Distance students and online research: Promoting information literacy through media literacy

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    Internet and Higher Education 13 (2010) 170175

    Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

    Internet and Higactivities for today's college students Jones, 2002.While in generations past, a class research assignment required a visit

    to the library, today's students can, anddo, conductmuchof the necessaryresearchonline, fromthe comfort of their ownhome in anenvironment inwhich they are at ease and familiar. Whether choosing to access theuniversity library's online database, or more likely, Googling key wordstoconduct anonline searchvia theWeb(Jones, Johnson-Yale,Millermaier,& Prez, 2008), research ndings support the suggestion that today'scollege students are increasingly dependent on theWeb for their research

    perception of credibility does not imply evaluation of actual credibility,but in fact the opposite, an acceptance of the information availablethrough the source as credible, therefore eliminating a perceived needto evaluate the information. The magnitude of information, in text,audio, images and graphics, available online, combined with a lack ofoversight and regulation, and these low information literacy skills,creates an environment that could be likened to shark infestedworldwidewaters for distance college students. Universities are obligedto prepare their students to navigate these waters successfully, toneeds (Helms-Park, Radia, & Stapleton, 2007; KWith 73% of college students indicating they u

    Tel.: +1 509 335 4027 (ofce); fax: +1 509 335 48E-mail address: bvandevord@wsu.edu.

    1096-7516/$ see front matter 2010 Elsevier Inc. Aldoi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2010.03.001ime. Social networking,, watching You Tube andhe more popular online

    literacy skills for distance students. Reliance on a particular source ofinformation predicts greater perceived credibility of the informationavailable through the source (Hong, 2006; Johnson & Kaye, 2000). Yetemailing, online shopping, listening to musicsurng or browsing, the net are some of t1. Introduction

    The Internet and Web 2.0 are chaeducation in the 21st century. Every dasit down at their computers, open thlog in and attend class. Whether eprograms, blended classes, or both omore students than ever are learning ian environment where today's studenchoosing to spend much of their the face of a universitysands of college studentsferred Internet browser,d in exclusively onlinend on-campus courses,line environment. This isto be comfortable, even

    the on-campus library (Jones, 2002), research nds this populationlacking the critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate the relevance,currency, reliability, completeness and accuracy of information accessed(Kimsey & Cameron, 2005; O'Hanlon, 2002; Neely, 2002;Wang & Artero,2005). In other words, today's students do not possess the informationliteracy skills necessary for success in the 21st century.

    For students attending the university virtually without access tothe physical library, the Internet becomes the primary researchinformation source, making more vital the possession of informationimsey & Cameron, 2005).se the Internet more than

    graduate individprepare them tothe future (ALA,

    The purposeincrease the likereliability, compwords, how capractice of inform

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    l rights reserved.Distance students and online research: Prmedia literacy

    Rebecca Van de Vord Washington State University, United States

    a b s t r a c ta r t i c l e i n f o

    Article history:Accepted 1 March 2010

    Keywords:Information literacyMedia literacyInformation seekingCollege studentsElearningDistance educationCritical thinking

    Today's college students, presearch needs. At the samactual credibility of onlineaccess the online library datheir research quests, makinonline survey designed to emeasure of information literelationship between theseinstructional designers migtoday's graduates to succesmoting information literacy through

    cularly distance students, are increasingly dependent on the Web for theire they lack the critical thinking skills required to successfully evaluate thermation, a critical aspect of information literacy. Furthermore, rather thanase, distance students are more likely to employ generic search engines inore critical the need for information literacy. The current study employed anore the relationships between critical evaluation of online information, as ay, and components of media literacy. Results suggest a signicant, positiveracies. These ndings suggest variety in the types of strategies instructors andmploy towards the development of information literacy skills required forly negotiate the 21st century information society.

    2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    her Educationuals who are information literate, in order to bestbe successful and productive employees and citizens in2000; Maughan, 2006).of the current study is to investigate factors thatlihood of students evaluating the relevance, currency,leteness and accuracy of online information. In othern educators best promote the development andation literacy for distance students?

