Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Report from #ecil2014 - Towards adult information literacy assessment in Latvia

Next from a session on "assessment" at the European Conference on Information Literacy, held in Dubrovnik. Liga Krumina (University of Latvia) talked on Towards adult information literacy assessment in Latvia: UNESCO media and information literacy competency matrix in practice.
They had a product to develop diagnostic instruments for assessment of adults' (25-62 years) knowledge and skills. The participants were a purposive sample of the economically active population in a region of Latvia. The researchers were using the concept of "livelihood" involving resources such as knowledge, land, tools that can be shared. They were adopting a UNESCO definition of media and information literacy (MIL) as given in the UNESCO MIL assessment document. This document idetifies three levels of MIL, plus a "zero" level. Data was collected through focus groups, questionnaires and practical information tasks.
In the focus groups researchers asked about the importance of information in the participants everyday lives, problems encountered, and knowledge and skills with information. The knowledge questionnaire contained 23 questions based on everyday life situations (with questions concerning access, evaluation and creation). The practical tasks involved asking participants to undertake search tasks and using think-aloud protocolls to collect data.
In the focus group, a key problem that emerged was language skill (i.e. if there was no information in Latvian), and also skills in interacting with computers, software and search engines. In the questionnaire, the average level of respondents was level 2, in evaluation it was level 3, and in creation in was levels zero/one. The speaker noted that although participants self-rated their skills as good, "the results of practical tasks showed many shortcomings".
The speaker concluded that the four levels of competence were useful as they helped to identify where areas for improvement were. The think-aloud method was time-consuming but the results were "credible and accurate" and thus that aspect was valuable.
In the questions afterwards, the speaker said the biggest problem was with the questionnaire where there could be several valid answers to some practical questions (e.g. if you found a recipe for soup on the internet, how can you best save it while you make the soup). They are developing this further.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Dubrovnik city walls from the sea, October 2014

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