Information Literacy Project at UW-Superior

Students in three Fall 2009 courses are pilot-testing an interactive, computer-based tutorial developed at UW-Superior’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL). The tutorial aims at increasing student skills in searching for, selecting, and citing online videos and images, and incorporates a section on the ethics of using information accessed on the Internet. It can be assigned as homework or used in-class as a preparatory activity for class discussion.

Work on the tutorial began in Fall 2008, when instructor Kay Biga asked students to incorporate videos and images into their semester-end presentations for her First Year Seminar on business ethics titled “Swimming with the Sharks.” Through CETL’s Teaching with Technology Program, instructional developer Lisa Larson worked with Biga to develop a tutorial to help students select engaging videos and images that would bring to life their presentations on historical business ethics cases.

Data generated for the Fall 2008 pilot project included student surveys at semester start and semester end to provide self-assessment data on the assignment’s impact on their learning of both information literacy and course topics. At semester start, 10 out of 13 of the First Year Seminar students responded “yes” to the statement “I understand copyright laws.” However, only half of the students said they knew how to use video clips and pictures in a presentation, and only three students said they knew the proper citations for videos and pictures.

After using the tutorial and completing the assignment, over 90% of students said that using the tutorial and the online search engines not only helped improve their searching and citing of online video and image sources, but also helped them learn more about the course topic.

For Fall 2009, the tutorial has been redesigned for greater interactivity and for use across disciplines. It is currently being pilot tested a Freshman English II course and an American Government course, as well as in Biga’s First Year Seminar. Students in each course will complete the tutorial and an assignment that involves incorporating video and images into presentations.

As in Fall 2008, results of the Fall 2009 preliminary survey are mixed. Seventy-seven percent of the 31 students surveyed so far agreed with the statement “I am able to use online search engines effectively and efficiently.” However, 42% of students agreed that “I probably miss some good online resources because I don’t look at many of the results of online searches.” Furthermore, only 10 out of 31 students agreed that “I often use AND, OR, NOT, or quotation marks in my online search terms.” Just over half said that they often follow links to find more information about the source of online materials they view and use. And only 35% said that they often go to online news sources or archives from well-known sources to find online videos.

For the Fall 2009 project, students will be surveyed again after completing the tutorial and assignment to gain further insights into student skills and needs in information literacy for academic purposes. A focus group will provide additional information on student perspectives and ideas for further tutorial redesign. Additional results from UW-Superior’s pilot project on information literacy development will be available in Spring 2010.

Submitted by Lisa Larson, Ed.D, UW-Superior