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Information Literacy & Interest – Keeping Undergraduates Using IL Skills

By Karen Sobel, EdD

The research project behind “Motivating Factors for the Transfer of Information Literacy Skills among Undergraduates” had several…motivating factors…behind it. When I began the study, I had worked as an instruction librarian for over 10 years and had also taught a first-year seminar (FYS) incorporating information literacy (IL) skills for five semesters. As a teacher and librarian, I wanted to investigate strategies that encouraged students to continue to use IL skills. 

I connected with students one semester after they took a FYS course incorporating IL skills. Participants completed a survey where they self-reported motivating factors for continuing to use these skills. I asked them to submit an assignment written for a course taken since the seminar to assess application of IL. I evaluated prevalence of specific motivations and looked for correlations with performance. 

What did I learn?

This study gave me a more nuanced sense of how encouraging students to follow their interests in their scholarly work motivated them to use IL. I dove deep into concepts of educational psychology under Dr. Patty Meek (emerita). Among many other things, I learned about the ways in which people can be “interested” in a topic and how specific types of interest affect learning. I also learned how different types of motivation affect students’ decisions on whether to continue using an academic behavior.

What implications does this have for classroom practice?

Four recommendations emerged:

Recommendation 1: Students of all performance levels share motivating factors.

Recommendation 2: Students engage with career-related applications of IL.

Recommendation 3: Students engage with fact checking and examining “the truth behind” media stories and big ideas.

Recommendation 4: Students may benefit from coaching on use of IL.

Why do I care about this?

I want to help students build strong, lasting IL practices.

Read the full TLI article here.

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