Information skills: bridging the gap
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This study involves a critical evaluation of the effectiveness of information skills training for final year dental undergraduate students at the School of Dentistry, Cardiff University. As a result of the introduction of a revised dental undergraduate curriculum in 2001 all students are now required to complete a dissertation as part of their Degree. Many of these students lack the necessary information skills to cope with the vast amount of information presented to them. The study follows an action research approach to critically review, reflect, evaluate and further develop the current provision of information skills training. The research indicates that, for information literacy to be effective, the training has to be subject specific, embedded and integrated into the curriculum and delivered at the time of need. It also requires collaboration between librarians, academic, IT support and administrative staff as well as students. The study reveals that the timing and pitch of the information skills training can never satisfy all students due to the diversity of the students and projects. Online learning was identified as one way of addressing this issue, and resulted in the development of the online Dental Information Skills Toolkit. The study indicates that the Toolkit should be integrated and introduced to the final year students right at the start of their projects and should complement, support and supplement the much needed face-to-face training sessions. The study confirms that the final year students are receiving the appropriate information skills training, although more should be done to make this training available to all students earlier on in their course.
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