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"Grasping the Thistle-Understanding the Impact of the Scottish Information Literacy Curriculum on the Everyday Life Information Seeking Behaviour of Families Containing Children Aged 4-7 Years." L. D. Carter. I. Ruthven and F. Gibb. Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde. 2012. Download PDF (BibTeX) MSc Information and Library Studies

This project was necessary as little research had been undertaken into the everyday life information seeking (ELIS) of children aged 4-7yrs. It focuses on the family as the core microworld first experienced by children and discusses the impacts of the primary school mesoworld on the family microworld. Schools support children's information seeking behaviour (ISB) through an information literacy (IL) curriculum. This study adopted a model of IL based on the 'Family of 21st century survival literacies' (UNESCO, 2007, p.15), including digital, core, critical, media and cultural literacies. Children and parents were asked about their ELIS behaviour, available IL skills, and their knowledge of the IL content of the school curriculum. Questions about digital literacy (based on Thorvaldsen's key ICT tasks (Thorvaldsen, et al., 2011, p. 315) helped to confirm that self-protecting behaviours and social norms, indicative of a microworld, were present.

It was discovered that parents were a significant information source for young children, but that children's consultation with parents decreases as they get older. It is posited that this happens as children lose trust in their parents' ability to provide information relevant to their needs, due to cognitive dissonance created by differences between school and home. A model was created of children and parents' ELIS, showing the impact of toleration of delay and relevance on source choice and successful information need resolution.

The small number of interview participants (Nparents=9, Nchildren=12) meant that findings were quantified by a survey which focussed on information source use and IL skills of a larger group (Nsurvey=39). This confirmed that adults lacked cultural literacy skills. School based or home/distance learning resources were preferred by participants, with most being self-taught in digital and/or critical literacy. The convenience sampling produced an unintended predominance of bilingual families. Children's lack of core English literacy caused parents to assume gatekeeper/fixer roles (editing information for their children) but all families did this for the youngest children. Gaps existed between parents' knowledge/skills set; the experiential, holistic methods of ELIS for pleasure used in the home; and the purposeful information seeking of the school curriculum. Parents therefore require support from information professionals to ensure that they can reinforce the use of critical and cultural literacy skills outwith the school environment, and to enable children to resolve ELIS needs.