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Recent LILAC 2010 Presentation titled “An Investigation of the Information Literacy Instruction Practices, Attitudes and Knowledge of University Faculty: Findings and Recommendations Based on Survey and Interview Research at York University”

I was recently privileged enough to be able to attend LILAC (Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference)  for the first time. This is the 6th time this conference has taken place and it is basically the big British/Irish conference event for librarians and information professionals interested in information literacy or “information skills”, a term which seems to be quite commonly used interchangeably with “information literacy” in the U.K. and Ireland.

I was told that about 300 librarians attended this year and that a larger number were international delegates than ever before with a total of 19 different countries represented. I found it extremely impressive and inspiring to learn that LILAC basically evolved because two librarians saw a need for this type of conference and then made it happen. Those two librarians are Debbi Boden, Director of Library Services, Saltire Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University and Jane Secker, Learning Technology Librarian (see her blog Social Software Libraries and E-Learning) at the London School of Economics. Today LILAC is organized by CILIP’s Information Literacy Group but basically every year some eight people man a committee which seems super efficient and professional and they just ensure that LILAC gets organized and run well and that an appealing programme is put together. I was struck by how full the programme was and I liked the fact that the sessions ran 45 minutes at most. This meant that you learned a lot about many different projects and initiatives and personally I found I got more out of it than at conferences where sessions run longer but there are fewer of them.

Here’s the title, abstract, and link to the slides for the long paper (45 minutes) I gave at LILAC 2010 on March 29th. Note that the conference organizers request quite lengthy abstracts. It was attended by about 70-80 librarians and there was a Q&A afterwards. I was glad to see such an interest in this topic area and I hope this may strengthen my network of librarian colleagues who share this research interest of mine.

Title: An Investigation of the information literacy instruction practices, attitudes and knowledge of university faculty: findings and recommendations based on survey and interview research at York University.

Conference Presentation (slides)


This session will provide a critical review of key results from research conducted with full-time faculty in a wide range of disciplines at York University, Toronto. Findings regarding faculty perceptions of the meaning and value of information literacy instruction will be shared, in addition to results, shedding light on faculty behaviours and beliefs, when it comes to the practice of information literacy.

Results obtained and recommendations made are based on a two-stage research process. Survey research formed the focus in stage one, and interview research (involving a semi-structured interview approach), allowing more in-depth investigation of selected issues, was the research method adopted in stage two.

Relevant disciplinary differences will be outlined, with a focus on comparison of results between the Science and Engineering disciplines, the Social Sciences and Humanities disciplines, and the Professional disciplines. The session will also examine the extent to which the findings of this study either corroborate or differ from results of similar studies uncovered by a recent review of the Library and Information Studies literature.

The session will begin by exploring faculty perceptions of the meaning of information literacy and the importance of information literacy instruction in fostering information literacy competencies. Faculty views on the relative importance of instruction in different information literacy skills areas in higher-level education are also summarised. Faculty perceptions and experiences of information literacy competency levels among their students will be discussed. Faculty opinions of student skill levels at different stages will be highlighted, i.e., lower level undergraduate students, higher level undergraduate students, and postgraduate students.

Results indicating the approaches typically adopted by faculty to engage students and motivate them to learn information literacy competencies are shared. The role of the research assignment in fostering information literacy competencies, in faculty’s estimation, will be discussed.  Findings regarding levels of faculty engagement in teaching information literacy competencies, either by themselves or in collaboration with a librarian, will also be summarized. Results will also be highlighted regarding the nature of information literacy instruction typically incorporated within the classroom by faculty, the amount of time typically allocated to this instruction, as well as their general experiences and estimation of it.

Survey results showed that the number of faculty, who opt not to incorporate information literacy instruction within their classrooms, is nearly equal to the number who do. Therefore, examination of the reasons for the non-adoption of information literacy was critical in this study and key findings from both survey and interview research will be highlighted.

Finally, faculty beliefs regarding appropriate roles, formats, pedagogies and methods for the effective teaching and learning of information literacy competencies will also be shared. Faculty views on how information literacy instruction might be more effectively promoted at York University will also be discussed.

Based on this survey and interview research, the speaker’s summary of implications for practice and research will be shared.

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