ABSTRACT This article reports on a project, involving three New Zealand schools, which investigated teachers’ understanding of information

literacy and their associated classroom practices. Recently published work, while lamenting schools ‘students lack of information literacy skills, including working with online resources, provides little research investigating classroom teachers’ knowledge of information literacy skills and their related pedagogical practice. The findings of this project indicate that while some of the teachers in this project had a reasonably good understanding of the concept of information literacy, very few reported developing their students’ information literacy skills. Keywords: Information literacy Lifelong learning Improving classroom practice Pedagogical issues Teaching/learning strategies

evaluation of online and printed material. both from Australia. defining informaton literacy can be problematic as there are different ways of understanding the concept (Bruce. such as question formation. (2004) and Cass (2004). There is increasing recognition of the need to teach such skills explicitly. 2008) but ‘‘must be taught rigorously” (Bruce. synthesis of information and methods of presentation are generic and can be used across many areas of school curricula at all levels. brainstorming. 2000. and use effectively the needed . 2001. Ministry of Education. Doyle.1. Walraven et al. use of search engines and databases. Until about ten years ago. 2002.1 Information Literacy The recent. 2008). evaluate. Information literacy development was not addressed in any other arena. Australian School Library Association. 286). 1999. Education Review Office. journal articles reporting on the levels of information literacy skills in school students were largely written by tertiary librarians or academics in tertiary library and information faculties (Bruce. 1994. 76) and that the acquisition of such skills cannot be assumed to happen as some teachers believe (Moore. with the corresponding avalanche of available information.2 Defining Information Literacy Despite this growing interest. categorising. Sweller. 2008. in these countries. academics from a variety of disciplines. 1997). 1997. Australia have traditionally employed trained teacher librarians who as well managing school libraries are also responsible for leading the school-wide development of information literacy. Candy. 1. been associated with the school library. 1. have pointed out that all classroom teachers need professional development in this area. Today. 2002. 2006. The following definition of information literacy is widely accepted by many educational organisations (Association of American Colleges and Universities. Others may be more subject specific. So far though there has been little investigation into how teachers approach the teaching of these skills. To be information literate. p. skimming and scanning. A number of countries such USA.. and others from global organisations such as UNESCO. Brand-Gruwel. often providing appropriate professional development. rapid growth and enthusiastic uptake of the internet in education. 2002). Walraven. Shenton. & Boshuizen. Henri. 2005. note taking methods. Todd. use of contents pages and indexes. They work with students and with teachers. Moore. & Klaus. Bruce. 1997. (2006) have joined librarians in writing about the need to improve students’ information literacy development (Combes. The development of information skills therefore has often. Many of these skills. Canada. though. Introduction The acknowledgement that students lack information skills is widespread. has seen a much wider understanding of the importance of information literacy in the academic community. that ‘‘minimal guided instruction is likely to be ineffective” (Kirschner. 2006. p. a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate. such as those used in mathematics or science. & Clark. 2000).

