This year’s Harry Galloway Prize was awarded to Nicky Turner. Here we read about her dissertation and work on secondary school students’ information skills.
Nicky studied for an MSc in Information Management at UWE Bristol from 2015-16 as a full-time student. Previously, she had been an English teacher for twelve years and was looking for a change of career which still enabled her to use her existing skills. Nicky felt that the course offered a broad and varied introduction to the evolving world of information management and its relevant current digital landscape.
During her studies, Nicky worked as a school librarian which enabled her to closely observe, first hand, the information and digital literacy skills of sixth form students. This led her to research this more thoroughly for her dissertation where she focused specifically on students who were planning to make the transition to higher education, and the role of the school librarian in supporting the teaching and development of these skills.
From her previous teaching experience, Nicky could see that it was clear that secondary students’ information skills were frequently unsophisticated, despite their confidence in using digital technology. Studies conducted by university libraries indicated that undergraduates’ skills of searching, evaluating and referencing information were consistently weak, which was echoed by the findings of her own teacher and student surveys, and observations. Nicky taught a series of lessons to help students improve their competency in these areas and noticed that they found the tasks challenging due to their lack of practice. From here, she went on to consider the obstacles for schools in improving the IDL skills of students and found that resourcing, time pressures and political decisions affecting the curriculum were particular barriers. It was also evident that teachers’ own information skills were largely self-taught and they lacked confidence in teaching them. This led her to explore how the school librarian, in his/her capacity as an information expert, could help to overcome these challenges and play an important role from an early age in supporting curriculum development and the teaching of these skills.
On completion of the course, Nicky accepted a role in the Policy and Strategy Team at UCAS. This role has made use of many of the skills she learned on the course, and she is currently leading on the development of an information flow strategy for the team. She has also been able to take a continued interest in the transition skills of young people entering higher education, through internal presentations about her dissertation topic, and attending events about the value of the EPQ following the recent reforms which have seen the reintroduction of terminally-assessed A levels and GCSEs.
Nicky was delighted when she heard that she had won the Harry Galloway Prize – she had really enjoyed learning so many new skills and knowledge; her dissertation allowed her to really get her teeth into a topic that she cared about, so receiving this award has added an extra shine to her experience.