PurposeThe study investigates faculty conceptions of information literacy (IL) in a digital information landscape by examining faculty definitions of information literacy in the context of undergraduate education, as well as faculty perceptions of, and expectations for, undergraduate IL knowledge and abilities.Design/methodology/approachThis is a qualitative research study with 24 semi-structured interviews of faculty in different disciplines at a large public research university in Toronto, Ontario.FindingsFaculty view IL as fundamentally intertwined with other academic literacies and as central for the successful pursuit of much undergraduate academic research work including developing autonomous, engaged learners. Faculty place special emphasis on fostering higher-order cognitive skills, especially developing a questioning disposition, and the ability to evaluate, contextualize and synthesize information sources. Faculty see considerable scope for improvement of undergraduate IL capabilities, and a large majority see a role for themselves and librarians here. Practical implicationsFindings of this and other studies align well with core elements in the new IL guidelines and frameworks for higher education both in North America and the United Kingdom. This includes highlighting a need for a strong faculty role in shaping IL in higher education in the future, a need for a holistic lens in developing multiple academic literacies, an emphasis on high-order cognitive abilities, and a recognition of the importance of affective dimensions of learning information literacy.Originality/valueThis paper fills a gap in the literature where there is an absence of studies, especially of a qualitative nature, which explore faculty conceptions of information literacy. A majority of studies published focus instead on librarian conceptions and practice.
Reference Services Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 8, 2016
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