Evaluation and development
  • the courses are continuously evaluated and developed
  • e-learning not be best option for studying ethical issues?
  • feedback given by the students
  • how develop the students’ critical thinking in relation to sources and information? Is one way to let them evaluate documents on different levels?
development and staff resources
Development and staff resources
  • Teaching and managing the courses ties up the staff considerably. Redirection and use of resources is a central and controversial issue
  • Could the student tutors (senior students) teach research ethics?
  • Assignments using e.g. wikis?
  • Course III, IL education for students at master’s level
  • Course 1 & 2 will be given in English as well next year…
feedback from students
Feedback from students
  • Course evaluation (is the course useful, interesting, the content appropriate)
  • Teacher evaluation (competence of the teacher, interaction between teacher and student, teaching methods. Relevance of assignments, teaching material)
  • Self evaluation (learning something new, learning something useful, participation)
  • Course arrangements (course information adequate, guidance, facilities and equipment)
  • The students could also give feed-back in their own words on what was good and bad about the course and on how it could be developed.
more feedback
More feedback…

”There is so many information sources on the Internet and it’s difficult to know which ones are reliable. The course has helped me to evaluate information. This is a very important course”

”The web discussion was useful and gave me the chance to discuss with others and hear their views on ethical matters”