Only connect: a phenomenographic study exploring stakeholders' conceptions of information literacy across an international middle school community.
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CUNNINGHAM, V. 2017. Only connect: a phenomenographic study exploring stakeholders' conceptions of information literacy across an international middle school community. Robert Gordon University, DInfSci thesis.
The dynamic information context is challenging school communities to calibrate their ways of understanding information literacy. However empirical research reports a lack of shared understanding and vision around information literacy that is negatively impacting its development. The solution it is argued is to increase the level of multi stakeholder dialogue about the information literacy phenomenon. The purpose of this study was to create a platform for dialogue within an international school community by identifying and comparing conceptions of information literacy across multiple stakeholder groups to proactively inform information literacy practice. Working within the qualitative paradigm and invoking a phenomenographic methodological approach the research drew from a trans-disciplinary theoretical background in the information, management and education sciences. Using recorded focus group discussions stakeholders including students, parents, teachers, library staff, IT personnel, administration and leadership shared their perceptions of the information context as a stepping stone to sharing their conceptions of information literacy. The findings show that stakeholder groups perceived the information context to be characterised by environmental, social human and affective dimensions; that stakeholders did not hold one singular conception of information literacy but rather they shared a series of conceptions of information literacy to varying degrees, and that the variation in the ways information literacy was conceptualised prevailed across three continuums namely the individual-collective, affective-cognitive and competency–personal mastery continuums. Furthermore, the comparative analysis of the series of conceptions of information literacy created the opportunity to develop a model of the common ground of conceptual understanding of information literacy thereby making an original contribution to knowledge. The study provides compelling insights for information literacy practitioners recommending that a shared conceptual understanding of information literacy requires accommodating its complex socio-contextual nature and anchoring that understanding in the philosophical, pedagogical and strategic thinking of the learning community.