Academic journal article Journal of Information Technology Education

Using Clickers to Support Information Literacy Skills Development and Instruction in First-Year Business Students

Academic journal article Journal of Information Technology Education

Using Clickers to Support Information Literacy Skills Development and Instruction in First-Year Business Students

Article excerpt


The development of information literacy skills in a discipline-specific context is a critical element contributing to students' academic success (Boudreau & Bicknell-Holmes, 2003; Feast, 2003; Wu & Kendall, 2005), and confidence and retention (Goldfinch & Hughes, 2007; Gross & Latham, 2007; Oliver, 2008). Moreover information literacy is acknowledged as one of the critical attributes that employers require of Business graduates entering the workforce (Department of Education, Science and Training [DEST], 2007; Drucker (1995), cited in Wu & Kendall, 2005; O'Donoghue & Maguire, 2004). The main aims of this study were to (1) identify the baseline level of information literacy in first year undergraduate business students; (2) to gather quantitative data regarding students' understanding of consistently difficult concepts in relation to information literacy and their written assignment work and (3) to gauge student perceptions of the use of clickers to facilitate their attention and active learning in information literacy classes.

The structure of this paper is as follows: first we reviewed the empirical literature on information literacy, the use of clickers to facilitate active learning and identified what are perceived to be impediments in using clickers in classes. Next we described and justified the methodological approach deployed in this study. Then we presented and discussed the results of our data analysis regarding the use of clickers in information literacy classes for first year undergraduate business students. Last we presented our conclusions and implications of this study for existing knowledge and future work in the use of clickers to facilitate active learning and participation in undergraduate courses.

Review of Background Literature for This Study

Information Literacy and the Business Student

Information literacy (IL), is defined in the Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL) Framework as the ability to

recognise a need for information, determine the extent of information needed, access information efficiently, critically evaluate information and its sources; classify, store, manipulate and redraft information collected or generated; incorporate selected information into their knowledge base [and] use information effectively to learn, create new knowledge, solve problems and make decisions. (Bundy, 2004, p. 3)

Essentially, an information literate person can locate information relevant to a particular need from an appropriate source, judge its quality and 'fit-for-purpose' and then apply the information to the need in an ethical manner. It obviously requires a level of critical thinking (Reece, 2007), and the underpinning principles need to be explicitly included in the curriculum. Information literacy skills are not merely the by-products (Johnston & Webber, 2006) of a higher education degree (or any other level of education), but require a considered, integrated approach built on sound pedagogical practice (Kocevar-Weidinger & Cooperstein, 2003; Weisskirch & Silveria, 2007). The development and use of these skills are obviously not confined to the learning environment, but also applicable to workplace settings, especially as leveraging information represents a competitive advantage for business (Kikoski & Kikoski, 2004). Information literacy has become critically important as work becomes increasingly knowledge based in modern economies.

Clickers: What Are They?

Clickers, or student response devices, are not a new technology. A review of existing literature indicates similar devices were used as early as the 1960's (Judson & Sawada, 2002). Whilst the basic principle has remained unchanged, the devices have developed significantly with the advent of increased processing power of microprocessors and wireless telecommunication. Currently the system works by providing a specific communication channel between portable keypad devices usually referred to as a clickers, a USB receiver (hardware) using specific radio wave frequencies. …

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