Peeling Back the Layers: Deconstructing Information Literacy Discourse in Higher Education

  • Alison HicksEmail author
  • Annemaree Lloyd
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 12051)


The discourses of information literacy practice create epistemological assumptions about how the practice should happen, who should be responsible and under what conditions instruction should be given. Analysis of a wide range of documents and texts emerging from the Higher Education (HE) sector suggest that information literacy (IL) is shaped by two competing and incongruent narratives. The outward facing narrative of information literacy (located in information literacy standards and guidelines) positions information literacy as an empowering practice that arms students with the knowledge and skills to battle the complexity of the modern information world. In contrast, the inward facing narrative (located in information literacy texts) positions students as lacking appropriate knowledge, skills and agency. This deficit perception, which has the capacity to influence pedagogical practice, is at odds with constructivist and action-oriented views that are espoused within information literacy instructional pedagogy. This presentation represents the first paper in a research programme that interrogates the epistemological premises and discourses of information literacy within HE.


Information literacy Positioning theory Discourse analysis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University College, London (UCL)LondonUK

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