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A phenomenographic study of English faculty's conceptions of information literacy

Stuart Boon (Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)
Bill Johnston (Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)
Sheila Webber (Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 13 March 2007

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to identify UK English academics' conceptions of information literacy and compare those conceptions with current information literacy standards and frameworks.

Design/methodology/approach

Three year AHRB‐funded study involving 80 academics interviewed throughout the UK and using the phenomenographic research method to discover variation in experience leading towards identification of qualitatively different conceptions of information literacy. Conceptions are then reviewed in light of previous research and current librarian‐generated frameworks and standards.

Findings

The findings identify UK English academics' conceptions of information literacy and show them to be both similar to and significantly different from conceptions described in previous research and librarian‐generated frameworks and standards.

Research limitations/implications

The research focuses on creating a conceptual snapshot‐in‐time for the 20 English academics taking part. The research implies that disciplinary differences in conception of information literacy are significant and suggests further research to assess disciplinary conceptual differences.

Practical implications

Librarians working with English faculty on information literacy need to be aware of differences in conception between themselves and academics to work effectively. The paper also highlights the significance of information literacy in English faculty's teaching and research practices and this relevance suggests that information literacy should be integrated into course and curriculum design.

Originality/value

The paper fills a major gap in literature on information literacy by focussing on conceptions of lecturers, thereby counterbalancing the abundance of work produced by librarians. The paper illustrates the complexity of English academics' conceptions of information literacy and informs academics' use and understanding of information literacy.

Keywords

Citation

Boon, S., Johnston, B. and Webber, S. (2007), "A phenomenographic study of English faculty's conceptions of information literacy", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 63 No. 2, pp. 204-228. https://doi.org/10.1108/00220410710737187

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited