Good Practice Case Study
Integrating Information Literacy into Curriculum - Academic Services Division, Faculty of Informatics
Contributed by: Holly Tootell, Faculty Informatics and Annette Meldrum, Faculty Librarian, Informatics
This case describes how an Informatics subject has integrated information literacy skills into its curriculum assessment practice. It describes the role information literacies have in student learning and the importance of ensuring the literacies are aligned with subject content and assessment. This work was the result of a collaboration between Academic and Faculty Librarian.
To assist students, in particular newly arrived international students adjust to new expectations of higher education practice in Australia and to support the integration of the Graduate Attributes into the curricula. The large class size and increasing diversity of students in IACT201 necessitated helping students make the critical connection between understanding content and developing academic skills. Information Technology students tend to consider themselves, highly computer literate but fail to recognise that they are information illiterate and assume that they can intuitively discover how to use the systems unassisted. Student feedback in 2002 suggested that the information literacy activities be integrated into the subject in a more seamless manner.
IACT201 Information Technology and Citizens` Rights, is a compulsory subject offered by the School of Information Technology and Computer Science at the University of Wollongong. The subject caters for approximately 300 students at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The project attempted to integrate an information literacy structure where learning is embedded within the discipline specific subject curriculum promoting the `interdependence of information, technology and academic literacy`. This was of major importance as many of these students come from diverse backgrounds. They included many international students and for some postgraduate students, this subject was their first experience of study in Australia.
Information literacy activities focused on three major areas: research and evaluation of research sources with fair and accurate referencing; critical thinking and essay writing. Students learnt to critique, analyse, evaluate and modify their writing.
The changed assessment was documented as a best practice example of Graduate Attribute 5 `ability to logically analyse issues, consider different options and view points and implement decisions`. This formed part of a project funded by a 2003 Collaborative Grant from the University of Wollongong Educational Strategies Development Fund, `Developing the Attributes of a Wollongong Graduate`.
Improved familiarisation with information literacy skills was reflected in the higher average mark in the second assessment task. Students were more confident in their approach to the task and displayed increased competency in their ability to find suitable information.
Analysis of results
Student testimonials reveal the success of the program:
- ` [There was] excellent inclusion of relevant … and effective workbook ideas`
- `The workbook I think was a good idea. It clearly helps students understand basic writing formats. The work we do on essay and report writing ... is priceless`
What was done?
- Until 2003, information literacy activities had been presented separate to the subject material. Responding to student feedback
- A workbook model was adopted to bring together the integration of information literacy skills and subject content which included: lecture material, tutorial activities that comprised of readings, class exercised and information literacy activities.
- Information literacy activities focused on three major areas: research and evaluation of research sources with fair and accurate referencing; critical thinking and essay writing. This approach was designed to allow students to develop the skills to critique, analyse and modify their writing and to continually develop their skill and knowledge
- In consultation with Learning Development and the Faculty Librarian, information literacy activities were integrated into the assessment tasks.
- Library presentations within lectures were scheduled to strategically align with assignment preparation dates. These lectures were also audio-taped for delivery to the South Coast Campus students. Copies of Power Point presentations were loaded onto the University`s Online Learning Platform, WebCT. The Shoalhaven Campus Librarian offered the students short library tutorials mirroring the Wollongong Campus lecture presentations.
- Multiple choice quizzes and activities were developed collaboratively to reinforce the training and to develop familiarity with resources. Library activities included: writing annotated bibliographies using academic journal articles from the resources demonstrated and the inclusion of print outs showing search strategies.
- These assessment tasks attracted marks and were due the week after presentation.
- Formative evaluation was provided by tutors on the assessment sheet.
- In the lecture, summary statistics where shown to allow students to gauge their performance across the enrolment.
- Students participated in guided reflection activities in tutorials giving them the opportunity to reflect on the formative evaluation and identify areas for improvement. For most students this was an opportunity to see the importance of correct referencing, writing structure and flow of ideas.
- The approach and implementation process was repeated for the second assessment task.
- Student feedback revealed increased confidence. The average mark for the assessment tasks improved from 68% in essay 1 to73% in essay 2.
2002 - first phase of subject review was undertaken to align assessment and information literacy components
2003 - IACT201 revised to integrate assessable information literacy components
2004 - Information literacy activities integrated into the assessment tasks including: lecture content, assessment quizzes and comprehensive tutorial activities
Critical success factors:
- Cannot emphasise enough the value and benefit of integration of information literacy.
- To meet the challenges of assessment for a large class, clear assessment criteria must be communicated to students and tutors. This was aided through the use of assessment sheets including keys for ratings, articulating what was to be assessed and how marks would be assigned.
- User feedback is essential to assess satisfaction and success of the program.
- Collaboration with tertiary literacy professionals, e.g. Library and Learning Development
Review and improvement:
In 2002, the first phase of a subject review was undertaken to align assessment and information literacy components. In consultation with Learning Development Lecturers and the Faculty Librarian, information literacy activities were integrated into the assessment tasks. This was further expanded in 2004 to include lecture content, assessment quizzes and comprehensive tutorial activities that involve student interaction with information literacy activities. This variety of assessment tasks enabled the assessment of learning at varying levels and promoted a wider experience of both generic and discipline-specific skills
Areas have been identified for ongoing improvement in 2005. It is intended to strengthen relationship between information literacy and assessment in lecture material, associated tasks and assessment criteria.
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