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MILA Information literacy impact framework

This post by Dr Peter Cruickshank, Dr Bruce Ryan, and Marina Milosheva (Edinburgh Napier University) has been republished with permission from MILA. The original post is available on the MILA website.

We are proud to announce the release of the results of a review of literature on information literacy (IL) impact. We believe it is the beginning of a process of creating a framework for impactful IL interventions, including the development of parameters to guide impact assessments.

The report is based around a literature review we carried out in April – May 2022. The main work was paring an initial set of over 6000 results down to a shortlist of 26 papers covering a range of regions, contexts and methods of study. This was followed by an evaluation how these papers’ authors undertook IL interventions.

Our evaluation identified the outlines of the components of impactful IL interventions, which are:

  • evaluation should be around effectiveness and outcomes
  • choice of clear frameworks and structures to measure impact
  • ensuring integration and relevance of the intervention
  • collaboration between stakeholders
  • design of content and delivery methods
  • repetition and follow-up
  • management buy-in and budget

It is proposed in the report that the IL impact framework sketched above should be developed, taking into account the contextual and methodological differences found. This should be inclusive
and flexible enough to be applied across a variety of settings, and begin to establish methodological and conceptual standards for IL impact assessment.

The first step on this process would be testing and validation of the draft framework in conjunction with MILA and CILIP’s Information Literacy Group (ILG), using institutional case studies and/or with reference to recognised works on development of impact.

As well as developing the findings into an academic article, we hope to be able to present the findings at LILAC 2023 or CILIP’s annual conference.

The report is free to circulate and can be viewed and downloaded at the end of this post.

We are grateful to Edinburgh Napier University for the ‘starter grant’ that funded this study, and to Stéphane Goldstein for liaison with MILA.

Information literacy (IL) – defined as the ability to find, understand, use, manage, and communicate information – is an essential capability for living and working in the digital age. IL interventions could potential improvement engagement with information across work, education, and leisure settings.

In the past, despite some work in the higher education and library sectors, the impact of IL interventions across settings such as work, leisure, healthcare has not been well studied. This is in
part because there is no agreed definition of IL intervention impact and there are no set parameters to guide impact assessments.

Report co-authors Bruce Ryan and Marina Milosheva, both members of the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University, started collaborating with MILA soon after its creation in 2021. IL is a key part of their research interests. Hence both were keen to make contributions to MILA’s work, seeing it as an avenue for academic research that would have tangible societal benefits.

Both independently joined the MILA working group scoping a literature review of the impact of IL on society. During this working group’s deliberations, it became clear that it would first be necessary to define what ‘impact’ means in this context. That was the starting point for this project.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh Napier University was offering small starter grants for projects that would help develop research skills. Peter Cruickshank has supervised and mentored aspects Ryan’s
research, and is also Milosheva’s Director of Studies. He was hence the natural choice to lead Ryan and Milosheva’s IL/MILA work. Together they developed a successful funding bid, leading to this report and underpinning future activities outlined in it.

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