Extending Boundaries: Team Teaching to Embed Information Literacy in a University Module

Keywords: Information literacy; academic literacy; academic librarians; higher education; team-teaching; collaborative partnership


In today’s knowledge-based economy, the role of universities in preparing students to be information literate and independent thinkers and researchers is crucial. Information literacy (IL) skills enable students to become research-oriented, hold critical approaches to knowledge, be critical thinkers, consider things from different perspectives, develop their own ideas and defend and share these in an ethical manner. University students are often expected to access, process, evaluate and synthesise information from a number of sources in order to complete their assessment tasks. To do this efficiently, they need to possess good IL skills. This article postulates that students’ IL skills can be successfully fostered and enhanced if academics and academic librarians enter into a partnership to collaboratively develop students’ IL skills. The article discusses an intervention at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa that entailed embedding IL skills in an academic literacies (AL) course offered to first-year students in the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences. This intervention involved a partnership between academic librarians and an AL lecturer in adopting a team-teaching approach to collaboratively develop students’ IL skills. Overall, students showed great enthusiasm for the IL sessions, and their responses to the different tasks given to them were positive. The partnership between the team members was found to be successful. Although the researchers concluded that a collaborative partnership between academics and academic librarians was feasible and sustainable, they acknowledged that the available resources within an institution, for example, library computer laboratories, might well impact on the decision to pursue such an initiative.

Author Biographies

sharita bharuthram, University of the Western Cape

Sharita Bharuthram is an Associate Professor in the English for Educational Development (EED) programmes at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Professor Bharuthram co-ordinates and lectures an EED module that is offered to students from the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences. Her PhD on the reading development of students in higher education was obtained in 2007 through the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Since then her research focus has been in the area of academic development.  Professor Bharuthram has published in both national and international journals and has presented her work at national and international conferences. She also serves as a reviewer for international journals.

Shehaamah Mohamed, University of the Western Cape

Shehaamah Mohamed (BA, BBibl, LLB, LLM ) is a Senior Librarian: Learning and Teaching, at the University of the Western Cape library with a specialisation in teaching approaches and the integration of critical literacies in teaching and learning as well as the development of expert information literacy habits of mind in student learning. Her PhD research focuses on developing expert information practices in students and examines the mental operations or processes of expert practitioners in this regard.

Gerald Louw, University of the Western Cape

Gerald Louw (BA, PGDLIS, NDLIS) started to work at the University of the Western Cape in 2003 as a library assistant. He is currently the faculty librarian for Community and Health Sciences and is reading towards his master's in Library and Information Studies.