Addressing information literacy collaboratively (FELT Conference Poster)

By Matt Cornock

Innovations and Collaborations in Information Literacy and Academic Skills. Poster for University of York Forum for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching Conference, 25 May 2011

Matt Cornock (SPSW) with Sue Cumberpatch (University Library and Archives), Robert Gunn (Social Work) and Katy Mann (ASO)

Sumbitted abstract

This poster presentation will summarise how close collaboration between the Library and two academic Departments has resulted in approaches which engage students in the use of the Library and in developing information literacy skills. It will also showcase how the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, in addition, has collaborated with the Academic Support Office to provide a tailored approach to academic skills development.

We will present a case study of an academic skills supplementary course for BA Social Work first year students, designed by the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, ASO and University Library. In the development of the course, which starts with a session on finding resources, we were keen to challenge the assumptions that students ‘instinctively’ know how to find information online, with our driving message that ‘Google alone is not enough.’ Building on a foundation of information literacy, we included academic writing training and the academic integrity tutorial. This course of academic skills development is particularly important for the Social Work programme due to the varied academic and work backgrounds of incoming students, with the aim to build students’ confidence in information literacy, writing and academic practice. We are able to present data showing students’ increase in confidence and how they responded to the approach we took.

The online reading list system, EARL, has been extensively rolled out in Social Policy and Sociology to facilitate improved use of Library resources. The implementation of EARL in Social Policy was funded by the Elearning Development Fund. After further feedback is sought from Social Policy, we hope to present responses from students and staff on their perceptions of EARL, in particular how the system has facilitated student engagement of the resources available and whether this has encouraged, or not, finding resources ‘beyond the reading list.’

In Sociology, students were exposed to hands-on activities with University Library systems. Of particular note is the use of ‘dummy’ catalogue records to enable students to practice using the Key Texts Booking and Request tools. Promoting the use of such tools as pragmatic solutions to obtaining resources and encouraging planning in the use of resources is essential in managing student expectations of the Library, which stem from balancing the students’ requirements to access reading list items against what is feasible in terms of the number of books available.

Along similar lines of managing expectations, in both Sociology and Social Policy students are asked to provide feedback in their third year on Library services. The Library follows up on the survey and completes the feedback cycle by responding and providing practical advice on common problems. The survey is also an opportunity for the Library to reiterate what services it provides, beyond the physical building. We will draw on NSS Library results from Sociology in support of this approach of managing expectations.

Our key messages will be on: integration of information literacy within an academic context, provision of easy access to resources through EARL, management of expectations of Library services which foster engagement.

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