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From secondary education to beyond: information literacy to support young people’s educational transitions - Smith

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Presented at LILAC 2017

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From secondary education to beyond: information literacy to support young people’s educational transitions - Smith

  1. 1. From Secondary Education to Beyond: Information Literacy to Support Young People’s Educational Transitions Dr Lauren Smith, Research Associate, Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde @walkyouhome
  2. 2. Overview • Background: Inequality of opportunity • Context: Reasons for inequality • Information The role of information • Interventions Ideas for libraries Image CC Duncan C
  3. 3. Theoretical lens: capabilities • Identify and evaluate social structures and institutional conditions that enable different individuals to make choices about what they want to be and do • Relationship between resources and ability of individuals to convert these into valued capabilities and make choices that influence outcomes • Freedom of individual agency is qualified and constrained by social, political and economic factors and opportunities (Wilson-Strydom 2011)
  4. 4. BACKGROUND Inequality in access to university
  5. 5. Inequitable access to education and employment • Students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to enter higher education • Differences in earnings associated with a higher education qualification contribute to a cycle of income inequality • HE systems can function as both engines of social mobility and inequality • 86% of Scottish medical students have parents from the highest-ranked professions, the largest proportion of the four UK nations (Steven et al. 2016)
  6. 6. “Young people negotiating their transitions to adulthood, independence and work are faced with unprecedented levels of choice and opportunity, but also far greater levels of uncertainty and risk.” (Kahn, Abdo et al., 2011) Information in transition CC0
  7. 7. Inequitable transitions • Disadvantaged young people are using ICTs more to engage in employment related activities • They are less likely than their peers to succeed, even partially, through this medium (46% compared to 65% of their employed peers) (Helsper and Smirnova 2016) CC Marina Noordegraaf
  8. 8. CONTEXT Barriers to accessing higher education and factors influencing post-school choices
  9. 9. Cuts and resource shortages • Connexions • AimHigher • Careers education and guidance cuts in schools • 729 teaching posts vacant across primary and secondary schools in Scotland in September 2016 • A third of specialist school library staff in Scotland have been cut since 2010 • Cuts in schools mean everyone is under pressure – including librarians
  10. 10. Capital Economic CulturalSocial Several factors hinder access to HE for students from low income households in Scotland. These include: • Low academic attainment; • Grade-based admissions; • Requirements for personal statements and interviews; • The cost of going to university; • Concerns about the perceived costs of university and the burden of debt; • Family understanding of HE and options; • Teacher knowledge and understanding of HE; • Confidence levels and fears of ‘not fitting in’; • Subject choices made at school.
  11. 11. Confidence • To be able to live independently • To move away from home • To make the right choices about subjects • To navigate funding options and affordability
  12. 12. “There is no road map…where you can type in, "I have higher English, National 5 Maths." This is where I want to go. There is no way of easily navigating a route from your starting point.” CC davidatkinson89
  13. 13. “University websites can be a really baffling place for them to access, really baffling. Even as an adult…there’s no continuity across websites. Things are laid out in language which is – to be frank – shocking for someone to be able to understand it.” CC Todd Dailey
  14. 14. “The characters are on the screen, but to work out what it actually means requires a flow chart, a diagram and a Ouija board. It’s ridiculous. So kids come up and say, “What does this mean?” and I’m, “Oh, come on, let’s have a look…no, actually what does that mean?” CC Gabriel Molina
  15. 15. “I think information again, is the big one. Also knowing how to assess that information, this is something that we've put a bit of emphasis on is that, students are able to assess the information that they're given and to know how to deal with that…Which is…to do with schools and critical thinking and things like that.” CC Tony Cheng
  16. 16. “There are kids without computers at home.” Digital access and literacy at home 67% of young people have someone available to help them out if they need support with ICT related issues, but less than a quarter have asked for that help. (Hesper and Smirnova 2016) CC EFF Photos
  17. 17. How can we address the problem? Recommendations from our research 1) Increase ring-fenced university places 2) Encourage HEIs to increase access 3) Address the attainment gap 4) Increase access to scholarships and grants 5) Improve articulation 6) Examine the effectiveness of contextual admissions Sosu et al. (2016) 7) Provide both school-wide and targeted outreach 8) Select pupils for inclusion in outreach appropriately 9) Improve teacher knowledge of HE 10) Ensure guidance is impartial 11) Develop parity of outcome for pupils involved in SHEP 12) Streamline the widening access landscape
  18. 18. Provide both school-wide and targeted outreach • Targeted approach to outreach • Complemented with school-wide outreach and guidance • Schemes may act as a motivator for academic attainment and aspirational post-school plans CC0
  19. 19. Improve teacher knowledge Teachers play an important role in pupils’ decision-making. It is important for teachers to be knowledgeable about both the HE application process and the different pathways available. CC0
  20. 20. Ensure guidance is impartial Young people must be able to make optimum choices based on their own interests with the support of impartial guidance.
  21. 21. Existing and emerging support • Information • Websites • Outreach • Intergenerational mentoring • Summer schools • Parents’ evenings General trend in providing more information Lack of focus on how to use information and structural barriers to converting information into action
  22. 22. “The schemes that exist to support disadvantaged young people do not explicitly focus on differing information literacy capacities of young people and their families, which may influence information behaviour and decision-making.” (Connor et al., 2001)
  23. 23. INFORMATION Relevance of access to information and information literacy
  24. 24. What role does information play? • Not having access to information and technology at home • Not knowing where to go for useful information • Not being able to tell ‘good’ information from ‘bad’ • Not being able to tell when information is biased • Not knowing how to make decisions based on information
  25. 25. Information sources • Open days • Websites • Parents • Friends • Teachers • League tables • News items • Careers advisors • University visits CC Eilidh McAuley
  26. 26. “I think the websites are quite difficult to navigate through, especially St Andrews, Dundee, Edinburgh: they’ve got a similar layout on their websites, and it’s hard to find information, and I think that puts off people. So when you’re applying and you’re you’re doing your research, you’re like, “I can’t even work out the website, so how I going to work out how to be a student that university?”” Navigating and understanding online information CC PDPics
  27. 27. INTERVENTIONS How can school and academic libraries support educational transitions?
  28. 28. Libraries can provide access to resources “Students from low income households may not be able to buy the same sort of supportive resources. A good number of families from my school could barely put enough food on the table.”
  29. 29. Libraries can provide study space “Some students from low income households live in ‘a crowded flat, maybe sharing a bedroom with two brothers and a sister. They've got nowhere to do homework and the local libraries are all shut down.” “Students need help and support - ‘space where they can go and do their homework in peace.” CC0
  30. 30. Librarians can be role models and mentors • Students talked about how they valued teachers who encouraged them to go further and do more • Influence of teachers who saw students’ potential in certain subjects • Librarians can encourage young people to do well and identify their own proficiencies • Effort and commitment of teachers required to…send positive signals (Furlong 2005) • Impact of encouragement is greatest for students in the middle third of academic achievement and those with lower levels of parental education (Alcott 2017)
  31. 31. Librarians could provide digital literacy support "Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills."
  32. 32. Librarians need critical information literacy • Librarians need to apply critical information literacy to the technology they encourage students to use • Some software uses data to tell teenagers which subjects they should study • Need to understand that systems are biased (citations) – gender and race • If this technology is going to be used we need to teach students to be critical users of the tools • Students need help to develop the agency to challenge systems that reinforce stereotypes and inequity Image CC Robin Zebrowsky
  33. 33. Algorithms are not neutral • Mann and O’Neill (2016) Hiring Algorithms Are Not Neutral, Harvard Business Review • Sydell (2016) Can Computers Be Racist? The Human-Like Bias Of Algorithms, NPR “Google’s online advertising system…showed an ad for high- income jobs to men much more often than it showed the ad to women” Miller (2015) When Algorithms Discriminate, New York Times Angela Pashia, LILAC 2017
  34. 34. Librarians could support information literacy and evaluation • Prospectuses: large professional university marketing departments, often supported by specialist advertising agencies (Bok, 2003) • Career choice personality tests: based on Myers-Briggs, which might be a bit bunk and reproduce under- representation and a lack of diversity in different fields
  35. 35. Partnering with widening access schemes • Campus visits • Activity days • Information literacy projects embedded in school curriculum • Digital literacy workshops • Supporting intergenerational mentoring schemes • Becoming a mentor CC Nick Youngson
  36. 36. Partnering with university outreach projects: Strathclyde example • Led by Dr David Thomson in Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences • S2 pupils (12-13 years old) conducted an online research project to find information about the effect of substance abuse on the brain • Websites identified by the academic staff and PhD students, approved by teacher • Project continued with teacher and pupils in lesson time • Divided sources into three categories: scientific data, propaganda and opinion • Produced poster to share findings with guidance on scientific posters • This information literacy exercise could be developed into an activity pack for rolling out across other schools – teachers and school librarians
  37. 37. SHARING BEST PRACTICE AND EXPERIENCES What has worked at your institution? What do you need to make it work?
  38. 38. References and useful links Buchanan, S., & Tuckerman, L. (2016). The information behaviours of disadvantaged and disengaged adolescents. Journal of Documentation, 72(3), 527–548. Connaway, L. S., Dickey, T. J., & Radford, M. L. (2011). “If it is too inconvenient I’m not going after it:” Convenience as a critical factor in information-seeking behaviors. Library and Information Science Research, 33(3), 179–190. Connor, H. (2001). Deciding for or against participation in higher education. Higher Education Quarterly, 55(2), 204–224 Furlong, A. (2005) Cultural dimensions of decisions about educational participation among 14‐ to 19‐year‐olds: the parts that Tomlinson doesn't reach. Journal of Education Policy, 20:3, 379-389, DOI: 10.1080/02680930500117362 Greenbank, P. (2011). Improving the process of career decision making: an action research approach. Education & Training, 53(4), 252–266. Greenbank, P., & Hepworth, S. (2008). Improving the career decision-making behaviour of working class students. Journal of European Industrial Training, 32(7), 492–509. Helsper, E. J., & Smirnova, S. (2016). Slipping Through the Net: Are disadvantaged young people being left further behind in the digital era? Princes Trust, London. Julien, H. (1999). Barriers to Adolescents’ Information Seeking for Decision Making, 50(12015), 38–48. Kahn, L., Abdo, M. et al. (2011). The way to work: Young people speak out on transitions to employment. London: The Young Foundation Malone, H. J. (2013). The Search Stage: When, Where, and What Information Do Urban Public High School Students Gather about College. Journal of School Counseling, 11(13). Sosu, E. M., Smith, L. N., McKendry, S., Santoro, N. & Ellis, S. (2016). “Widening Access to Higher Education for Students from Economically Disadvantaged Backgrounds: What Works and Why?”
  39. 39. Thank You @walkyouhome