This paper reports the findings of the research project that was carried out within open and distance learning universities in Europe. The research problem for this study focused on the need to know how information-related competencies were developed in European higher open and distance learning institutions. The general research strategy in this study was a mixed method research strategy, using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, built into a two-stage research design. A survey provided a broad picture of a phenomenon, and case studies covered a more limited area of the same ground but in more depth.
Thus, the first stage was a small-scale questionnaire survey, with a structured questionnaire using a purposive sample, which was analysed using statistical techniques. The objectives of the questionnaire were to determine the extent and the ways to which information-related competencies were developed within European higher open and distance learning institutions, to investigate the role of libraries within the development of information-related competencies and to identify examples of ‘good practice’ in the field of information-related competencies in European higher open and distance learning institutions. The second stage of the study involved a multiple case study in 6 European open and distance learning institutions, where in-depth, semi-structured, tape-recorded interviews with 72 people were conducted which were supported by an unstructured non-participant observation and fieldwork and document analysis. In this part of the study the researcher was trying to discover what people actually did in practice to develop information-related competencies, how they experienced those processes and made sense of it.
The research results will contribute to the development of open and distance learning courses with library and information literacy support, that would improve students’ information-related competencies, and also to the Bologna aims of competence development and professional development in a context of lifelong learning.
Copyright (c) 2011 Sirje Virkus
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