Information skills and learning at Maastricht University
In the current digital age, a major key for students is being information literate in order to become independent learners and adaptive workers of tomorrow. Today’s immense load of information, in a wide variety of forms, asks students to acquire and apply a broad set of 21st-century skills (such as critical thinking, metacognitive skills, problem-solving, and digital skills) to steer their way through this “information jungle”. In general, information literacy is indicated as “the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning”. In other words, students’ competences to access, process, and assess information are essential to learning in a changing information landscape.
In recent years, students obtained a greater role in actively constructing knowledge and being able to use information, digital tools, and data both ethically and critically. To prepare students for these new conditions, higher education institutes need to adapt their information literacy concepts and teaching according to the changing nature of information use. In most universities, however, information literacy education is still seen as a separate part of students’ subject content and learning process.
Aim of monograph
The purpose of this monography is therefore to identify, conceptualize, and outline effective measures to align information literacy with student’s learning and academic success. The monography includes three research paper - all approaching information literacy in the context of the PBL-based Maastricht University (UM).
The first paper (by Lea Ferguson) describes a quick scan to investigate – by means of a survey - the ability of UM students to effectively access and critically assess academic information. The output yield several recommendations, such as tying information literacy skills courses into students’ ongoing courses at UM and conducting more in-depth qualitative and quantitative research.
The purpose of the second paper (by Jaro Pichel, Stefan Jongen, and Harm Hospers) was to perform a literature review of articles that address the recent developments of information literacy, focusing in particular on research in a PBL setting. This literature review drew on the integration of information literacy skills into the curriculum, with a special interest in constructive alignment.
The third paper (by Stefan Jongen, Jaro Pichel, Frederike Vernimmen-de Jong, and Harm Hospers) reviewed several studies, which described how to analyse information as part of the learning process. Based on the informed learning theory, this narrative review discussed possibilities to collect and assess data about the link between information and the learning process to receive insights for both teachers and students at UM.