  • 171R. Van de Vord / Internet and Higher Education 13 (2010) 1701751.1. Information literacy

    According to the American Library Association (ALA), To beinformation literate, a personmust be able to recognizewhen informationis needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively theneeded information (ALA, 1989). Information literacy is not a newconcept, related specically to online information. Rather it has deep rootsin library science (Rockman, 2004; Roth, 1999), where librarians havelong been concerned with teaching library instruction (Jacobson &Mark,2000; Wang & Artero, 2005). With these roots, information literacytraining programs traditionally focus on teaching the skills required toutilize library resources, (Kimsey & Cameron, 2005; Neely, 2002; Secker,Bden, &Price, 2007) andother scholarly databases, including those online.Skills encompassed in these training programs include; teaching studentsto use the online catalog and electronic databases, differentiating betweenlibrary databases, accessing the library system using a Telnet connection,interpreting bibliographic records and citations, and choosing anappropriate database for a topic (Jacobson & Mark, 2000). Scholarssuggest however, thatwith the explosion of information available and themagnitude of the issues, information literacy is no longer solely a libraryissue (Rockman, 2004; Roth, 1999). Further, information literacy shouldmore broadly encompass the ability to critically analyze and skepticallyreect on media text (Brown, 2006; Feuerstein, 1999; Hobbs & Frost,2003).

    In addition, research suggests that fully online students are lesslikely than campus students to use online library resources (Dempsey,Fisher, Wright & Anderton, 2008), suggesting greater dependence ongeneric search engines and the vast, uncontrolled Web, for comple-tion of research assignments. Therefore, understanding how to bestpromote information literacy requires an understanding of onlineinformation seeking in general.

    1.2. Information seeking

    Online information seekers indicate as their priority the ability toaccess information in the quickest, easiest, and most convenient way(Crespo, 2004; Napoli, 2001; Wathen & Burkell, 2002; Rice, 2001). Case(2002) suggests that individuals' rating of easy accessibility as moreimportant than quality of information can be explained by the Principleof Least Effort. According to Case, many people rely on informationresources, including mass media, rather than formal sources such as auniversity library, as a means of increasing the efciency of their efforts(greater quantity accessed more quickly). This is supported by researchndings showing that online information seekers often begin a searchwith a generic search engine such as Google or Yahoo and are likely toview only the links on the rst page or two of results (Jones et al., 2008;Rice, 2001). Rice, McCreadie, and Change (2001) suggest that, consistentwith satiscing theory, people lean toward a course of action that is goodenough, or satisfactory. In other words, the theory suggests thatindividuals are most likely to nd information from the easiest, mostconvenient source, compromising quality for efciency and it seems likelythat the quality of information accessed is largely determined by thequality of the information search.

    A university library database is preltered by expert librariansselecting valid and reliable sources of peer reviewed information.Online information has no lter beyond that which the informationseeker employs. Several characteristics of the Web, while promotingopen information exchange, also exacerbate concerns regarding thecredibility of information found online. These characteristics include;lack of peer review and regulation, low cost of publishing, anonymityof authorship, and the fast pace at which information is added andchanged (Cline & Haynes, 2001; Mittman & Cain, 2001). All of thesecontribute to substantial quantities of unreliable, biased, incomplete,misleading and inaccurate online information (Cline & Haynes, 2001;Gagliardi & Jadad, 2002; Rice, 2001; Mittman & Cain, 2001; Napoli,

    2001). Hence, the critical need for information literacy.1.3. Information credibility assessments

    Once information is located, individuals assess perceived credibility ofwhat they have found and do indicate they are reticent to use informationthey do not nd credible (Fogg, 2003; Tseng & Fogg, 1999). There is adifference, however, between perceived and actual credibility. Perceivedcredibility of information is a subjective concept based on an individual'sinterpretation of various source, media and information elements, anddiffers from the actual credibility of the information (Crespo, 2004; Fogg&Tseng, 1999; Warnick, 2004). Research conducted in experimentalsettings predicts that actual credibility perceptions are affected by sourceexpertise and knowledge of topic (Eastin, 2001; Hong, 2006). In the realworld, however, individuals are seeking informationwhen theyperceiveagapbetweenwhat theyknowandwhat theyneed toknow(Wilson, 1997,1999). The consequencebeing that verifying informationquality critically,in realworld settings, is likelyhinderedby lackof knowledge related to thespecic topic of the information search (Freeman&Spyridakis, 2003).Onewould expect this would be the case when students are researchinginformation for a course on a topic about which they are in the process oflearning and not already knowledgeable.

