Gender and Information Literacy: Evaluation of Gender Differences in a Student Survey of Information Sources

Arthur Taylor, Heather A. Dalal

Abstract

Information literacy studies have shown that college students use a variety of information sources to perform research and commonly choose Internet sources over traditional library sources. Studies have also shown that students do not appear to understand the information quality issues concerning Internet information sources and may lack the information literacy skills to make good choices concerning the use of these sources. No studies currently provide clear guidance on how gender might influence the information literacy skills of students. Such guidance could help improve information literacy instruction.

This study used a survey of college-aged students to evaluate a subset of student information literacy skills in relation to Internet information sources. Analysis of the data collected provided strong indications of gender differences in information literacy skills. Female respondents appeared to be more discerning than males in evaluating Internet sources. Males appeared to be more confident in the credibility and accuracy of the results returned by search engines. Evaluation of other survey responses strengthened our finding of gender differentiation in information literacy skills.

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