Abstract

The problem at the origin of this study is that a multitude of teaching practices and technological resources have been implemented in the Université du Québec system during the last decade in order to optimize the development of the information literacy skills of the students without being able to know their effects. Our goal is to make students "info competent". In 2013 the Université du Québec system Library Services Committee felt that it was a priority to evaluate the quality of current information literacy practices in order to determine if they match with what is recommanded. In order to do so a methodological study has been conducted to validate the quality criteria for information literacy development practices. The criteria validated allowed the experimentation of the measurement process and evaluation of the quality of Information literacy instruction practices within the system.

 

In the first phase of this study more than 1 500 quality criteria have been identified in the literature. A careful work of analysis and synthesis of these criteria made it possible to retain 339 distinct criteria submitted for validation with the help of DELPHI technique applied to 18 librarians and 12 professors recognized as experts in the matter of informative literacy skills development by their peers. The validation process allowed the experts to comment on the clarity, the relevance and the importance of the criteria submitted to them. This process required two experts consultations. At the end of the exercise, 265 criteria were chosen by the librarians or professors. A significant difference of opinion between the librarians and the professors has been identified in relation to the judgment of the relevance and importance of the statements of criteria to be validated.

 

Among the 339 quality criteria validated 146 were able to be operationalised in order to exploit them in the second phase of the Study that consisted in experimenting a measurement process. This experiment made it possible to verify the behaviour of the operationalised criteria in a real measurement situation as well as the feasibility of introducing such a practice within the Université du Québec system. Amongst these operationalised criteria, 108 allowed the measure of the quality of Information literacy instruction while 38 applied to the quality of the inter-professional collaboration between the various actors and services involved in the development of student information literacy skills. The quality measure of the Information literacy instruction took place in eight institutions, about 1 760 students have received a training. As for measuring inter-professional collaboration quality, 68 respondents accepted to participate to our study (40 teachers and 28 instructor librarians).

 

All the data compiled during the experimental phase of the measurement process have been compiled with the Qualiciel software developed by the principal researcher. This software gave us the opportunity to generate a quality report for all the institutions that participated to the measurement exercise as well as a global report specifying the results obtained at the level of the Université du Québec system.

 

The third and final phase of the study experimented a process of Information literacy instructionquality evaluation practices based on the results generated during the experimentation of the measurement process. To this end, six Directors of Library Services agreed to create a quality circle within their institution. Each quality circle consisted of the Director of Library Services, two instructor librarians, two teachers and two students.

 

On the basis of the reports submitted to them, these quality circles had to identify and prioritize the strengths and weaknesses of Information literacy instruction practices within their institutions. These quality circles also had to identify and prioritize the main causes of the identified weaknesses.

 

A quality report has been produced by each quality circle and submitted to the research team which proceeded to an analyse and synthesis of all reports submitted to generate a global portrait of strengths and weaknesses in Information literacy instruction quality practices. Blake and Mouton’s weighted voting technique has been used to identify and prioritize strengths and weaknesses at Université du Québec system level. The strengths of the Information literacy instruction practices are in order: instructor’s delivery; instructor’s expertise; relation with the teacher; Information literacy instruction design; and infrastructure. The weak points identified are in order: collaboration; teaching methods; instructor’s workload; infrastructure; continuing education; learning assessment and promotion.

 

The analysis of the results obtained in this study shows a clear difference of perspective between the librarians and the professors. This difference of perspective is complicated by the fact that the main weak point identified in information literacy development practices is the lack of inter-professional collaboration between actors and services involved. In addition to being the main weak point identified within the Université du Québec system, low collaboration has also been identified as the most important cause attributed to the second weak point (pedagogical methods).

 

The discussion presents the distinction between notion of inter-professional relationship and genuine collaboration within members of a team. As such, Levan’s model (2009) presenting the collaboration cycle is widely discussed and supported by the interdependence continuum of Little (1990; cited in Beaumont et al., 2010). This discussion demonstrates the magnitude of the challenge we face if we want to ensure that those involved in the development of information literacy move from a relationship characterized only as informal social exchanges toward a genuine collaboration implying the adoption of a common framework of reference and sharing of expertise, resources and the responsibility in the pursuit of a common mission.

 

Keywords: Information literacy, Information literacy Instruction, Quality, Interprofessionnal collaboration, Evaluation, Interdisciplinarity.