    Once on aWeb site, in place ofmore stringent evaluative criteria, usersare likely to employ heuristics, based largely onWeb design, to weed outthose sites they do not intend tomake further use of (Crespo, 2004; Fogg,2003; Huntington et al., 2004; Sillence, Briggs, Harris, & Fishwick, 2007;Wathen & Burkell, 2002;Warnick, 2004). Users indicate they often assessthe perceived credibility of information on a Web site based on surfacefactors,wholly unrelated to content, like organization of information, easeof navigation and professionalism of site design (Crespo, 2004; Fogg,2003; Freeman & Spyridakis, 2003). The ndings that respondentsgenerally report being satised with the information found online(Cline & Haynes, 2001) do not indicate actual credibility, but more likelyrelevance, usability and consistency with what the user already knows(Freeman & Spyridakis, 2003; Wathen & Burkell, 2002). Informationliteracy, however, requires the application of more stringent criticalthinking skills in evaluating the actual credibility of online information.

    1.4. Predictors of critical information evaluation

    As noted previously in this article, such critical evaluative criteria,in terms of information literacy, would include verication of therelevance, currency, reliability, completeness and accuracy of theinformation as well as identication of the author and author'scredentials (Kimsey & Cameron, 2005; Neely, 2002; Wang & Artero,2005) consistent with the denition of information literacy. Under-standing information seekers who employ such criteria can help toilluminate the factors most likely to predict and promote informationliteracy.

    In studies related to online information seeking, Crespo (2004)found that 37% of his subjects rejected information due to lack of anidentiable source and 47% because theWeb site was too commercial.This is consistent with a Flanagin and Metzger (2007) nding that, inan online context, credibility assessments are lower when explicitpersuasive intent is evident. Research ndings suggest that verica-tion of information, such as that noted in these studies, is positivelyassociated with skepticism in that skeptical users are more likely toverify online information (Flanagin & Metzger, 2007). Huntingtonet al. (2004) found that individuals indicating less believability ofonline health information visit more sites during an informationsearch, comparing information found between the sites visited, thando those indicating greater trust in online health information. Further,ndings of contradictions between sources increased skepticismtoward the information among study subjects. It would seem then,that teaching one to be skeptical of information sources mightincrease information literacy. Cultivating skepticism toward mediamessages, including online information, is at the heart of many media

    literacy programs.

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    172 R. Van de Vord / Internet and Higher Education 13 (2010) 1701751.5. Media literacy

    Media literacy, designed to teach andmotivate individuals to criticallyanalyze media messages, decrease perceptions of realism and increasemedia skepticism (Austin & Johnson, 1997; Austin, Chen, Pinkleton, &Quintero Johnson, 2006; Brown, 2006; Irving & Berel, 2001; Posavac,Posavac, &Wiegel, 2001) might, therefore, positively impact informationliteracy. According to Hobbs and Frost (2003), media literacy educationgenerally involves student's analysis of their ownmediause, identicationof the author's purpose and point of view, knowledge of productiontechniques, evaluation of media representation of the world, andunderstanding of the economic structure of the media industry.

    Hobbs and Frost (2003) conducted a study embedding criticalmedia literacy instruction into a yearlong high school English course.The students who received the instruction were better able, than thecontrol group, to identify the purpose, target audience, point of view,and construction techniques used in media messages. The students inthe media literacy program displayed better critical thinking skills intheir ability to identify omitted information and were more likely tobe aware of the blurring of information, entertainment, andeconomics present in nonction media messages, thus suggestingthat media literacy can be an effective tool in enhancing informationliteracy.