1 Information Literacy and Livelong Learners The recently revised New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education. the following explanation was used as a basis against which to measure participants’ descriptions of an information literate person. 2002.. 1. Most information processing models. For the purposes of this project. as Doyle (1994) points out. The researcher was not expecting participants to provide a word-perfect definition of information literacy but rather to provide their own descriptions of the attributes of an information literate person. Walraven etal. 2001). described a number of information literacy strategies and skills that students need to develop in order to become . 1988). Information literacy is a broad concept that embraces information skills. p. Todd. that enable learners to function effectively in the information landscape. 2003a). 2005. New Zealand Curriculum Framework (Ministry of Education. and the attitudes and values. 2007. such as copyright and plagiarism. 2004. & Caspari. Todd. To complete assignments successfully. By implication. 2003). They need to be aware also of issues relating to the ethical use of information. therefore. Such learners are ‘‘literate and numerate. 44). evaluate and use information from many sources including a variety of online resources.3 Information Literacy in New Zealand 1. 2003b. Moore. This has been done to include all terms and phrases which might have been used by the participating teachers. Information literate people are those who have learned how to learn. When analysing teachers’ descriptions. including those mentioned above. 2007) emphasises the importance of lifelong learning and the vision. by extension. Maniotes. 11). formulate key questions and know how to locate. to all successful living” (p. will almost always be more successful than those not given such guidance (Kuhlthau.3. lists the attributes of lifelong learners. Those who have not been taught the skills or provided with a framework for their research or inquiry often resort to copying or cutting and pasting material (Hipkins. de la Harpe and Radloff (2000) in assessing the characteristics of lifelong learners. and library skills along with the problem-solving and cognitive skills. ‘‘is central to all successful learning and. Action Learning (Gawith.information. 8). Learning for the future (Australian School Library Association. (American Library Association. Such terms might also have included references to currently available and evolving technologies and the ethical use of information. 1996) and skill descriptions from the Essential Skills. 2008). Schools with a focus on lifelong learning should also have a strong focus on information literacy development (Bryce & Withers. This. terms associated with several widely used information processing models. (p. Students who have been taught how to use a model or framework encapsulating the above. (Ministry of Education & National Library of New Zealand. break the process down into manageable stages. ICT skills. Big6 (Eisenberg & Berkowitz. 1993) (Appendix A) were also taken into account. 2002. Kuhlthau. users and creators of knowledge and information decision makers”. critical and creative thinkers. students need to define their information needs. 1998). active seekers. many of the skills underlying these attributes of lifelong learners are information literacy skills.

Kuhlthau. teaching materials or professional development. As a result. Teacher salaries are paid centrally though. working with schools and teacher librarians in USA. 1993) specified seven essential learning areas and eight essential skills areas. In the New Zealand Curriculum therefore. makes a positive difference to student learning outcomes. In Singapore the government sees information skills as important to the Singapore economy. the statement does acknowledge the need. While this has yet to eventuate.3. the New Zealand Curriculum does not include a competency such as ‘The ability to use information interactively’ (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Bruce (2002) also refers to information literacy as the ‘catalyst’ needed to transform ‘‘the information society of today into the learning society of tomorrow” (p. for example. any information literacy skill development in schools had often been carried out by qualified teacher librarians. 1. . as is school operational funding. particularly with the growth of lifelong learning and knowledge-based industries (Hepworth. 1. The New Zealand government. ‘‘to be developed by all students across the whole curriculum throughout the years of schooling” (p. For the first time. Although. schools have tended not to take on this extra spending and few schools now have staff trained to develop information literacy across the curriculum. 2000). Lance (2005. does appear to appreciate the need for information literacy development. 2006. 2005). each school in New Zealand became self managing. the need for students to develop information literacy skills in order to achieve many of the competencies is implied but not stated. aims to provide all ‘‘New Zealanders with . while not explicitly linking information literacy with lifelong learning. A small action research . can be very effective. The digital strategy (Ministry for Economic Development. In 1993.2 Development of Information Literacy With the 1989 educational reforms (Ministry of Education. and using an information processing model. 2007) and Todd. . based on the OECD key competencies.effective learners. (2006) Enabling the 21st century learner: an e-learning action plan for schools 2006–2010 states that there will be support for a focus on teacher professional development in information literacy development. stopped in 1992 and it was left up to each school to decide whether or not to employ and pay a qualified teacher librarian. found that explicit teaching of skills in context. The latest revision of the New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education. if the teachers have been appropriately trained. 17). 1989). 2005a).3. From 1987 (when training started) until 1992. information skill development was specified in the New Zealand Curriculum but it was not mandatory for teachers to develop these skills with their students. for example. Central funding for such positions. and Tepe (2004). There are no central bodies organising.3 Teaching Information Literacy in New Zealand There is evidence that teaching for information literacy. however. the New Zealand Curriculum Framework (Ministry of Education.the confidence to find and use the information they need” while the Ministry of Education. the supply of furniture. 2007) includes eight key learning areas and five key competencies. 4).

