Information Literacy and Competency Development Program

 

Introduction

 

In recent years, Internet has emerged as the most powerful medium for storage, retrieval and communication of information.  “With an unprecedented growth in the quantum of knowledge world wide and the easy accessibility, Internet has become an unavoidable necessity for every institution of higher learning and research”.  (1) The World Wide Web (www), because of its ability to work with multimedia and advance programming languages, is the fastest growing component of the Internet.  “The amount of publicly available information on the web is increasing consistently at an unbelievable rate”. (2) It has turned into “a gigantic digital library, a searchable 15 billion-world encyclopedia” (3) and is still growing every minute of a day. In addition to various huge electronic resources in public domain on Internet Delhi University Library System (DULS) subscribes to a large number of databases and is an active member of UGC-Infonet. There was a need to orient the users of entire DULS about these electronic resources for effective academic use.

 

Information Literacy and Competency (ILC) is the ability to identify information needs, seek out resources to meet those needs, and then analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and communicate the resulting knowledge. It is a core instructional pedagogy in higher education. The role of the ILC Development Program in the context of a teaching library is intended to encourage and facilitate life-long learning. In order to empower students in the pursuit of knowledge, the library professionals aim to teach them the skills of identifying, locating, and evaluating information. Among many other things, information literate students are competent, independent learners. They know their information needs and are capable of actively engaging in the world of ideas. They are confident in their ability to solve problems.

 

Information is available from many sources and in many formats, such as printed text, television, videos, library databases, web sites, and more. To be "information literate" one needs to know why, when, and how to use all of these tools and think critically about the information they provide. One can’t become information literate overnight. Just as with speaking skills and writing skills, his abilities will improve over time as he gains expertise in the topics he chooses to investigate and as he practice searching for, selecting, and evaluating the information and ideas he encounter. Thus in nut shell Information literate students:

 

·        Are competent, independent learners;

·        Actively engage in the world of ideas;

·        Confidently solve problems;

·        Know what is relevant information;

·        Use technology tools to access information and communicate;

·        Operate comfortably in situations where there are multiple answers or no answers;

·        Have high standards for their work and use information ethically;

·        Create quality products;

·        Are flexible and adapt to change;

·        Are able to function independently and in groups.

 

Library and Information Center (LIC) professionals have the task of handling the information explosion and deliver the right kind of information services to the right users at the right time. LIC professionals are expected to guide the users for using the right information and develop the skill of users. ILC facilitates to seek and evaluate right sources of information and acquire it.

 

Keeping all above facts in considerations Information Literacy and Competency Development Program in Delhi University Library System has been initiated with a view to empower the students, researchers and faculty members to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively and efficiently to achieve their educational, social, occupational and personal goals. It is a basic human right in a digital world. Information literacy and competency enables to interpret and make informed judgments as users of information sources, as well as to become producers of information in their own right.  It is a well-known fact that researchers are both the maximum consumers and producer of information.  At the planning level it was visualized that in addition to their academic requirements this program will also assist them to access information about their health, environment, and work and empowers them to make critical decisions about their future lives. While planning itself, it was also visualized that the young students of today are future researchers, scientists, economists, managers, etc.—in nutshell they are the future of our country—and the entire program has been planned accordingly.

 

Objectives


Information Literacy and Competency Development Program in Delhi University Library System has been initiated with the following objectives:

 

·        To acquaint the users with the power of Internet.

·        To provide an indication as to what is their on Internet related to their course of study;

·        To show how web resources could be of immense use in their academic pursuit and research;

·        To show the usefulness of various multimedia resources on web related on to their syllabi.

·        To describe specific features of various data bases being subscribed by DULS;

·        To promote the use of subscribed databases in academics and research.

·        To acquaint the users with the use of various search techniques to retrieve relevant information.

·        To recognize the need for information, and to evaluate, organize, interpret, and communicate information in all its formats;

·        To promote that Information Competency is for participants’ academic and vocational success and for lifelong learning.

