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4.1 Information literacy skills

Alongside any integration of Reference Management tools with a learning environment it is necessary to consider how students will gain and maintain the skills to make best use of the tools, and to manage and use references effectively.

In 2001 a SCONUL (Standing Council of National and University Libraries) position paper stated that “Both the literature and practitioners support the absolute necessity of information skills work being integrated into the subject curriculum”. The integration of Reference Management tools into the learning environment is an opportunity to consider how information literacy skills are integrated into the curriculum.

A good starting point for considering the Information Literacy skills you wish to support are the benchmarks for information skills developed at South Bank University, described by Peter Godwin in 2002[1]. These benchmarks describe 7 ‘information skills’, with each information skill being broken down into ‘competencies’ which indicate what might be expected of students at different levels of Higher Education.

Information skill 6 is “Organizing, applying and communicating information sources to others” and broken down into the following competencies:

Level 0 (Foundation)
  • Understanding the need to keep records of searches and resources found
Level 1 (Undergraduate Year One)
  • Ability to keep basic records of searches made and resources found
  • Ability to cite printed and electronic sources used for essay preparation as a book list
  • Compliance with copyright and plagiarism rules
Level 2 (Undergraduate Year 2)
  • Ability to create bibliography of variety of materials  used  to write essays
Level 3 (Undergraduate Year 3)
  • Ability to keep systematic records of material found for major project
  • Ability to compile a comprehensive bibliography of different types of sources : books, journals, Web sites, videos,  and use  either Harvard referencing  or referencing  as specified by the course,  and to reference electronic materials.
  • Understanding of copyright issues on the Web
Level M (Masters Level)
  • Ability to construct major bibliography and reference range of materials in a major project

While integrating reference management tools into a learning environment consider how these competencies will be supported, and the level of students using the tools.

[1] Godwin, P. (2003) ‘Information literacy, but at what level?’ in Allan Martin and Hannelore Rader (eds) Information and IT literacy : enabling learning in the 21st century,London, Facet.

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