    Fostering information literacy by teaching individuals to thinkcritically about the information source, often media, is an ideaconsistent with the critical thinking literature suggesting that onedoes not develop critical thinking skills in general but specicallyabout something based on an understanding of that something(McPeck, 1981, 1990). According to McPeck, critical thinking skills aredeveloped as one gains knowledge and skills related to a particularsubject area. He and others suggest that these critical thinking skillsare not highly transferable (Bok, 2006). There is, moreover, no reasonto believe that a personwho thinks critically in one areawill be able todo so in another (McPeck, 1981, p. 7). As critical thinking skills are aninherent aspect of information literacy, the current study proposesthat learning to think critically about media, including the WWW,might cultivate a more information literate approach to onlineinformation. Media literacy interventions can serve as drivereducation on the information superhighway (Frechette, 2006p. 101). The rst two hypotheses are informed by media literacycurricula and outcome goals.

    H1. Media skepticism will positively associate with informationliteracy.

    H2. Awareness of media effects will positively associate withinformation literacy.

    Further, critical to thedenitionofbothmedia literacyand informationliteracy is the ability to successfully access the information sought, whichdepends on both experience and expertise with the information source.Simple availability of online information does not ensure that individualswill be able to negotiate the vast quantities of information available(Hargittai, 2005, 2006, 2007). Research ndings suggest that individualswith more Internet experience are more likely to report that they verifythe actual credibility of information they nd online (Flanagin &Metzger,2000; Flanagin&Metzger, 2007) implying apositive relationshipbetweenonline experience, or access, and information literacy. Media literacyprograms promote access through the inclusion of activities that requirelocating, creating and deconstructing media messages.

    H3. Greater online access will positively associate with informationliteracy.

    Furthermore, Rains' (2008) ndings suggest that Internet self-efcacy mediates the relationship between access and credibility

    evaluations. He notes that study participants with greater online.54 and .58 which are considered low, but acceptable for exploratoryanalysis (Hair, Anderson, Tatham, & Black, 1998) (see Table 1).

    Understanding of persuasive intent was adapted from the nine-item skepticism toward advertising scale (Obermiller & Spangen-berg, 1998, 2000; Obermiller, Spangenberg, & MacLachlan, 2005). Thenine-item scale focuses on skepticism towards advertising based onthe denition of skepticism employed by the authors, the tendencytoward disbelief in advertising claims (1998, p. 170). The assumptionin using this scale for the current study was that if one is not skepticaltowards advertising one is not likely to be skeptical towards any typeof media message, since advertising is generally recognized as one ofthe most blatantly biased type of media message produced. Theoriginal nine-item scale is based on a ve-point response scaleranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) and includesexperience, in combination with greater condence in their informa-tion searching skills, held more positive attitudes regarding theirability to nd quality health information, than did those with equalexperience but less condence.

    H4. Greater access will positively associate with greater Internet self-efcacy.

    Ultimately, media literacy, through inuencing the expectationsone has of media, can empower individuals to gain control over mediainuence and direct it to their own goals (Brown, 2006; Potter, 2004).

    H5. Greater self-efcacy toward online information seeking willpositively associate with information literacy.

    2. Method

    The study employed an online survey with email invitations sentto 2281 distance degree students enrolled in a large, public universityin the northwest U.S. The survey was designed to elucidate distancestudents' online information seeking practices and perceived infor-mation credibility evaluations in relationship to both their informa-tion and media literacy. Of the email invites sent, 136 were returnedas non-deliverable and 363 students completed the survey, acompletion rate of 15%. As this is a degree completion program, thesample population were primarily upperclassmen (88.2%), Caucasian(84.3%) and primarily female (77.5%) with a mean age of 36. In termsof percentage of time online spent in some type of information search,responses ranged from 0 to 100% with a mean of 40.6%.