·        To provide course-integrated instruction in collaboration with the faculty and in alignment with course objectives.

·        To establish a direct interaction between users and library professionals.

It is well understood that the success of the program is based on our understanding of curriculum and course objectives. The more we are involved in a course; the more we interact with faculty, the more effective our instruction, and our program, will be.

Methodology 

 

With above objectives in mind a series of discussions were held among selected library professionals to plan the ILC development program.  We discussed various options and ultimately unanimously decided that the program be carried out with the help of highly interactive Power Point Presentations.  It was again very challenging to decide the venue of presentation.  We had two options- the first being organizing the program at a central place located in the library and inviting the students from one department to participate and the other option was to go to the departments and make the presentations in classroom environment. After discussing all pros and cons it was again unanimously decided that it is better to go to the concerned departments and make the presentation in classroom environment.  After a great thought over the matter we, finalized that the proposed presentations in different departments should be prepared on the basis of prescribed syllabus for Post Graduate students.  Necessary correspondence with departments was made and a faculty member from each department was identified to co-ordinate with library professionals in the development of various presentations. The databases subscribed by DULS, UGC-Infonet databases and certain Public Domain data bases were selected for showing and comparing the number of citations.  Once the presentation was ready it was again shown and described to the faculty members coordinating with library from concerned department.  In most of the cases faculty members highly appreciated the presentations and desired that other faculty members from their department should also be invited to attend the presentation.  However, in few cases marathon discussion was held with faculty member for inclusion or exclusion of certain web pages.  Before the final presentation a feasibility study as regards to the technological infrastructure availability in concerned department was done and necessary arrangements were made.  It will be highly appropriate here to acknowledge the throughout co-operation received from all the teaching faculty members.

 

Presentation

 

            We started the presentation with the words of Nobel laureate   Dr. Rabindera Nath Tagore, who opined that, ‘It is a better profile of education to know how to use a library than to posses a university degree. The above opinion of Dr. Tagore was explained in the present day context expending it, as “It is a better proof of education to know how to use a library and imbibe information competency using www”.  ‘The students were hailed as future researchers and responsible citizens of country, who are to make the big difference on social, economic, religious, political and cultural level.  An introduction to entire DULS with special emphasis to the libraries attached to their course of study was given while various, collections; services and facilities were also explained.

 

The need of information in teaching, learning and research was described to the audience. Information is needed for understanding the basic concepts, for comprehensive understudying of views; for projects and seminars, and ultimately for examinations in an academic set up.  Various information sources were explained categorizing them as printed information sources and electronic information sources.  The advantages and disadvantages of both the information source category were also discussed. An indicative list of information sources covering every thing under the sky was shown to the users as Quick Reference Sources and Full Text Sources available in Public domain on the web.  A comprehensive list of subscribed databases with their URL address and brief features was discussed which also from a part of the DULS official web page. How and from where these subscribed databases can be used was also described to the audience in detail.

 

            As far as the searching of relevant information is concerned, process for both printed sources and electronic sources of information was explained to the users concluding that searching relevant information from electronic resources is on their finger tips.  A brief discussion on various kinds of searches and search strategy was also made.  Some tips regarding the theoretical foundations of effective searching were also given and described to the audience. Basic and Advance search, Phrase searching, Proximity searching, Boolean operators, Field searching, use of Controlled Vocabulary, Limiting/ Refining / Narrowing of search results were practically described to the audience from the concerned databases.

