This paper presents the findings of recent research at Hedmark University of Applied Sciences (HUAS) in Norway. Information literacy (IL) skills of first-year nursing and teacher education students were documented twice during their first year:
- early in the first semester, before the library’s IL-instruction
- after both library instruction and the submission of a paper in which students had use for course material
All new students at HUAS attend two IL-classes from the library: “Searching for information” and “Evaluating and citing sources,” where students learn to:
- critically evaluate sources
- avoid plagiarism
- cite sources
Research questions in this study were designed to best reflect the content of the second library course, and did not address search skills. Questions in the pre- and post-surveys were nearly identical, making it possible to compare results and determine whether or not IL-skills had improved after the combination of library instruction and academic writing. The intention of the post-survey was not to measure short-term memory of library instruction, but rather to see what information students retained after writing a paper which required them to evaluate and cite sources and avoid plagiarism.
The largest faculties at HUAS are nursing and teacher education, and this research focuses exclusively on students in these professional studies. Before-and-after results, measuring students’ self-assessments and their actual IL-skills, were analyzed to determine whether or not there are significant differences between student groups.
Results show a substantial increase in IL-skills for both student groups in all three topics: evaluating sources, avoiding plagiarism, and citing sources. Although there were only small differences between their skills, self-assessments differed significantly, with nursing students showing more confidence in their abilities than teacher education students. Another difference between student groups is that nursing students believe more often than teacher education students that the sources of easily found facts must be cited in academic work, although this is not necessary.
Copyright (c) 2016 Ellen Nierenberg
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