Information literacy in adult returners to Higher Education: student experiences in a university pre-entry course in a UK university


  • Tony Anderson University of Strathclyde
  • Bill Johnston
  • Alexandra McDonald



access, information literacy, epistemology


This paper reports a qualitative investigation of the experiences of 18 students taking a year long, part-time pre-entry course designed to help participants choose a course of study and develop confidence in their ability to study at first year university standard. The particular focus for the research was information literacy, and the study sought to illuminate students’ reasoning underlying their information use. It was found that interviewees expressed greater confidence in the veracity of textbooks than websites, but that this contrast appeared to be based on a relatively unsophisticated epistemology. The interviews also suggested that students’ metacognitive awareness and control, particularly over the critical thinking processes by which candidate information is selected or rejected for study, were somewhat weak. The core characteristics of information literacy for this group are discussed and suggestions for follow-up studies and interventions to assist in improving matters are provided.

Author Biography

Tony Anderson, University of Strathclyde

Senior Lecturer in Psychology, School of Psychological Sciences and Health