Heidi Julien , Susan Barker (2009) How high-school students find and evaluate scientific information: A basis for information literacy skills development, Library & Information Science Research
This study examined the relationship between curricula in secondary-level science classrooms, which support development of information literacy skills, and actual student skills. A vast body of research reflects deep concern with the level of information literacy skill development among secondary and post-secondary students. But even when educational curricula mandate skill development, many students are unable to demonstrate sophisticated information searching and critical evaluation skills. The findings of this study, which we based on analyzing information seeking tasks and conducting interviews with students in three biology classes in a large urban high school, demonstrated a similar lack of skills. Pressure on teachers to “teach to examinations”—that is, to focus on substantive content rather than on information literacy skills and information literacy skills deficits among teachers themselves—is a possible explanation for these results. The study is of particular interest to teachers of the curriculum applicable in the study context, but the broader implications of repeated indications of gaps in students’ information literacy skills are a significant indicator that schools must assume a larger responsibility for information literacy instruction. Leaving skill development to the post-secondary environment will not ensure that citizens are sufficiently skilled to participate fully in 21st century life, in workplaces or in their personal life contexts.
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