Wednesday, October 23, 2013

National Information Literacy Survey of Primary and Secondary School Students in Singapore #ecil2013

Intan Azura Mokhtar presented on National Information Literacy Survey of Primary and Secondary School Students in Singapore - A Pilot Study, co-authored with Yun-Ke Chang, Shaheen Majid, Schubert Foo and Yin-Leng Theng and Xue Zhangthe, at the European Conference on Information Literacy. My poor quality photo shows the end of her presentation.
She started by talking about Singapore (those of you who followed my IFLA posts will know something about it) - it is a young, developed nation with a high literacy rate. Every school has a school loibrary, but not every library has a qualified librarian. They are proposing a model for IL competence in Singapore schools. As well as five components (e.g. selecting information sources), they also identified 3 qualities: Collaboration, social responsibility and positive attitudes. This fits with a Singaporean focus on active citizenship. Recent policy changes have emphasised 21st century competencies including information literacy and critical thinking.
However IL tends to be interwoven into policy initiatives rather than standing on its own. Therefore they wanted to present a model of IL for the school curriculum to the Ministry for Education. To achieve this they planned to do a pilot study, initially doing a pen and paper pilot study to assess IL. The pilot was small, but they have already followed up on this with a larger study. They have identified that pen and paper questionnaires are not so good for assessing qualities, it really needs observation.
From the pilot of grade 3 students (I think, primary school), the most difficult questions were selecting information sources, seeking & evaluating information from sources, and defining the information task. Some of the inferences for the baseline data collection and designing the intervention programme are:
- children may not have been taught about fiction and non-fiction books, or be introduced to parts of a book
- more than 95% having internet access, so that they may think that information is largely available through online sources
- they may not see the value of print sources
- not able to understand the components and purpose of different sources (e.g. if you want current news, where do you go)
For slightly older (grade 5) children, the most difficult questions included synthesising and using information. Inferences included that students were not aware of how books and other library materials were organised, and they relied on online sources.
At grade 9, they did not know how to cite, or use keywords, and were not so good at evaluating information (depending on views of friends, rather than family or teachers). They did not use librarians, and were quite confident in their own IL abilities.
From these results, they are considering the role of the school librarian and the role of school libraries: in Singapore there have been a lot of developments, but school libraries have not changed so much.

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