Article Authored By: Efrat Pieterse, Riki Greenberg, Zahava Santo
Reviewed by: Esther Park, Lisa Hoang, Ashley Marshall, Elizabeth Nordblad
Link to article: https://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/comminfolit/vol12/iss2/4/
Many first-year students find it hard to use information resources in the library to develop their information literacy skills. This study focused on the information literacy skills of native Hebrew-speaking students (HE students) and native Arabic-speaking students, who speak Hebrew as a second language (AR students). It was determined that HE students preferred digital resources while AR students preferred printed resources. AR students, who did not trust their Hebrew comprehension, preferred print materials because they could make notes directly on them. The AR students also tended to use more library resources, including the help of a librarian, and ready-made assignments while the HE students did not. This study supports AR students’ need for more media in dimensions of information literacy compared to HE students, in previous research. This article represents an international perspective because we are looking at how bilingual students compile and use their resources. We see how one’s upbringing and learning environment contributes to preferences for resources. This article provides insight into information literacy and how students’ engagement with information is impacted by their primary or secondary language.
Core Research Questions
Pieterse, Greenberg, and Santo (2018) were interested in learning if the information literacy skills of first-year Israeli college students differed depending on the students’ cultural diversity. In other studies, cultural diversity has proven to impact how people interact with information (Chai, 2008; Eshet-Alkalai & Geri, 2007; Walsh, Durrant, & Simpson, 2015; Yoo & Huang, 2011; as cited in Pieterse, Greenberg, and Santo, 2018). The study included Israeli students, whose primary language was Hebrew, and Israeli Arabs, whose primary language was Arabic. The two student groups studied in this article attended elementary and secondary schools separately and received instruction in their primary language. The researchers specifically wanted to know how these first-year linguistically diverse college students perceived their information literacy skills and the differences in perception of said skills between the two language groups. Additionally, researchers wanted to know what barriers hindered the development of information literacy. The purpose statement of the study and research questions, taken from the article are listed below:
The purpose of the research is to examine the students’ self-perception regarding their
information literacy skills and to identify environmental barriers that cause a digital gap.
The research questions are:
1. How do first-year students perceive and evaluate their information literacy skills?
a) How do they assess their skills in using information technology?
b) How do they perceive their abilities in the academic information search
c) Do students critically check the information sources they retrieve for
their academic use?
d) Are students aware of ethical and social perspectives of information
2. Is there a digital gap among students from the different native language groups (Hebrew and Arabic) in the first year? (Pieterse, Greenberg, and Santo, 2018, p. 111-112).
A questionnaire was administered to 125 first-year students during the initial class meeting in an online course on information and databases that provided basic instruction on information literacy skills. The questionnaire was in the college’s main written and spoken language of Hebrew and consisted of three parts: (1) demographic questions (age, gender, language); (2) digital accessibility questions (access to computers and internet at home as well as the level of comfortability); and (3) information literacy dimensions (with a rating of 1 to 5 on various statements). The questionnaire used the content validation approach and a factor analysis test. The purpose of the method of survey was to determine any correlation between demographics, access, and level of proficiency in finding and using information.
Findings and Conclusions
Ninety-five out of a hundred and twenty-five surveys were analyzed. Among the survey participants, 73% were native Arabic speakers (AR students) while 27% were native Hebrew speakers (HE students). The findings in this study resemble other studies in the literature. Both groups declared confidence in their proficiency in using digital information tools and most thought they were above average when performing internet searches. Other studies claim that this mindset is typical of digital natives, a term coined by Marc Prensky, which generalized individuals who were born into a digital culture with the innate ability to think and talk in digital. However, in 2015, Walsh, Durrant, and Simpson’s study found that new technologies are not as accessible to multicultural students from minority groups, despite being digital natives. This was confirmed with the HE students reporting higher proficiency in their ability to solve computer problems than their AR student counterparts. This study also reported that AR students preferred print materials to digital, while HE students preferred digital resources. However, with academic assignments, both groups preferred print materials.
In comparison to HE students, this study found that AR students tend to use the library discovery tools, thus reinforcing past research of the study of information behaviors of Israeli students. In this study, when students were asked about their ethical and social perspectives of information use, the study reported that both groups received assistance from friends and used Wikipedia as an academic resource. There was a significant difference between AR and HE students regarding submitting copied work. Several AR students reported using ready-made assignments, while HE students did not. This finding might be due to a different cultural background with varied awareness of academic culture and conventions or that AR students did not understand the survey question correctly. Despite study limitations, this study examines the various aspects of the information literacy of Israeli students at the beginning of their studies.
What can American libraries learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations?
From this article, American libraries can learn how to provide more services for ethnically and linguistically diverse students. Students have different levels of awareness of the resources available to them, as well as how to access them. Librarians can promote awareness and access to additional free resources that students may not be aware of. They can also dedicate time to teach students about library resources and how to use them properly through a mandatory orientation. For example, academic libraries can work with the university to set up a mandatory one unit course to teach students how to access the resources and services available in their library. Collaborating with educators, librarians can assist with curriculum development focused on academic research skills for students. Libraries can also provide resources in different languages and hire bilingual staff who can assist with the diverse range of student inquiries. Additionally, librarians with the assistance of bilingual staff can create videos teaching information literacy skills in a variety of languages. These videos can be provided within the library as well as posted on the library website for 24/7 accessibility. Signage in the library and on the library website should also be multilingual.
Pieterse, E., Greenburg, R., & Santo, Z. (2018). A multicultural approach to digital information literacy skills evaluation in an Israeli college. Communications in Information Literacy, 12(2), 107–127. doi: https://doi.org/10.15760/comminfolit.2018.12.2.4