An expanded critical incident approach for exploring information use and learning


  • Hilary Hughes



critcal incidents, critical incident technique, informed learning, information literacy, international students, higher education


Critical incidents offer a focus for exploratory research about human experiences, including information use and information literacy learning. This paper describes how critical incidents underpinned research about international students’ use of online information resources at two Australian universities. It outlines the development and application of an expanded critical incident approach (ECIA), explaining how ECIA built upon critical incident technique (CIT) and incorporated information literacy theory. It discusses points of expansion (differences) between CIT and ECIA. While CIT initially proved useful in structuring the research, the pilot study revealed methodological limitations. ECIA allowed more nuanced data analysis and the integration of reflection. The study produced a multifaceted word picture of international students’ experience of using online information resources to learn, and a set of critical findings about their information literacy learning needs. ECIA offers a fresh approach for researching information use, information experience, evidence-based practice, information literacy and informed learning.

Author Biography

Hilary Hughes

Senior Lecturer / Coordinator of Master of Education (Teacher-Librarianship)