Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Information Access and Evaluation Skills of Secondary School Students in Ghana

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Information Access and Evaluation Skills of Secondary School Students in Ghana

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Information users are confronted with an avalanche of information from different kinds of sources making it difficult to verify their authenticity. However, young students have an even stronger need to be able to identify what is relevant for learning and recreational purposes as exposure to too much information may be counter-productive as a result of information overload (Yan, Sha, Yan, & Shang, 2015). Information Literacy (IL) provides students with the critical skills needed to find and evaluate the information they need for their academic work and personal lives. After graduation, IL can help newly-graduated secondary school students to make an easier transition to young adulthood (Maughan, 2001 cited in Badke, 2008), while preparing for university.

Even though secondary school students are expected to be independent information users at the time of graduation (Majid, Chang, & Foo, 2016), this is probably not the case in Ghana, as IL is not integrated into the secondary school curriculum as it pertains in some countries (Majid et al., 2016). Furthermore, a few public and private universities in Ghana have commenced teaching IL to their first-year students. Secondary school students need a basic understanding of this concept before entering university where expectations to be independent in using information is high. Additionally, if lifelong learning capabilities are to be inculcated into students, educational institutions at the pre-university level must integrate IL into their curriculum (Onyebuchi & Ngwuchukwu, 2013).

Despite the awareness of the relevance of IL among library professionals culminating in numerous studies by researchers around the world, there is little, if any that is dedicated to the Ghanaian IL terrain. van Aalst, Hing, May, and Yan (2007) investigated into the Information Search Process (ISP) of 12th Grade students in Hong Kong where they found students' inadequate skills in completing the Information Search Process. Chang et al. (2012) developed a scale to measure the IL skills of students in Singapore and found, among others, that most of their respondents possessed lower-order IL skills in information seeking than higher-level skills such as evaluation. Majid, Chang, and Foo (2016) found positive student IL scores among secondary school students in Singapore, compared to the results of previous studies. They, however, discovered that students preferred easily available human sources for information assistance rather than their school librarians. A quick reading of this summary of findings shows that the contexts of these studies are in the much-developed areas of Asia. In Africa, a recent study on IL at the pre-university level was conducted by Onyebuchi and Ngwuchukwu (2013). Their study was an experiment of IL in primary school libraries in Enugu in Nigeria. They found that pupils in the experimental group who were provided IL instruction performed better in projects than those who were not in the experimental group. To this end, it is appropriate to find out to what extent the IL skills of secondary school students in Ghana are comparable to their counterparts in countries where IL has been integrated into the educational curriculum. Furthermore, most of the existing studies pointed out to students' weak evaluation skills as a result of over-concentration on lower-order IL outcomes. In the light of this trend, this research explores two Ghanaian secondary school students' perspectives of IL with specific reference to their abilities in information seeking (access) skills and evaluation. The uniqueness of this study is in the fact that, unlike some of the countries where literature on IL at the secondary school level abounds, IL has not been integrated into the secondary school curriculum in Ghana.

2. Literature Review

According to the Library Bill of Rights (2014) of the American Library Association "The school library plays a unique role in promoting, protecting, and educating about intellectual freedom. …

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