The evolution of an embedded information literacy module: using student feedback and the research literature to improve student performance

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Allison Kavanagh


The purpose of this paper is to describe the development and evolution of the embedded information literacy (IL) module for first year BSc in Marketing students in X institution over a three year period between 2007-8 and 2009-10. It describes the pedagogical theories underlining the teaching and assessment of the course in its original format, the reflective practice in which the library team engaged, and the subsequent changes made to the teaching and assessment of the course, informed by the research literature. The study uses performance in the assessment task, student feedback drawn from survey questionnaires and a focus group as the methods of data collection, although the analysis also takes into account anecdotal evidence. The paper provides details of the correlation each year between student performance in the information literacy and marketing components of the assessment task. It outlines the students’ evaluations of the course and, for the latter two years, it examines their perception of their information literacy skills before and after the embedded module. The issues raised in the feedback from students, the library team, and academic staff members were addressed using techniques drawn from the research literature. This involved underpinning the feedback and formative assessment for the programme with a student centred approach by introducing discussion board assignments to the course, and drawing on students’ existing knowledge and experience by using worksheets at the start of class. The timing of the IL classes was also changed in 2008-9 to align them more closely with the assessment deadline. In addition, instructions in relation to the assessment task were rewritten and clarified in 2008-9 and 2009-10. The modifications made resulted in an improvement in student performance (as measured by the mean mark) in the IL assessment task, and in an increase in the correlation between the marks for the IL and marketing components of the assignment. The study has some limitations, while student feedback indicated a significant increase in students’ confidence in their IL skills, the study did not examine at any stage whether this increase in confidence resulted in a change in their IL practice. Furthermore, while most students in the 2007-8 cohort indicated that they would apply what they had learned in the IL component to other courses, there is only anecdotal evidence that this actually happened. Nevertheless, the discussion on the issues and challenges experienced in relation to the teaching and assessment of an embedded information literacy module, and the analysis of the impact of the solutions introduced to address these issues should make this paper relevant to practitioners engaged in the delivery and assessment of similar IL modules.

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KAVANAGH, Allison. The evolution of an embedded information literacy module: using student feedback and the research literature to improve student performance. Journal of Information Literacy, [S.l.], v. 5, n. 1, p. 5-22, june 2011. ISSN 1750-5968. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 28 sep. 2022. doi:
information literacy; embedded; assessment; academic libraries; student performance; undergraduate information literacy
Peer reviewed articles from LILAC