    2.1. Measures

    2.1.1. Independent variablesNo existing scales measuring media literacy, apart from pre-post

    media literacy interventions, were available in the literature,requiring the development of a new measure. Media literacy wasoperationalized as an awareness of media effects and perceptions ofrealism as well as an understanding of persuasive intent. Theawareness of media effects scale (a=.66) consisted of ve itemsmeasured on a seven-point Likert-type scale from strongly disagree ornot at all truthful (1) to strongly agree, or extremely truthful (7) andincluded items such as an individual's behavior can be inuenced bywhat is seen or heard in the media (truthful) and what we thinkabout the world often comes from media examples instead of real lifeexperiences (agree/disagree). This scale was tested using principalcomponent factor analysis with varimax rotation, which indicated asingle factor with an Eigen Value of 2.21. Two items (an individual'sbehavior can be inuenced bywhat is seen or heard in themedia [.80],and media depictions' inuence an individual's perception of realityitems such as the aim of advertising is to inform consumers about a

  • 173R. Van de Vord / Internet and Higher Education 13 (2010) 170175Table 1Indices and factor loadings.

    Construct a M sd N Eigen valueand factorloadings

    Independent variablesSelf-Efcacy for information seeking .91 3.67 I am certain I can nd information online that Itrust

    5.41 1.21 362 .85

    I am certain I can avoid online information thatis misleading

    4.87 1.51 363 .91

    I am certain I can nd information that isthorough

    5.37 1.26 362 .78

    I am certain I can avoid online information thatis out of date

    4.92 1.49 363 .85

    I am certain I can avoid online information 4.83 1.51 363 .90product and advertisements can be a reliable source of information.For the purpose of the current study the original 5-point scale wasexpanded to 7-points in order to maintain consistency with otherscales, and increase the measure of variance. Principal componentfactor analysis with varimax rotation tested the nal factor. Two itemsdid not exhibit strong enough loadings (b.40) (Hair et al., 1998) to beretained for this analysis, resulting in a seven item skepticism scale(a=.94) (see Table 1).

    Media literacy program goals seek to foster greater media accesswhich has been conceptualized as a measure of the ability to locate theinformation for which one is searching. Hargittai's (2005, 2006, 2007),digital literacy scale signicantly, positively correlates with actual,observed ability to search for online information, and provides a strongproxy measure of ability to access online information, according to herresearch. Tomeasure access, based onHargatii's scale, subjectswere given

    that is inaccurateSkepticism for Advertising (reverse coded) .94 Advertising information is generally truthful 2.6 1.22 361 We can depend on getting the truth in mostadvertising

    2.26 1.13 359

    Advertising is truth well told 2.03 1.12 362 In general advertising presents a true picture ofthe product being advertised

    2.38 1.11 362

    Most advertising provides consumers withessential information

    2.51 1.23 362

    I believe advertising is informative 2.84 1.33 359 I feel I've been accurately informed afterviewing most advertisements

    2.46 1.24 361

    Awareness of Media Effects .66 2.21 Advertisers provide the primary nancingfor all media productions

    5.21 1.41 360 .54

    Advertisers have substantial control overthe content of the media where their adsare placed

    4.52 1.53 360 .54

    An individual's behavior can be inuencedby what is seen or heard in the media

    5.81 1.21 362 .80

    Media depictions inuence an individual'sperception of reality

    5.68 1.29 361 .81

    Media trust What we think about theworld often comes from media examplesinstead of real life examples.

    5.20 1.31 362 .58

    Dependent variablesInformation Literacy .85 Whether the author of the information isidentiable.

    5.40 1.44 359

    Whether contact information for the authoris available

    4.69 1.65 359

    Whether the author's expertise is identiable. 5.57 1.32 359 The author's goals for posting the informationonline

    5.04 1.51 361

    How current the information was 5.96 1.06 361 Whether the information is veried by othersources

    5.81 1.23 361

    Whether the information represented isopinion or fact

    6.05 1.11 360a list of 24 computer related terms, such as mashup, malware andphishing, and askedwhether or not theywere familiar with the term, no/yes/not sure. Due to rapid changes in the technology eld, the terms usedfor the current studywere updated fromHargittai's original scalewith theassistance of three Systems Analysts.

    The overarching goal ofmostmedia literacy programs is to increase anindividual's self-efcacy with media, increasing their condence in theirability take to use media for their own gain rather than the other wayaround. Self- efcacy for online information seeking consisted of six items(a=.91), including I am certain that I can nd information online that isaccurate measured with a seven-point Likert-type scale with 1representing strongly disagree and 7 representing strongly agree. Thisscale was created for the current study and based in the self-efcacyliterature and tested with principal component analysis with varimaxrotation which suggested one strong factor with item loadings rangingfrom .78 to .91 (see Table 1).

