There’s little information available on Qatari students’ experience with information literacy. What little information does exists draws from outdated surveys and assumptions about the current population. The purpose of this paper is to describe how data collected from first-semester Qatari students who enrolled in a semester-long information literacy course at Carnegie Mellon University helped update perceptions of this population, drove changes made to content and instructional delivery, and enabled a reflective process for teaching and learning.
Pre- and post-surveys completed by students explore Qatari students’ pre-college experience with information literacy concepts, using libraries, and writing. They also compare the students’ attitude toward information literacy before and after taking the course. Qatari students’ data were extracted from the overall student population to focus on this population and analyzed descriptively based on cumulative responses. The pre-survey data were used to inform changes made to instructional content and delivery throughout the term.
Contrary to assumptions, first-year Qatari students expressed familiarity with information literacy concepts before attending college. The data indicated strong learning preferences and a positive attitude toward information literacy.
Since information collected in this study relied on student perceptions of their experience, results must be paired with performance measurement before drawing additional conclusions about information literacy competencies of first-year Qatari students. Further, the study did not explore gender and sociocultural differences; therefore no general conclusions should be drawn.
Instructional design should be based on a current understanding of local information needs and searching habits. In addition, this approach encourages reflective learning and teaching and help instructors avoid prior assumptions about their students.
This paper provides information on how Qatari students perceive their experience with information literacy before college, the importance of understanding information literacy concepts and its role in their personal, academic, and professional lives. It centers on a population for whom information literacy concepts remain both relatively challenging and critical for their future learning development and offers suggestions for future research.
The author would like to thank the colleagues Lynn Berard, Dr Gloriana St Clair, and Carnegie Mellon University ' s Global Communication Center staff for their mentorship and guidance during the writing of this paper, Teresa MacGregor for providing support and input during the course design and teaching, and to Erika Linke for her guidance and offering me the opportunity to teach information literacy at our Qatar branch campus. Finally, the author would like to extend gratitude to the referees and the editor for their thoughtful review, insightful comments, and suggestions.
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