Information Literacy

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Here is why it is so important that we teach students how to deal with the flood of information that’s available to them on the Internet, instead of blocking them from it:

Students Lack ‘Information Literacy,’ Testing Service’s Study Finds

This article is from yesterday’s Chronicle of Higher Education’s Daily News. According to the piece,

A study by the nonprofit testing service [ETS] looked at the scores of about 3,000 college students and 800 high-school students who earlier this year took a new ETS test designed to measure their information literacy and computer savvy. The test is called the ICT Literacy Assessment Core Level. “ICT” stands for “information and communication technology.”

According to the preliminary report, only 13 percent of the test-takers were information literate. ETS set what company officials described as a rough, unofficial information-literacy bar using information from a variety of sources, including the Association of College and Research Libraries.

The article doesn’t give a definition of information literacy (although I kind of get the feeling it’s heavily text/print based) as used by ETS, specifics on the actual test, or detailed information on what it measures, but it does caution the reader that the findings are preliminary. An excerpt from the findings:

Among the study’s findings, the ETS labeled the following as “good”:

  • Students generally recognized that Web sites whose addresses end in .edu or .gov were less likely to contain biased material than those with addresses ending in .com.
  • Students typically favored print material over Web sites for authoritative information.
  • When searching a database of journal articles for a research project, 63 percent of students identified reasonably relevant materials.

The testing service labeled the following findings as “bad”:

  • Some students were too willing to believe print materials, failing to distinguish authoritative from mass-market sources.
  • Students were generally poor at identifying biased Web content.
  • When searching a database, only half of students downplayed irrelevant results.

As has been said so many times, it’s not about the technology, but about the information…

 

Image Credit: Nandudesign’s photostream:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/91382338@N00/262758007/

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