    2.1.2. Dependent variablesConceptualization of information literacy is based on Neely's

    (2002) articulation of the process including evaluation of relevancy,currency, reliability, completeness and accuracy of information.Information literacy is therefore operationalized using an informationverication scale (Escoffery, Miner, Adame, Butler, McCormick, &Mendell, 2005) employing eight items (a=.85)measured on a seven-point Likert-type scale from not at all important (1) to extremelyimportant (7). Respondents were asked to please indicate the extentto which you actively considered the importance of each of thefollowing in evaluating the quality of information on a Web sitewhether the author of the information is identiable (see Table 1).

    3. Results

    All hypotheses were tested employing hierarchical linear regres-sion, with forced entry into each block. Demographic variables, ageand gender, were entered into the rst block, with the independentvariable(s) of interest entered into the second block. The rstregression tested hypotheses one through three, the relationshipbetween the three media literacy variables; awareness, skepticismand access with information literacy. The rst hypothesis regardingskepticism was not supported. Support was found for the secondhypothesis indicating a signicant positive association betweenmedia awareness with information literacy (=.25, t(356)=5.00,pb .001) as well as the third hypothesis indicating a signicantpositive association between access (=.12, t(356)=2.35, pb .05)and information literacy. Media awareness and access explained asignicant proportion of variance in information literacy scores,R2=.14, F(2, 351)=11.30, pb .001.

    The fourth hypothesis tested the relationship between access andself-efcacy. Positive support was found for the relationship betweenaccess (=.26, t(358)=4.93, pb .001) and Internet self-efcacyR2=.09, F(5, 353)=6.69, pb .001.

    The fth hypothesis predicted that greater self-efcacy towardonline information seeking would positively associate with informa-tion literacy. This hypothesis was supported (=.26, t(357)=5.24,pb .001) with self-efcacy explaining a signicant proportion ofvariance in information literacy, R2=.13, F(1, 354)=17.63, pb .001.

    4. Discussion

    Thepurposeof the current studywas to add to thebodyof informationliteracy research by identifying possible constructs, based on informationseekingpractices of online college students,which couldpositively impactinformation literacy behaviors. College students, particularly distancestudents, are dependent on the Web for research purposes. These samestudents, however, do not possess the evaluative skills to critically assess

    theactual credibility of the information they locate online.Membersof the

  • Further, the sample population was relatively homogenous in thatthey attended the same University and exhibited little racial diversity.

    174 R. Van de Vord / Internet and Higher Education 13 (2010) 170175university community committed to enhancing the information literacyskills of their student body can benet from exploration of the variety offactors and literacies that will best promote information literacy.

    Based on an online survey of 363 distance education students, thecurrent study investigated the relationship between aspects of medialiteracy including; Internet access, media skepticism and awareness,and self-efcacy, to the application of information literacy skills in theonline information evaluation process. Findings suggest that, overall,the components of media literacy educational programs positivelyimpact with information literacy.

    The rst three hypotheses tested the relationship of media literacyrelated variables; skepticism towards advertising, media awareness,and online access, with information literacy. Findings were signicantfor both awareness and access but not for skepticism. This particularmeasure of skepticism toward advertising may not produce enoughvariance to adequately test the relationship between media skepti-cism and information literacy. It was used on the premise that themajority of individuals would indicate some level of skepticismtoward advertising which the descriptive statistics support (m=5.55,sd=1.01). The data however, are negatively skewedwith less than 5%of responses falling below the median (3.5) suggesting a ceiling effectfor the variable. Further research should investigate a more nuancedmeasure of media skepticism as an outcome of media literacy and itsrelationship to information literacy.

