Fischler College of Education: Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Fall 12-31-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Kathleen Sullivan

Committee Member

Andrew Buckner


Distance learners are expected to conduct research in fulfilling their coursework. However, they possess varying skill levels and many lack the information literacy skills necessary to access, locate, evaluate and use the information effectively. Numerous academic libraries are increasingly using nontraditional methods such as computer-assisted instruction (CAI) designed to provide instruction. This dissertation aims to address the following research questions: How successful are CAI methods in equipping distance learners with the skills necessary to become information? What are the attitudes of distance learners regarding information literacy? To what extent are they able to locate resources relevant to a research topic? To what extent are distance learners able to identify and cite sources correctly?

The study included a sample size of 114 distance learners drawn from writing, communications, psychology, sociology, and business courses. Each of the courses selected had multiple sections which were randomly assigned to the two groups. Participants in the treatment group received computer-assisted instruction, while similar classes from each discipline served as the control group with no change in their instruction. Four instruments were selected to address the research questions. A questionnaire was utilized to gather data on the learners’ attitudes and perceptions regarding information literacy and their own skills. Each participant completed a bibliography which was examined to determine the extent to which students are able to locate, identify, and cite sources correctly. A test was administered to measure the baseline levels of information literacy of distance learners and the extent to which their information literacy knowledge improved upon completion of the Web-based tutorial. The data were analyzed using a number of statistical procedures. SPSS and Excel software were used to obtain descriptive statistics and t tests of independent means. In addition, the one-parameter Rasch model of item response theory (IRT) was conducted to determine the average information literacy skill levels of participants.

The findings support the belief that computer-assisted instruction is effective in developing information literacy competencies of students. The results of the test indicated that there are diverse levels of information literacy knowledge and skills among distance learners at the college and that pedagogical intervention is necessary. The participants who took the online information literacy tutorial demonstrated substantial improvement in their information literacy skills, as reflected in the SAILS test and bibliography scores. The survey, when compared with the results of the Critical Thinking Rubric and the SAILS test, confirmed the hypothesis that students overestimate those skills. The findings indicate that the students’ perceptions of their information literacy competencies are not accurately aligned with their demonstrated competencies.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.