Changing anatomies of Information Literacy at the postgraduate level: refinements of models and shifts in assessment


  • Sonja Spiranec
  • Mihaela Banek Zorica



In this paper, the authors will identify the fundamental principles that might inform an approach to Information Literacy (IL) on the postgraduate level, which takes into account following premises:

  1. the aims of postgraduate/doctoral studies are different in comparison to earlier educational levels and face specific challenges due to the heterogeneity of student populations
  2. IL frameworks have to acknowledge and address this challenge by adjusting to specific needs of postgraduate students who operate in new information realms
  3. new modes of assessment are needed as a result of revolutionary changes in information landscapes and patterns of generation or use of scientific information

Teaching students in the scientific method and culture has long been recognized as the major focus of postgraduate education. Postgraduate students are expected to develop inventories of scientific activities and abilities, such as the use of scientific inquiry processes to ask valid questions and to gather and analyze information, capacities to appraise and improve original ideas, to pursue ideas from genesis to proof and arguments, to defend and communicate ideas to peers and to the wider society. The basic precondition for the described practices is the adequate performance in the realm of information handling and information management, i.e., information literacy.

IL on postgraduate levels has a strong focus on the universe of scientific information, which itself went through tremendous changes in the last decade, particularily as a result of the appearance of the Web 2.0 (e.g. Science 2.0, Research 2.0). Innovative configurations of scientific discourses have become visible, resulting in the breakdown of traditional assumptions about scientific expertise and the conversion of rigid scientific processes to more open-ended processes of communication. Scientific information and knowledge are socially produced and distributed and scientific activities can no longer be conceived of as a schematic, linear or rules-driven process. Such profound changes suggest renewed conceptions and focal points of IL at the postgraduate level which will take into account the fluid nature of current information environments. New IL frameworks should acknowledge that it is not always possible to a priori determine the best information and resources to use or apply one valid strategy for solving a particular problem. IL programs should therefore move ahead by abandoning the limited present approach according to which there is only one right answer or path to this answer and instead offer insight into the variety of complex layers our current information universe consists of. Assessment models in IL should mirror this renewed IL conceptions as well, which basically implies the negation of the rubrics and checklist approach commonly associated with IL assessment models.

After discussing changes in information landscapes brought about the Web 2.0 and examining transformed premises of scientific work within such environments, the authors will plea for reconceptualizations of IL on the postgraduate level and propose new modes of assessment that will recognize this transformation.



How to Cite

Spiranec, S., & Zorica, M. B. (2010). Changing anatomies of Information Literacy at the postgraduate level: refinements of models and shifts in assessment. Nordic Journal of Information Literacy in Higher Education, 3(1).