 

            The concepts selected from the P.G. Course content were at the very beginning defined with the help of Google and Xreferplus, a unique electronic reference database of above 150 well established reference sources including encyclopedia, general dictionaries, subject dictionaries, biographies etc.  Goggle can be used to define any concept under the sun.  Simply put the term in the search browser with “define: the term” and one can get relevant definitions from the web with a hyperlink to the document.  On the selected course concepts full text presentations in the form of pdf papers of web pages were also included describe the usefulness of e-content as far as their course studies are concerned. The next step was to show the users how much information is there in various databases on different concepts of their course. A web page was prepared with total number of citation from different databases on a given concept.  Almost each of the databases was search with both the options Basic and Advance search.  Primarily phrase searching or field searching was used as a basis for advanced search. In addition to citation various multimedia information as animation, images and videos were also included to show the users that concepts can be better understand with their help.  The images and videos were selected from public domain and were found very comprehensive and educative by both the faculty members and the students.

 

            Besides above all, an attempt was also made to orient the audience with the kind of very useful websites available in public domain related to their course of study.  These included the web sites dealing with subject field, scholarly societies in that subject field, organization and associations in the subject field, bibliographies, glossaries etc.  From the subscribed databases comprehensive list of journals of the concerned subject field was compiled and included in the presentation to make the audience aware about them and increase its usage.

 

            An orientation to the DULS web page containing a vast ocean of knowledge was also done for the benefit of the audience.  They were explained what is there with each icon message on the web page and how to use it effectively and efficiently. DULS has recently started E-referencing service.  The audience was encouraged to make best use of this facility.

 

 

 

Feed back Analysis

 

Any kind of orientation, ILC development or user education program is incomplete if it does not make provisions for feed back from the participants.  Keeping in view the above necessity the participants were given a well-designed feed back form at the time of presentation in all the departments.  The effectiveness and success of the entire program is well reflected in these feedbacks and thus has emerged as the most important aspect of the entire ILC development program.

 

            The ILC development program till date has been carried out in the following departments.

 

·        Department of Economics

·        Department of Geography

·        Department of Sociology

·        Department of Commerce for MIB & MHROD Course

·        Department of Philosophy

·        Department of Psychology

·        MBA (North Campus)

·        MBA-MS (South Campus)

 

Feed back from the audience were sought on the selected statements where they were requested to select one option from strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree and not sure.  The statements were:

 

1        The Presentation is focused on materials and skills that are relevant to current course assignments.

2        The Concepts clearly explained.

3        Instructional material (e.g. multimedia websites, etc) is useful.

4        The physical environment is suitable for instructions.

5        Students are more prepared to use library and www services for class assignments as a result of this session.

6        If these presentations are made available on line through library website it will be more useful

7        Do you feel that this instructional presentation is appropriate for the need of the class?

8        I am now more aware of the library services available to me as a student.

 

     Besides they were also asked to grade the over all presentation as, excellent, good, fair or poor.  An open-ended question was also asked to share any general comment or suggestion regarding the presentation or any other Library services. A detail analysis of the total feedback is made hereunder. However, subject wise analysis of the responses received from the audience in tabular form is given from table no. 2-9 Appendix-A.

 

Information Literacy and Competency Development Program has till date been conducted in above-mentioned eight departments in which 451 students have participated.   Through out the presentations the students maintained pin drop silence.  Their responses to each of the statement have been analyzed and presented in table No. 1.

 

Table No. 1

Statements

Strongly

Agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly

Disagree

N/A or          Not                

not sure   Respondent

The Presentation is focused on materials and skills that are relevant to current course assignments.

29.49%

66.74%

1.11%

0.44%

1.55%            0.67%

The Concepts clearly explained

 

23.06%

67.63%

3.77%

0.89%

1.77%             2.88%

Instructional material (e.g. multimedia websites, etc) are useful.

45.45%

49.45%

1.77%

0.44%

0.89%             2%

The physical environment is suitable for instructions.

20.18%

54.99%

11.31%

3.77%

5.54%            4.21%

Students are more prepared to use library and www services for class assignments as a result of this session.

33.48%

54.99%

3.10%

0.67%

6.43%            1.33%  

If these presentations are made available on line through library website it will be more useful

58.54%

33.26%

3.10%

1.11%

2.88%            1.11%

Do you feel that this instructional presentation is appropriate for the need of the class?

