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The Relational Approach to Information Literacy
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  1. The Relational Approach to Information Literacy Stewart Green

  2. Presentation Structure • What is the relational approach? • How can the relational approach inform the teaching of information literacy? • Open questions Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  3. Sources of Information • The Seven Faces of Information Literacy, C. Bruce, Adelaide, Auslib Press, 1997 • Bruce investigates contemporary conceptions of the information literacy concept and discusses the impact each has had on ideas about how to teach and research information literacy. She goes on to present a new approach to information literacy called the relational approach, and then discusses its implications for teaching and research. The new approach is based upon an underpinning philosophical perspective called phenomenography; this focuses on all three of a subject (e.g. information user), object (e.g. information literacy) and the relationships between them • The Relational Approach: A New Model for Information Literacy, C. Bruce, The New review of Information and Library Research, 1997 • This paper provides an introduction to the relational approach to information literacy and discusses some possible implications for information literacy research Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  4. Part 1 • What is the Relational Approach Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  5. Derivation • The relational approach is derived from phenomenography (Marton, Instructional Science, 10, 1981) • Focuses upon relationships between subject and object • In this case between users and information literacy • Each different distinct relationship is termed a conception • Bruce identified 7 conceptions of information literacy from an empirical study of experienced users of information (HE academics) • Individuals vary in the extent to which they exhibit competence in any conception area Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  6. Seven Conceptions of Information Literacy • The information technology conception • The information sources conception • The information process conception • The information control conception • The knowledge construction conception • The knowledge extension conception • The wisdom conception Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  7. The Information Technology Conception • Information literacy is seen as using IT for information retrieval and communication • Experience of information literacy is dependent upon availability and usability of IT • IT information literacy can be experienced if one is a member of a community which supports the use of technology Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  8. The Information Sources Conception • Information literacy is seen as finding information located in information sources • Information literacy is experienced in terms of knowledge of sources of information and an ability to assess these independently or via an intermediary Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  9. The Information Process Conception • Information literacy is seen as executing a process • IL is seen in terms of the ability to implement information processes • Information literacy people can recognise a need for information and use the information that they access to meet the need • Needs are normally stated in terms of either problem solving or decision making Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  10. The Information Control Conception • Information literacy is seen as controlling information • Tools for control: • Filing cabinet • Brain • Electronic databases • Information literate people are those who can use various media to bring information within their sphere of influence so that they can retrieve and manipulate it where necessary Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  11. The Knowledge Construction Conception • Information literacy is seen as building up a personal knowledge base in a new area of interest • Focus of attention is information use • Characterised by: • Building the knowledge base • Critical analysis • The information literate person can use strategies which, when accompanied by critical analysis or reflection, allow personal perspectives to be adopted Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  12. The Knowledge Extension Conception • Information literacy is seen as working with knowledge and personal perspectives adopted in such a way that novel insights are gained • Focus is upon information use • Knowledge base enhanced by scholarship and experience PLUS creative insight LEADS (hopefully) TO new ideas and solutions • The information literate person relies heavily upon knowledge, experience, and insight in order to use information creatively and produce new knowledge Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  13. The Wisdom Conception • Information literacy is seen as using information wisely for the benefit of others • Focus is information use • Enhanced knowledge base PLUS values LEADS TO (hopefully) wise use of information (presumably depends upon the values and the knowledge base?) Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  14. Part 2 • How Can the Relational Approach Inform the Teaching of Information Literacy Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  15. Learning • How is learning conceived in phenomenography? • “a change of one conception, or way of experiencing a phenomenon, to another” (presumably more preferred way) (Dall’Alba, Phenomenographic Research, 1992) • “information literacy education is seen as learning to conceive of effective information use, i.e. information literacy, in new and increasingly sophisticated ways” (Bruce, 7 Faces) Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  16. Differences from the Information Skills Approach • Emphasis is on conceptions and experience not on the skills and attributes of individuals • So: • “ways of thinking about what it means to use information effectively are more fundamental than skills and knowledge” • “students will learn skills and knowledge within a broader framework of learning to conceive of effective use of information in different ways” • “the information literate person is one who experiences IL in a range of ways, and is able to determine the nature of the experience it is necessary to draw upon in new situations” (Bruce, 7 Faces) Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  17. Learning Outcomes • The relational approach leads to two possible ways of conceiving learning outcomes • Emphasis on the conceptions • Emphasis on the range of conceptions Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  18. Emphasis on the Conceptions • The student will be able to: • LO1: Use IT for information retrieval and communication • LO2: Build a personal knowledge base in a new area of interest • LO3: Work with knowledge and personal perspectives in such a way that new insights are gained • Etc. (Bruce, 7 Faces) Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  19. Emphasis On The Range Of Conceptions • The student will be able to: • LO1: Conceive of information literacy in a variety of ways • LO2: Use information effectively in a range of contexts • LO3: Discern the ways of thinking about effective information use which apply to new information problems they encounter • LO4:Conceive of information as subjective and transformational in character • LO5: Appreciate the socially distributed nature of information literacy (Bruce, 7Faces) Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  20. Teaching: • Goal: helping students to conceive of and experience information literacy in the full range of ways • Approach: • Not about transmitting and discussing information literacy in lectures and tutorials • More about getting students to achieve insight into their current conceptions and to experience directly other conceptions Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  21. Teaching: Strategies • Identify how groups of students currently conceive of, or experience, information literacy • Help students to become aware of their existing repertoire of conceptions • Help students to become aware of the full range of conceptions • Help students to focus upon a few critical issues and see how they interrelate • Create learning experiences (activities) that focus students’ attention upon different ways of experiencing information literacy Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  22. Part 3 • OpenQuestions Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  23. Questions on the Relational Approach • Relational Approach • How can we ensure that students learn to conceive of IL in new ways? • How can we encourage students to focus upon information use not IT? • How should different conceptions be valued in different contexts? • How can less well represented conceptions be emphasised? • How can students way of thinking about information be influenced? (Bruce, 7 faces) Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  24. More Questions on the Relational Approach • Which formulation of learning outcomes is best, the conception formulation, or the range of conceptions formulation? • What nitty gritty methods (activities?) might be used to implement the teaching strategies identified earlier? Information Literacy at UWE Workshop

  25. Questions for the Skills and Relational Approaches • What are the differences, similarities and points of contact between the relational and skills approaches? • How should a chosen approach be delivered in a programme: • The whole approach in every module? • Rationally determined fragments of a whole approach in each core module at each level E.g. level 1: information finding in some/most/all core modules vs level 3: information extension in some/most/all core modules • Other combinations? • Whatever approach, how can library and academic staff best employ their different, but overlapping competences, to help to develop information literacy provision for students? • What kind of staff training, if any, should be introduced? Information Literacy at UWE Workshop