Osborne, Antony (2011) The Value of Information Literacy: Conceptions of BSc Nursing Students at a UK University. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This study investigates the conceptions of information literacy held by student nurses on a BSc Nursing Studies course and asks whether the information skills sessions taught are successful from the students’ viewpoint. Additionally, it
compares attitudes to, and use of information literacy within the artificial environment of the university and the ‘real world’ of the nurse as perceived by participants on their clinical and community placements. The inquiry introduces the
concept of information literacy and charts its development before discussing it in relation to the changing context of nurse education and evidence-based practice.

The research adopts the interpretive paradigm with phenomenography as its methodology. It uses focus groups and twenty-one individual interviews to obtain rich data from a purposive sample of students across the three years of the course. Such data were analysed to produce categories of description representing the collective experience of information literacy across the sample.

The thesis questions whether learning to nurse effectively is best achieved through training along traditional lines, education, or a combination of both. For the latter it is imperative to find an appropriate balance between academic and clinical skills.

The findings reveal a tension between the academic and clinical aspects of learning to be a nurse which some students struggle to resolve. The study concludes that while information literacy is perceived as part of a nurse’s
professional role in supporting evidence-based practice, participant observations suggest that its use is context dependent and variable. The thesis recognizes that the adoption of evidence-based practice may depend on the presence or absence of particular personal and organisational barriers.

Suggestions for further research include the relationship between academic and clinical learning, the importance and influence of informal learning, and the nature of the transition from student nurse to autonomous practitioner.

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