What do the conceptions of geo/spatial information tell us about information literacy?‎

What do the conceptions of geo/spatial information tell us about information literacy?
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Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to report findings from an investigation into the conceptions and characteristics of geo/spatial information (GI) to demonstrate how exploring academics and students' conceptions of GI facilitated illumination of information literacy (IL) in the Geographic Information Science/Systems (GIS) discipline.‎

Design/methodology/approach– Adopting an embedded exploratory case study, the data were gathered from semi‐structured interviews, an open‐ended questionnaire and students' reflection in an online distance learning (ODL) GIS programme.‎ The data were analysed in light of the Grounded Theory approach.‎ Drawing on the conceptions of GI which emerged from the study, this paper highlights several characteristics of GI and discusses their implications for IL.‎ In particular, it compares the emergent IL competencies in the GIS discipline with those in the SCONUL model.‎

Findings– GI was identified as geo/spatial, temporal, geo/spatially contextualised, and geo/spatially technology‐mediated.‎ According to these conceptions, GI is a constructive concept;‎ it has multiple components which need various operations and user inputs to become geo/spatially meaningful and usable.‎ These characteristics uncovered new aspects of IL in the GIS discipline which influence the depth and breadth of the SCONUL model.‎

Research limitations/implications– Unlike exploratory studies of IL which focus on the IL and IL competencies to explore this phenomenon, the methodological approach taken in this study provides IL researchers with a new approach whose primary focus is on the concept of information as a key contextual element of IL.‎ This helps one to gain a deeper insight into IL in disciplinary areas.‎

Practical implications– The emergent aspects to the SCONUL model can be taken into consideration when designing and delivering IL programmes in the GIS discipline.‎ Likewise, the emergent picture of IL in this study can be used by GIS educators to develop information‐literate GIS learners.‎

Originality/value– This study is original in terms of both its methodological approach and its outcomes.‎ These can be of value to IL researchers, educators and practitioners.‎


Nazari, Maryam, and Sheila Webber.‎ 2011.‎ What do the conceptions of geo/spatial information tell us about information literacy?‎ The Electronic Library ۶۷ (۲): ۳۳۴-۳۵۴.

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