Jade Geary

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Hengtao Tang


The purpose of this action research was to examine information literacy skills in undergraduate students. In particular, this research investigated students’ knowledge and self-efficacy of information literacy skills. Furthermore, this study explored students’ application of information literacy and how students apply information literacy skills to their academic and social lives. By developing a greater understanding of students’ knowledge, self-efficacy and the use of information literacy skills, it allows librarians to tailor information literacy instruction to fit students’ needs. The three research questions that guided this study were (1) What are undergraduate students’ knowledge of information literacy at the University of South Carolina Columbia campus?; (2) What are undergraduate students’ self-efficacy beliefs about their information literacy?; (3) How do undergraduate students use information literacy skills in their academic and social lives?

The data for this study was collected via quantitative and qualitative measures. An electronic questionnaire was administered to undergraduate students at the University of South Carolina (n= 72) . The quantitative questionnaire focused on students’ knowledge and self-efficacy of information literacy skills. At the end of the questionnaire, students were able to select if they would like to participate in a focus group interview by providing their email. After the quantitative questionnaire closed, focus groups were created. There were two focus groups broken up by academic year (i.e., freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior). The focus groups were focused on all three research questions and thus investigating students’ knowledge, self-efficacy, motivation, and use of information literacy skills (n= 4).

The qualitative findings of this study found that how their information needs impact students’ search for information. Further, students' research methods vary depending on their academic and social lives. Additionally, students felt that being able to find and access information was a fundamental human right. Lastly, the qualitative findings highlight that students ‘ self-efficacy of their information literacy skills varied depending on the skill they were utilizing.