Here at the LILAC conference #lilac13 in Manchester I am now in a session with Lauren Smith, a PhD researcher at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. She is giving a talk based on her PhD topic, Towards a model of critical information literacy instruction for the development of political engagement and knowledge. As with all my conference posts, this is my instant take on the session, so apologies to Lauren if I got any of it wrong.
She is interested in a model of information literacy in secondary schools that is more critical and engaged. She started by highlighting that young people are interested in social political issues, but may be more likely to engage with issues (rather than parties) and in an informal way. She cited a researcher who had identified that you cannot defintely say that young people are less potically engaged than previous generations.
Lauren had read more about critical pedagogy (particularly the work of Giroux e.g. this). Going on to critical literacy, this involves engaging critically with the ideas expressed in the text. In the area of information literacy, she has identified that there have been various authors who have critiqued the notion of information literacy. Whilst there is a rheteoric about the value of information literacy for democracy, there is a lack of research, which is a gap that Lauren aims to address. By drawing on the concepts of critical literacy and information literacy, she has identified a potential critical information literacy.
Her methodology is one of mixed methods, but with an emphasis on qualitative data and employing a critical theory approach. She will look at a small group of secondary school students, get a perspective on their factual knowledge about local and national politics (updating and revising a social attitudes survey). Lauren will then use repertory grid interviews to understand how the young people conceive of the topic of politics (here is an article by one of my colleague using this approach http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1923906&show=abstract) . She will also ask them to keep diaries about their experiences with politics information, and finish with focus groups or interviews.