Embedding Digital (Information) Literacy in the First Year Curriculum: An Intervention

Main Article Content

Belinda Jane Cooke


This paper describes an intervention aimed at reducing the occurrence of common weaknesses in first level work and thereby improving student performance in assessments. The project involved developing a more systematic approach to embedding information literacy (IL) into the first year curriculum in the Carnegie Faculty at Leeds Beckett University by combining the expertise of subject librarians with that of first year tutors. It was part of a broader programme of institutional curricular change. This collaborative approach was informed by data from individual interviews with previous students and based on a dual rationale: firstly from Sadler’s (2002) call for more high impact, low stakes assessment in the first year and secondly a need to avoid creating a culture of ‘testing’ (Sambell, McDowell, & Montgomery, 2013) in which students position themselves as submitting to others’ judgments rather than developing rational autonomy (Baxter-Magolda, 2003). In other words, we needed to design an assessed activity which encouraged students to engage in learning but created a supportive and collaborative approach. The embedding process together with some of the resources and tools which we developed are described in this paper as well as the respective contributions of the various participants. We explore the impact of two years of implementation based on student interviews and tutor evaluations. Recommendations and examples are provided to demonstrate how a similar approach might work elsewhere either as a local, course-specific intervention or as part of an institution-wide approach to improving students’ digital literacy.

Article Details

Case Studies
Author Biography

Belinda Jane Cooke, Leeds Beckett University

Belinda Cooke is a Principal Lecturer for Teaching and Learning at Leeds Beckett University, UK and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She works with the University’s Centre for Learning and Teaching to support individuals and teams in enhancing academic practice and in seeking professional accreditation. Her current research interests are in teachers’ perceptions of high quality pedagogy and teaching excellence.


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