Apr 15 2009
LILAC 2009 – Information literacy and transition: school and higher education
Transition is an area of interest to the project and I attended a couple of parallel session related to this topic
Michelle Schneider, University of Leeds – Reach for Excellence: Information Literacy supports widening participation
This scheme supports academically able young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, who for a variety of reasons feel higher education is out of their reach. It gives year 12 and 13 students residing in Yorkshire a taster of the social life, as well as offering guidance and advice in actually gaining a place to university. The students have to apply and some of the criteria for eligibility e.g. first one in family to go to university; on benefits. The programme run by the universities Access and Communication Service offers:
· Subject specific taster sessions
· Impartial pre-entry guidance
· 5 day residential summer school
· Study skills workshops (this is where the library and information literacy fits in).
The library became involved as they saw it as; an opportunity to further their commitment to widening participation; a great way to introduce essential information literacy skills, an opportunity to gauge current skills and knowledge of students before they get to university. For the first workshops in 2007 they designed a 2hr workshop looking at research skills and academic literature (where it comes from, what to look for and evaluate it), referencing (showing your sources and avoiding plagiarism). To get a sense of what they were doing, they got the students to think about the last time they researched a piece of college work and to write down which resources they used to find the information and why did they use them. Not surprisingly Wikipedia and Google were most used. They looked at where knowledge comes from and journal articles were discussed as many of the students hadn’t heard about journals. When looking at evaluating information on the web the librarian showed how easy it is to change an entry in Wikipedia – this surprised the students and was a really useful exercise which I’m sure others could use both in schools, colleges and universities. For plagiarism they used a plagiarism pub quiz with teams and prizes which went down well.
In 2008/09 they changed the workshop and introduced an icebreaker where the students said what they expected to find in a library and then given the chance to go to the library and ‘find and seek’ – given an adapted floor plan and 12 questions instead of a tour. This was really enjoyed by the students, giving them a sense of how an academic library runs and encouraged them to use their library cards after the session as it was now less intimidating.
From comments from the students, they did learn that – the library wasn’t as daunting as they thought, evaluate, not to always trust Wikipedia, not all websites are reliable, the existence of Google Scholar. The librarians learnt a snapshot of pre-university student skills and used that knowledge in staff development training sessions and shared it with other colleagues to inform student induction sessions. Also that it was useful to work with other departments to further their commitment to widening participation.
Whilst this type of activity may not be new – Birmingham are running similar schemes but the students came with their teacher or school librarian there are some useful techniques that others could use.
More on this area later.