Students’ information literacy

Posted: January 15, 2012 in Uncategorized
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While reading tweets, I stumbled upon a YouTube channel of “Project Information Literacy”. I would like to pay your attention to series of five videos they offer on a questions “What does it mean to be a student in the digital age?”

How do students use Wikipedia during their course-related research activities?

What do students say about procrastination and carrying out course-related research in the digital age?

What do students say about frustrations in conducting research in the digital age?

What do students say about their information-seeking and research strategies?

What do students say about their need for contextual information?

The reason why I found those videos eye-catching is the fact I wrote a Bachelor’s thesis on the same subject – information literacy. It’s amazing how the findings stated in the videos relate to Carol Collier Kuhlthau’s model of the Information Search Process. And I was wondering would I do my research in the same way if I would have used social media back then.

The other theory I used for my research was David A. Kolb’s Experimental Learning Theory. The central principle of his theory was a ‘cycle of learning’ (doing → feeling → watching → thinking) that includes four learning styles: diverging (feel & watch), assimilating (think & watch), converging (think & do) and accommodating (feel & do). The belonging to one or another learning style depends on your approach to the tasks or experience and the way you emotionally transform the experience. I did a test and it appeared that I’m in the middle of assimilating and converging learning style. As you may noticed, I found Kolb’s study interesting enough, so I used the international interlibrary loan system to order his book “Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development” (1984) from Finland. 😀

I used the concept of the learning styles to discover do the student’s learning style affect his/her information search process. After doing tests (12 self-estimating questions), observation on electronic information search process and having structured interviews, I found out that one person can have two or even all learning styles. The observation part was the most exciting cause I had a chance to record students’ electronic information search process and observe their reaction while searching information. Every student had the same assignment and they could use the same electronic resources (OPAC, full-text article data base or Google). I took notes on electronic resources they selected, search techniques they used, time spent on searching, reactions and questions they tried to ask. I have really cute diagrams that show every step they made. But in short, the results showed that students who apply converging and/or assimilating learning style were better than students who apply diverging and/or accommodating learning style. Now I wish I could do this research on even more people to be sure was it only a coincidence or not.

By doing a literature review I also found a connection between the learning style and the temperament type – choleric, melancholic, sanguine, phlegmatic. If the connection between the learning style and the temperament is true, then in accordance with my study sanguine and/or phlegmatic individuals are better at information search than choleric and/or melancholic. That raises a question does and how much the temperament can affect our success in information search?

Well I want to finish on something more easy-sounding. So here it goes. In accordance with Douglas Duncan people who use on of the four learning styles can be called as social comfort learners (diverging style), fact oriented learners (assimilating style), devil’s advocate learners (converging style), and hand’s on learner (accommodating style). So who of them could be you?


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