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What do we teach them and what are they learning? Evaluation and assessment of the information literacy skills of science students


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Jones, SM, Barmuta, LA, Dermoudy, J, Magierowski, RH, Osborn, JE, Sargison, JE, Dearden, R, Evans, CE and Waters, D 2005 , 'What do we teach them and what are they learning? Evaluation and assessment of the information literacy skills of science students', paper presented at the UniServe Conference, 28-30/9/05, Sydney.

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Information literacy ‘enables learners to engage critically with content and extend their
investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning’
(Council of Australian University Librarians 2001). Such skills are, therefore, a key element of
undergraduate learning, a foundation for research activities, and a basis for lifelong learning within
the workplace. A number of key generic graduate attributes can collectively be described as
information literacy skills (ILS). These include:
• a capacity to recognise the need for information and determine the nature and extent of the
information needed;
• a capacity to access required information effectively and efficiently;
• the ability to evaluate information and its sources critically; and
• the ability to create new knowledge by integrating prior knowledge and new understandings.
The acquisition of such skills is an integral part of becoming a professional scientist, and there is
an increasing impetus to include more overt teaching of such skills within the undergraduate degree
(Parker 2003). It is acknowledged that the most effective learning outcomes occur when generic
skills are an integral part of teaching within the discipline and taught to all students in a structured
and progressive manner (Shapiro and Hughes 1996). Indeed, based on their own experiences of
teaching ILS within the School of Zoology at the University of Tasmania (UTas), Dearden, Jones,
Richardson and Barmuta (2004) have suggested that students’ acquisition of ILS should be
incremental, iterative, embedded and assessed, as also proposed by Lupton (2002). Yet how can we
determine what skills our students already possess, and at what level? And how can we best teach
and assess their learning of information skills within the context of our own discipline?

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Authors/Creators:Jones, SM and Barmuta, LA and Dermoudy, J and Magierowski, RH and Osborn, JE and Sargison, JE and Dearden, R and Evans, CE and Waters, D
Additional Information:

© 2005 Susan M. Jones, Leon Barmuta, Julian Dermoudy, Regina Magierowski, Jon Osborn,
Jane Sargison, Richard Dearden, Christine Evans, David Waters.

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