New Setting, Same Skill: Teaching Geography Students to Transfer Information Literacy Skills From Familiar to Unfamiliar Contexts

Caleb Allison, Kumar Laxman, Mei Lai


Existing research shows that high school students do not possess information literacy skills adequate to function in a high-tech society that relies so heavily on information. If students are taught these skills, they struggle to apply them. This small-scale intervention focused on helping Geography students at a low-socioeconomic high school in Auckland, New Zealand to transfer information literacy skills from familiar to unfamiliar topics. It tested whether teaching information literacy skills via direct instruction, and then giving students the opportunity to use these skills in structured practice sessions online, would help them transfer those skills. The need for the study arose from a gap in existing research into teaching information literacy for transfer. The findings of this study indicated that it was relatively easy for the students to learn to formulate search queries, but they need more help evaluating information sources. The findings also showed that direct feedback from a teacher is vital to teaching information literacy. The findings are significant in that they add to a growing body of research that teaching information literacy through practical research projects is potentially more effective than decontextualising the skills and teaching them as a standalone topic. Furthermore, the findings support existing research that teacher feedback is a necessary component of teaching information literacy.

Keywords: Geography education, Information literacy skills

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