ERO visited almost 400 schools in late 2004 and early 2005 looking at infrastructure. the content of information resources available to students and the skills. primary schools found that the teachers were not familiar with the concept of information literacy and most seemed not to be explicitly teaching the skills. life long reading and learning. that some teachers are not explicitly teaching information literacy skills. is evidence that New Zealand students are not developing information literacy skills. Probert’s (2006) findings were similar when working with teachers from several Auckland. 2008). 2005). high school. addressing information literacy teaching by regular classroom teachers who are not associated with teacher librarians. Very few schools were using a school-wide information processing model and it was found that many students could not articulate a common approach. 2001 and 2005 and the results show that there was little evidence of any change in the ability of year 4 and year 8 students. to find and gather information. NZ.project. 21). Results from theNewZealand National Education Monitoring Project (NEMP) (Flockton. does indeed make a difference (Hannah. Investigating research as a student learning activity in six Wellington. however. attitudes and values related to information literacy. The evidence from the evaluation demonstrated that information literacy is not well developed in most schools and particularly not in secondary schools with little evidence that schools were explicitly and systematically implementing an information process model across the curriculum. This course is recommended for all teachers teaching any subject at any year level. supported or practised by the teaching profession. between 1997 and 2005. Student learning in the information Landscape (2005) to discover how effectively New Zealand schools were supporting students’ learning in the information landscape. even when working collaboratively. Teachers who have undertaken this course often . Hipkins (2005) reported that students felt teachers had not taught them the skills they needed to carry out their own research projects and also noted that much of what was termed research actually consisted merely of ‘‘information retrieval and repackaging” (p. Concerns listed in the 2006 report included the finding that few year 4 and year 8 students were able to describe a coherent process or strategy for finding and using information for a research or study topic and that more than 50% struggled to ask two or three ‘strong’ questions for an inquiry. Crooks. secondary schools. There are few courses in New Zealand available for teachers wishing to undertake information literacy professional development and only one is offered at university level (University of Auckland. &White. New Zealand secondary schools. Again students learned to use an information processing model. carried out at a Wellington. Students also lacked skills of discernment and discrimination in their use of internet information. Alongside these findings. 2006) suggest that the principles and goals of information literacy are not‘ widely understood. NZ. also demonstrated that careful and planned teaching for information literacy. carried out by a trained teacher librarian and a classroom teacher. The Education Review Office (ERO) conducted a review. Information skills were tested in 1997. This project began in 1993 to assess and report on the achievement of years 4 and 8 primary school students inNewZealand across all areas of the curriculum. Moore (2002) working with primary teachers in five Wellington. NZ. There is little research available.

B. information literacy skills were being taught. The principals of the three schools were concerned about the levels of information literacy knowledge and practice of staff after reading the results of the most recent National Education Monitoring Project (NEMP) (Flockton et al. Barrar. The gender imbalance is not surprising given that the high schools are girls-only schools. At School A. 50% were aged 30–39 years and 20% aged 40– 49 years. were evenly spread between the ages of 20–29 years of ages and over 50 years. were invited to take part in this project and 148 (74%) participated. State girls’ high school years 9–13 (students 13–17 years of age). There were 121 female and 27 male teachers who chose to take part in the project. C. 76% of the teachers were aged 50 and over. 32% aged 30–39 years and the remained over 40 years. were aged 30–49 while a quarter were over 50 years of age and the remainder under 30 years of age. & Fung. with the agreement of their principals. Many principals also enroll new teachers to their schools in the course.2 Participants Teachers involved in the project taught at the following schools A.1 Context 200 teachers from three neighboring schools. 72 teachers participated. Wilson. this evidence is anecdotal and so far there has been no academic evaluation of this or any other course offering information literacy professional development to classroom teachers in New Zealand 2. School B had the greatest number of teachers who had been teaching for over 20 years (32%) followed by School C (28%) while 73% of teachers at School A had been teaching for nine years or less. Coeducational intermediate school (Years 7 and 8 with students of 11 and 12 years of age). therefore. 30%.. The majority of the teachers participating in the project overall. 2. Unfortunately though. They formed a cluster and hoped to gain information from the project which would demonstrate teachers’ understanding of information literacy and provide some indication of how or if. At School C. The remainder.report that that they have been supplied with strategies for successfully teaching skills and for implementing an information literacy process into their schools across the curriculum and at all levels. The schools then plan to design and implement appropriate professional development designed to match teachers’ needs (Timperley. The majority (86%) of . with few teachers in 20-29 age band. 2006). 52% of participants were aged 30 or under. 2007b). Method 2. Integrated (Catholic) years 7–13 girls’ school (comprising both intermediate and high school age students from 11 to 17 years of age). 51 teachers participated. Some also report that their teaching has been transformed. At School B. 25 teachers participated.