    Media awareness, however, a measure of one's awareness ofmedia effects and perception of realism of media messages, didsignicantly and positively relate to information literacy. Althoughthis survey data cannot predict causality, these ndings suggest thatindividuals with an understanding that media depictions are notnecessarily realistic, and do inuence media viewers perceptions, aremore likely to think critically about the actual credibility of theinformation they nd online. Possibly this awareness raises the levelof skepticismwithwhich one approachesmediamessages, motivatingthe application of information literacy criteria in the evaluation ofonline information. This is consistent with the critical thinkingliterature suggesting someone must have knowledge and skillsrelated to something in order for them to think critically about thatsomething. In other words, knowing about the media may promoteinformation literacy in the form critical thinking about onlineinformation, as well as that from other media sources, according tothe ndings of the current study.

    Further, Internet access was also found to signicantly andpositively impact with information literacy, as well as internet self-efcacy. Access was conceptualized in this study, and elsewhere, asthe ability to locate the information for which one is searching andcould also be termed digital literacy. Access is considered integral tothe denitions of both media literacy and information literacy and is abuilding block of many media literacy programs. Although it cannotbe considered exclusively a media literacy variable, these ndingssuggest that any development of skills related to access, includingthose resulting frommedia literacy education, could positively impactboth information literacy and Internet self-efcacy.

    The fth and nal hypothesis tested the relationship between self-efcacy for information seeking and information literacy ndingpositive, signicant support for this relationship with self-efcacyaccounting for 26% of the variance in the information literacymeasure.

    Overall, the results of this study suggest a transliteracy (Mentis,2008) approach to the development of information literacy could bebenecial. Aspects of media literacy including access, or digitalliteracy, signicantly and positively explain variance in the informa-tion literacy measure. Media awareness had a direct relationship withinformation literacy and access associates both with informationliteracy directly and self-efcacy, which in turn positively associateswith information literacy. Whether teaching information literacy, per

    sue, or designing information literacy activities into an existingLastly, and possibly ofmost concern, themedia literacy research is young,and reliable and valid measures and models do not yet exist, creating achallenge for the researcher attempting tomeasure relationshipsbetweenmedia literacy and other constructs. Still, the survey completion rate andsample size were strong, as were the reported ndings. Thus, furtherresearch is warranted in both the development of amedia literacymodel,aswell as investigating the relationshipsbetween information literacyandother literacies thereby building a foundation to inform program designanddevelopmentwhileworking toward anultimate goal of cultivating aninformation literate citizenry. The more tools in the tool belt of thoseteaching and designing online courses, and the greater number ofdisciplines takingon the responsibility, thegreater the chancesof reachingthat goal in a timely manner.

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    Eastin, M. S. (2001). Credibility assessments of online health information: The effects ofsource expertise and knowledge of content. JCMC, 6 retrieved July 23, 2007, fromcourse, instructors, librarians, and instructional designers, can includeactivities that develop media literacy skills, which should thenenhance information literacy and Internet self-efcacy. This increasesthe opportunities and methods for incorporating and buildinginformation literacy skills of online students.

    Based on the ndings of this study, those courses which alreadyinclude media literacy type activities, requiring online students toevaluate, construct or deconstruct media messages, are likely to becontributing positively to the development of an information literatestudent body. The promotion of information literacy does not appear toneed to be limited to lessons related to the use of online library databasesbut can be positively impacted by a variety of other engaging lessons aswell, exploring the vast quantity of media messages in existence both offand online such as movies, advertisements, news articles, and YouTubevideos. Requiring students to understandwho produces themessage andwhy, as well as how the message was constructed, exploring potentialbias, asking how different individuals might understand the messagedifferently, while not traditional information literacy concepts, should,according to the ndings of this study, enhance information literacy.

    This study is limited in several ways. First, an online survey cannotpredict causality so it is not clear if information literate individualsmight be more media literate or vice versa. But knowing that the twoare positively associated suggests either could positively impact theother and both literacies are important for success in the 21st century.http://jcmc.indiana.edu/issues.html

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    Distance students and online research: Promoting information literacy through media literacyIntroductionInformation literacyInformation seekingInformation credibility assessmentsPredictors of critical information evaluationMedia literacy

    MethodMeasuresIndependent variablesDependent variables

    ResultsDiscussionReferences

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