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

Full Text:



American Library Association. (2000). Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Retrieved from

Andrews, L. (2002). Transfer of Learning: A Century Later. Journal of Thought, 37(2), 63-72.

Bransford, J.D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.) (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Retrieved from

Breivik, P. S. (2005). 21st century learning and information literacy. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 37(2), 21-27. DOI: 10.3200/CHNG.37.2.21-27

Candy, P. (2002). Lifelong learning and information literacy. Retrieved from pdf

Chu, S. K., Tse, S. K., & Chow, K. (2011). Using collaborative teaching and inquiry project- based learning to help primary school students develop information literacy and information skills. Library & Information Science, 33, 132-143.

DeLay, R. (1996). Forming Knowledge: Constructivist Learning and Experiential Education. Journal of Experiential Education, 19(2), 76-81. DOI: 10.1177/105382599601900204.

Doyle, C. S. (1992). Outcome Measures for Information Literacy within the National Education Goals of 1990. Final Report to National Forum on Information Literacy. Summary of Findings.

Fabbi, J. L. (2015). Fortifying the Pipeline: A Quantitative Exploration of High School Factors Impacting the Information Literacy of First-Year College Students. College & Research Libraries, 76(1), 31-42.

Gross, M., & Latham, D. (2007). Attaining information literacy: An investigation of the relationship between skill level, self-estimates of skill, and library anxiety. Library & Information Science Research, 29(3), 332-353.

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: maximising impact on learning. Routledge: New York.

Head, A. J. (2013). Learning the ropes: How freshmen conduct course research once they enter college. Project Information Literacy Research Report: “Learning the Ropes”.

Katz, I. R. (2007). Testing information literacy in digital environments: ETS's iSkills assessment. Information technology and Libraries, 26(3), 3-12.

Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem- Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75-86.

Kovalik, C. (2013). Information Literacy and High School Seniors: Perceptions of the Research Process. School Library Research, 16, 1-26.

Lei, P.-L., Lin, S. S. J., & Sun, C.-T. (2013). Effect of Reading Ability and Internet Experience on Keyword-based Image Search. Educational Technology & Society, 16(2), 151- 162.

Lenox, M. F., & Walker, M. L. (1993). Information literacy in the educational process. The Educational Forum, 57(3), 312-324.

Mackey, T. P., & Jacobson, T. E. (2010). Reframing information literacy as a metaliteracy. College & Research Libraries. Retrieved from

Manuel, K. (2002). Teaching Information Literacy to Generation Y. Journal of Library Administration, 36(1-2), 195-217. DOI: 10.1300/J111v36n01_12

Markless, S., & Streatfield, D. R. (2007). Three decades of information literacy: redefining the parameters. Change and Challenge: Information Literacy for the Twenty-first Century, 15-36. Adelaide: Auslib Press.

Martin, C. M., Garcia, E. P., & McPhee, M. (2012). Information Literacy Outreach: Building a High School Program at California State University Northridge. Education Libraries, 34(1-2), 34-47.

Mery, Y., Blakiston, R., Kline, E., Sult, L., & Brewer, M. M. (2010). Developing an Online Credit IL Course for a Freshman Writing Program in a University Setting. Best Practices for Credit-Bearing Information Literacy Courses, 77-92.

Ministry of Education. (2007). New Zealand Curriculum. Retrieved from

Ministry of Education. (2013). New Zealand Curriculum Guides. Retrieved from

Ministry of Education. (2015). Deciles. Retrieved from funding/school-decile-ratings/

New Zealand Qualifications Authority. (2015). Geography subject resources. Retrieved from standards/qualifications/ncea/subjects/geography/levels/

O’Sullivan, M. K., & Dallas, K. B. (2010). A Collaborative approach to implementing 21st Century skills in a High school senior research class. Education Libraries, 33(1), 3-9.

Perkins, D. N. (1986). Thinking frames. Educational leadership, 43(8), 4-10.

Piaget, J. (1964). Development and Learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 2, 176-186.

Probert, E. (2009). Information literacy skills: Teacher understandings and practice. Computers & Education, 53, 24-33.

Punch, K. (2009). Introduction to Research Methods in Education. London: SAGE.

Richardson, V. (1997). Constructivist teacher education: Building new understandings. London: Routledge.

Qayyum, M. A., & Smith, D. (2015). Learning from student experiences for online assessment tasks. Information Research: An International Electronic Journal. 20(2).

Reece, G. J. (2007). Critical thinking and cognitive transfer: Implications for the development of online information literacy tutorials. Research Strategies, 20(2007), 482-493.

Salomon, G., & Perkins, D. N. (1989). Rocky roads to transfer: Rethinking mechanism of a neglected phenomenon. Educational psychologist, 24(2), 113-142.

Serrell, K. (2009). Finders keepers: A comparative study investigating teaching the Florida research process FINDS model through three different approaches at the elementary school level. University of Central Florida.

Scott, T. J., & O’Sullivan, M. K. (2005). Analyzing student search strategies: making a case for integrating information literacy skills into the curriculum. Teacher Librarian, 33(1), 21-25.

Thomas, N. P., Crow, S. R., & Franklin, L. L. (2011). Information Literacy and Information Skills Instruction. ABC-CLIO: Santa Barbara.

Thompson, L., & Blankinship, L. A. (2015). Teaching Information Literacy Skills to Sophomore-Level Biology Majors. Journal of microbiology & biology education, 16(1), 29.

Varlejs, J., & Stec, E. (2014). Factors Affecting Students’ Information Literacy as They Transition from High School to College. School Library Research, 17, 1-24.

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Interaction between learning and development. Readings on the development of children, 34-41.

Walton, M., & Archer, A. (2004). The web and information literacy: Scaffolding the use of web sources in a project‐based curriculum. British Journal of Educational Technology, 35(2), 173-186.

Webber, S., & Johnston, B. (2000). Conceptions of information literacy: new perspectives and implications. Journal of information science, 26(6), 381-397.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2013-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

International Journal of Education and Literacy Studies  

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.