DEC Scan Journal : August 2011
Scan Vol 30 No 3 August 2011 22 information literacy. The first group were those students who actively valued information literacy, and also saw value – both utilitarian and cognitive – in transferring information literacy practices. For example, these students had learned the benefits of effective searching, and they actively transferred the skills and practices involved in effective searching, to their learning activities in Term 4. This group took a reflective view of transfer, that is, they saw it as useful when they were completing their assignments, but they took a wider view also, viewing transfer as benefi- cial to their own understanding and new knowledge creation. This group of students can be viewed as actual transferrers. The second group – the majority of students – who stated that they believed that transfer was beneficial, and that future students in Year 7 should engage in transfer, nevertheless were reluctant practitioners of transfer. This group of students took the view that it was the responsibility of teachers and teacher librarians to remind students of the value of transfer, or instruct the students to transfer skills and practices. They appeared not to be motivated to transfer. On this issue of responsibility, the teachers and teacher librarians in the study were divided on this issue, and many saw transfer as the responsibility of the students. Some students pointed out that, while they were encouraged to transfer some aspects of subjects e.g. mathematical formulas or scien- tific facts, neither teachers nor teacher librarians encouraged the transfer of aspects of information literacy such as concept mapping, question formula- tion or reading for understanding. This group of students may be termed potential transferrers. The third group – a very small minority – did not engage in transfer as they lacked the ability to understand any potential value in transfer. This was similar to their inability to value information literacy practices. This group can be termed non-transferrers. Developing a culture of transfer In all three schools, it was clear that there was no culture of transfer. Students noted that teachers did not use the term transfer, and school staff argued that, while transfer had been discussed informally in each school, there was no policy on transfer, and no active initiatives. All staff, however, agreed that transfer was one of the fundamental aspects of secondary education. Teacher librarians and teachers agreed that a more formal approach to transfer was needed in each school, but added that, in addition to this, there needed to be active discussion of transfer between staff, and between staff and students, at all levels. The situation in these schools reflected Haskell’s (2001) argument that a culture of transfer was a key element in determining whether students would or would not engage in transfer. Implications for teachers and teacher librarians There is no attempt by the author to generalise the findings of this study, but it may be worthwhile to consider potential implications for teacher librarians and teachers. One of the observations of the researcher was that, in all three schools, there were a number of assumptions made by teacher librarians and teachers about information literacy practices. For example, there were widespread assumptions that students would see value in these practices, would implement these practices across the curriculum, and would transfer practices across time. Anecdotal evidence from other schools visited by the author suggests that such assumptions may be widespread. These assumptions however, were rarely discussed by school staff. The first implication of the study for teacher librarians and teachers is that there may be a need in schools for a debate about information literacy practices, and the related assumptions. It might be profitable for information literacy to be discussed both formally and informally amongst staff, with the aim of information literacy becoming a part of the whole school culture. The second implication for teacher librarians and teachers is that there appears to be a need for teaching students not merely a set of what might be agreed as information literacy skills, and what might be viewed as the how of information literacy. If all students are to actively value information literacy practices, there is a need for them to be taught about the why of information literacy e.g. how developing information literacy practices can benefit students in making them more effective learners. The findings of this study suggest that, at present, information literacy in schools targets the more able/more motivated students who already produce efficient school assignments. The third implication for teachers and teacher librarians is that there appears to be a need for a more formal debate about transfer of information literacy practices in schools. This does not just mean the formation of a policy on actively promoting transfer, useful as this would be, but it implies that a culture of transfer needs to be developed in schools. If a school had a culture of transfer, all staff would have a heightened awareness of the importance of transfer, and there would be a focus on transfer across the curriculum, and across year groups in the school. ... a culture of transfer was a key element in determining whether students would or would not engage in transfer.