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Identifying and facilitating a community of practice in information literacy in higher education.

Dean, Clare Joanne


Clare Joanne Dean


Elizabeth Tait


This research project focuses upon the role of the academic librarian in higher education. It explores the concept of communities of practice in information literacy in that sector via a study of a specific university in the United Kingdom, with an academic librarian investigating their own role as a practitioner in this context. It is founded on the assertion that information literacy practice is already evident and occurring in learning and teaching practice, but that it is often found in a traditional, skills-based form, owing to an absence of staff development opportunities for those involved in curriculum design and teaching (i.e. academic and professional staff), and that this, in turn, is impacting upon the student experience. Through an exploration of the literature, the concept of information literacy is investigated, and it is shown that this has moved on from a traditional skills model to one which is rooted in social construction (Lloyd 2010), and influenced by societal and political structures (Elmborg 2012). This links to an exploration of social learning in education, especially the theory of communities of practice (Wenger 1998). It also reveals a literature gap of research covering staff development in information literacy in higher education via social learning. It is this gap that this research addresses. The research follows a pragmatic, action-research approach to allow for the investigation of a real-world issue and employs mixed methods to explore the local situation. The outcomes reveal that shared practice in information literacy is evident and that there is scope to move this from traditional forms to the emerging concepts in the curriculum. Additionally, the outcomes reveal that the community of practice model offers a chance for staff development, whereby librarians, academics and other professional staff can learn from each other in linking pedagogy and information literacy, impacting curriculum design and delivery.


DEAN, C.J. 2020. Identifying and facilitating a community of practice in information literacy in higher education. Robert Gordon University [online], DInfSci thesis. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 21, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jul 21, 2020
Keywords Information literacy; Higher education; Higher education institutions; Students in higer education; Academic libraries; Academic librarians; Curriculum design; Communities of practice; Social learning
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