Information Literacy Skills of Children in The Early School Years

The basis of all learning is information. The notion of learning lies at the heart of information literacy. For example, information literacy is sometimes promoted as an approach to learning, or a way of learning. Very often the exercise for children in early school age is to investigate beyond the textbook about an item or subject, a phenomenon or a term. They are usually aware that they are unable to fulfil the exercise by themselves and ask their parents or siblings for help. Children learn through experiences and in the preschool age they begin to develop their independence, but they are aware they still need the parents’ help when they want to know or do something, especially when they obtain information about something from unknown or new sources (Shenton & Dixon, 2004). The idea of informed learning was developed to direct attention toward those interpretations of information literacy that involve using information to learn (Bruce, Hughes & Somerville, 2012, p. 524). Therefore, in order for an individual to be able to participate promptly and actively in a world saturated with information, it is necessary to work from an early age on the development of information skills that deal with proper procedures in the sea of information. However, the authors mostly focus on the development of information skills in adults or older children, but very few authors decide to explore information skills in young children through library services (Barriage, 2021). It is suggested that children can engage in evaluation and application of knowledge which influences their academic outcomes (Greene, Cartiff & Duke, 2018). Eisenberg and Berkowitz (1999) dedicated part of their work to the youngest users of the library, including preschool children. In their work, they designed the Super3 program specially for information literacy of preschool and early school age children. Eisenberg and Berkowitz in the extended version of Big6 single out the skills that need to be acquired in order for an individual to be an information literate person, but for children these skills are simplified to: plan, do and review, also called as Super3 (https://thebig6.org). The aim of this research is to investigate the basic knowledge of children, age 5 to 8 years old in Croatia, about information and sources of information and about their basic information literacy skills. The research questions are: 1. What does the concept of information mean to early school-age children?; 2. What kind of sources of information do early school-age children use?; 3. How do early school-age children actively seek information by themselves?; and 4. Are workshops based on Super 3 an appropriate method to teach information literacy skills of early school-age children? Methods applied in this research are survey, in-depth interviews and action research – with carefully designed materials and workshop for teaching information skills using Super 3. Results of this research show that children in the early school years have poorly developed information literacy skills, due to their age, this was to be expected. Furthermore, they hardly understand the meaning of the term information, where the information came from and how one can find them. The problem lies in the fact that children are expected to already be familiar with the concept of information at the entering school and know how to handle it for the purpose of completing school assignments, without prior training in this field. After this workshop we can conclude children’s knowledge and skills are improved. The workshops within this action research serve as a kind of guidelines for the organization and implementation of such workshops for intentional teaching information skills of children in the early school years. Furthermore, it plays on a basic approach to supporting planning and implementation school library programs for developing and improvement of information literacy skills of children from early school age.

References

  • Barriage, S. (2021). Young children’s information-seeking practices in center-based childcare. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 54(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/0961000620962164
  • Bruce, C., Hughes, H. & Somerville, M. M. (2012). Supporting informed learners in the twenty-first century library. Trends, 60(3), 522–554.
  • Shenton, A., & Dixon, P (2004). The development of young people’s information-seeking behaviour. Library and Information Research, 28(90). https://doi.org/10.29173/lirg172
  • Eisenberg, M. B., & Berkowitz, R. E. (1999). Teaching information & technology skills. Worthington, OH: Linworth.
  • Greene, J. A., Cartiff, B. M., & Duke, R. F. (2018). A meta-analytic review of the relationship between epistemic cognition and academic achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 110(8), 1084–1111. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/edu0000263
  • Nelson, A.C.H., & Du Puis, D. N. (2010). The adventures of Super3. Linworth.
  • Bartow, C. et al. (2018). The Big6. Retrieved from https://thebig6.org

Mihaela Grgić, Ivana Martinović
University of Josip Juraj Strossmayer, Osijek, Croatia

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