Addressing the Gaps in Eighth-Grade Students' Information Literacy Skills: A Mixed Methods Approach
McLemore, Caitlin Clause
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Information literacy considers how individuals find, evaluate, and use information. This quasi-experimental, fixed-effects, mixed-methods study explored strategies for addressing the gaps in eighth-grade students’ information literacy skills at an all-girls independent school. To teach the specific information literacy skill of evaluating online information sources, students participated in a discipline-based, gamified instructional unit with teacher-librarian collaboration. All eighth-grade students participated in a seven-day instructional unit during social studies classes, with 50-minute class periods. Students completed lessons in Checkology, a web-based platform with gamified, interactive lessons. At the end of each class, the students participated in a whole-group discussion. Next, students worked on an individual research project. In addition to librarian-curated resources, students were asked to independently choose at least one online information source. Students also completed the ninth-grade, 10-item Evaluate Sources and Information subsection of the Tool for Real-time Assessment of Information Literacy Skills before and after the intervention. Additional data included attendance sheets, classroom activities time logs, field notes from classroom observations, transcripts from student focus groups, student source annotations, and Checkology class reports. Findings indicated successful adherence to the research design. However, the dose delivered included additional activities, as students completed the planned lessons in less time than expected. Overall, students reported a positive experience interacting with the intervention components. Student results from the preintervention and postintervention assessment indicated a significant difference between the intervention and the students’ ability to evaluate online information sources. Qualitative data from focus groups and observations also revealed a positive change in students’ ability to evaluate online information sources. The intervention factors that appeared to provide the most impact included the discipline-based approach and teacher-librarian collaboration, while the impact of gamification on student learning was less clear. Data on self-efficacy was limited, but suggested a positive change in students.