This study aims to investigate the information literacy (IL) competencies of incoming graduate students in the information studies masters’ degree program at Kuwait University.
Data were collected from 37 students through an IL assessment containing 43 questions associated with four Association of College and Research Libraries’ higher education competency standards. Based on the assessment results and semi-structured interviews, a SWOT analysis was performed.
After normalizing students’ scores to 100 per cent, the average score was 44.46 per cent. Students were unable to identify key concepts, construct effective search strategies, understand the scope and purpose of information sources and determine the quality of sources; their knowledge about information management systems was also weak. By contrast, students were better able to define an information need, had a general understanding of plagiarism and had reasonable knowledge about a website’s credibility. The SWOT analysis suggested that language difficulties and unfamiliarity with library conventions partly contribute to students’ lack of information knowledge and skills.
No study has tested the IL competencies of library and information studies graduate students in a Gulf Cooperation Council country. This study’s results provide a baseline assessment of graduate students’ IL needs, based on realistic data and achievable outcomes, and aiming to increase student learning. The findings will start a dialogue in relation to IL education within academic communities, especially those in developing countries, leading to instructional programs that impact on educators, administrators, information professionals and (most importantly) students. In the global arena, this research is also of value and interest to educators and professionals who are responsible for creating and improving IL instruction for graduate students who are non-native English speakers. To complete the assessment, a second study is underway covering standard four based on a written term paper.
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