Document Type

Informed Improvement

Publication Date



It has been ten years since Christine Bruce's (1997) Seven Faces of Information Literacy was published, sharing the results of her phenomenographic research project revealing how librarians and other higher educators understood information literacy. Bruce's research impacted the way we think about information literacy by providing us with an expanded definition derived from people's experience. Applied to undergraduate students, phenomenography provides a powerful tool for understanding how students experience information literacy. The results of the presenter's two research projects verifies what some of us may have realized intuitively –that often there is a gap between the student approach to finding and evaluating information and their actual goals, e.g., making a convincing argument, learning more about the topic, etc. Knowing how students understand information literacy provides instructional librarians with important tools for designing pedagogy aimed at getting undergraduates to move beyond the gap by applying an integrated approach to using information. The presenter will provide a brief overview of phenomenographic research as applied to information literacy, describe phenomenographic methodology and discuss the results of the research projects conducted to examine the ways that undergraduate students understand information use. Attendees should expect to leave the session with a new understanding of:

  • phenomenographic methodology;
  • different ways that undergraduates experience information literacy; and
  • pedagogic strategies for getting undergraduates to use information more complexly.