Those teaching at high school level represented all subject areas taught at the two secondary schools with the majority teaching subjects such as English (41. Qualitative data were gathered from interviews which provided balance for the more structured nature of quantitative survey data collection (Axinn & Pearce.1 Web Based Questionnaire The questionnaire.” Part 2 contained Lickert scale questions designed to explore participants’ attitudes and beliefs about information literacy development. Bryman. mathematics and social sciences. science. 2.4%). Documentation including worksheet templates. Many taught more than one subject. 2007).the participants had trained in New Zealand while the remainder were trained in UK. 2006. 2006. Australia. South Africa. exploring participants’ practices when teaching information literacy skills. science (22%) and social sciences (14. using teachers not returning to the schools in 2008.com. The explanation given above was expanded. The questionnaire was adapted from one used previously when investigating teachers’ understanding of information literacy in an Auckland. 2000. using a Lickert-frequency response scale. 2007). Much trialing was involved. School A teachers also taught subjects in which they specialised. as described. Participants included ten heads of departments (HODs in Schools B and C) and five team leaders at School A. Canada. It was felt preferable to use the university services as the data collected would be secure than it might be if using a commercially available service such as surveymonkey. 2005. As each head of department or team leader . . The questionnaire contained 32 questions in three parts.4.4%). 2005.4 Procedure 2. . policies and departmental planning were requested. 2. 35). Ministry of Education & National Library of New Zealand. such as English. Part 1 gathered demographic information and included one open ended question asking participants to complete the statement ‘‘An information literate person is someone who. A number of questions were also adapted from the work of Moore (2002). 2004. self-administered anonymously by staff using their laptops. Ministry for Economic Development. It was considered important to take into account the applied knowledge of teachers which can often seem intuitive and not be easily ‘‘translatable into explicit descriptions” (Claxton. mathematics (37%). in an effort to help teachers recognise a variety of terms they might use when teaching. India or Fiji. to ensure that relevant questions had been asked and also to check for ease of use in an online format. Part 3 contained open ended questions about any information processing models used and nine questions. New Zealand high school. The term ‘information literacy’ was used in questionnaires and interviews as it is the term found in official documentation (Education Review Office. was stored on a Faculty of Education IT server.3 Design The project comprised a mixed method design with the collection of quantitative data using questionnaires followed by the collection of more qualitative data through interviews (Creswell & Plano Clark. p. 2002). Ministry of Education.

forgot to complete the questionnaire. The documentation supplied examples of teachers’ classroom assignments and current information processing models in use. The findings presented here address those questions in the questionnaires which are most relevant to gauging teachers’ understandingof information literacy and their classroom practice. Result and Discussion The response rate to the teacher questionnaire was high. f 6. Teachers commented on the convenience factor as they all have laptops with wireless connections and so were able to complete the questionnaire whenever and wherever they found time. The interview questions. were designed to explore responses to parts of the questionnaire involving perceptions of information literacy and teaching practices concerning information literacy development. Anecdotal evidence demonstrated strong support for the use of online questionnaires. teachers who chose not to become involved and others who. fd 5. 4. They were also asked about any departmental policies regarding information literacy development. under pressures of work. with 148 responses from a total of 200 teachers at the three schools (74%). whether they checked the information literacy skills levels of their students at the start of each year and to describe how they taught note taking or website evaluation. The interview questions explored these aspects in more depth. Triangulation was achieved through the collection and analysis of data from different and separate sources of evidence. again trialled with staff not returning to the schools in 2008. it was assumed that they would have information relating to departmental policies and practice. dfsd . There were. presumably. 3. Participants were asked.was responsible for between four and ten other teachers from all subject areas. Teaching staff self-reported through the use of the questionnaires while interviews were held with HODs and team leaders. Other comments included ‘‘I have lost some skills in writing for any time with a pen rather than with a keyboard” and that I ‘‘may have given much shorter answers if completing a conventional hard copy questionnaire”. for example.