32.15%

 

60.75%

3.33%

0.67%

1.77%            1.33%

I am now more aware of the library services available to me as a student.

 

41.01%

53%

3.10%

0.67%

1.55%            0.67%

 

A close analysis of the total feedback provides very encouraging figures and facts. A total of 96.23% of the respondents have either strongly agreed or agreed that the presentation is focused on materials and skills that are relevant to their current course assignments whereas a total of 90.69% of the total respondents falling in both the categories of strongly agree and agree have found that the concept selected from their course of study is clearly explained. If we look to the other side of the coin very small negligible fraction of the total respondents have opined other wise (1.11%disagree, 0.44% strongly disagree, 1.55% not sure and 0.67% not responded to the statement that the presentation is focused on materials and skills that are relevant to their current course assignments where as 3.77% disagree, 0.89% strongly disagree, 1.77% not sure and 2.89% not reopened to the statement that concepts are clearly explained.

 

As far as the usefulness of instruction materials such as multimedia and websites are concerned 94.90% of the total respondents falling in both the categories of strongly agree and agree (45.45% Strongly Agree and 49.45% Agree) have found that instruction material useful for their course of study.   Where as 1.77% disagree, 0.44% strongly disagree, 0.89% not sure and 2% not responded to this statement. A total of 20.18% of the respondents have strongly agreed and 54.99% of respondents have agreed that the physical environment was suitable for instructions. Since the presentations were made in the concerned departments, the physical environment was different in these departments. In most of the departments it has really been very nice whereas in some departments it was not so good. That is the reason as good as 11.31% of the total respondents have discarded the suitability of the physical environment.

 

We also tried to gauge the impact of the entire presentation on the future use of library and www services in their course of study and class assignments. The success of all our honest efforts directed to make this presentation become a reality is aptly reflected on this issue. A total of 88.47% of respondents (33.48% strongly agree, 54.99% agree) have accepted that as a result of this presentation they are now more prepared to use library and www services in their study and class assignments.  A total of 58.54% of respondents strongly agreed and 33.26% of respondents have agreed to the statement that if these presentations are made available on line through library website, it will be more useful.  Likewise our efforts are in pipeline to make these presentations available online through DULS website.  Since a good portion of the presentations requires certain modification to make it online the process is delayed. As regards to the appropriateness of this instructional presentation for class needs a total of 92.90% of respondents (32.15% strongly agreed, 60.75% agreed) have found this presentation appropriate to the needs of their class and again a negligible small fraction of 0.67% disagree, 1.77% strongly disagree and 1.33% not responded have opined otherwise.  The basic purpose behind this entire effort was to make the users of DULS aware about the library services in general including the electronic resources. Keeping this objective in view some feedback was necessary regarding the impact of presentation. In this context a total of 94.01% of the respondent (41.01% strongly agree, 53% agree) have opined that after the presentations they are more informed and aware about the library services available to them as a student.  This response again supports the findings regarding the futures use of library discussed above.

 

As for as the overall grading of the presentation is concerned a total of 88.92 % of the respondents have graded the presentation from excellent to good. It has been adjudged fair by 10.86 % of the respondents. Only 01 respondent from 451 total respondents has graded the overall presentation as poor, which amounts only to 0.22 % of the total respondents and is negligible and meaningless.

 

The general comments or suggestions regarding the presentation or any other library services given in response to the open ended question provided for the purpose are listed in Appendix –B. It contains selected comments or suggestions given by the audience from each department. The corresponding number against each comment or suggestion refers to the serial number of the feed back form.

 

The success of our well-planned ILC development program was evident from the standing ovation and applause we got in all the departments when we finished our presentation.  As far as the views and suggestions of the respondents as given above are concerned we are in need of high capacity infrastructure and resources to meet out the suggestions.