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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A case study for teaching information literacy skills

Karla V Kingsley1 and Karl Kingsley2*

Author Affiliations

1 College of Education, Teacher Education Department, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA

2 Department of Biomedical Sciences, School of Dental Medicine, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV, USA

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BMC Medical Education 2009, 9:7  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-9-7

Published: 29 January 2009



The Internet has changed contemporary workplace skills, resulting in a need for proficiency with specific digital, online and web-based technologies within the fields of medicine, dentistry and public health. Although younger students, generally under 30 years of age, may appear inherently comfortable with the use of technology-intensive environments and digital or online search methods, competence in information literacy among these students may be lacking.


This project involved the design and assessment of a research-based assignment to help first-year, graduate-level health science students to develop and integrate information literacy skills with clinical relevance.


One cohort of dental students (n = 78) was evaluated for this project and the results demonstrate that although all students were able to provide the correct response from the content-specific, or technology-independent, portion of the assignment, more than half (54%) were unable to demonstrate competence with a web-based, technology-dependent section of this assignment. No correlation was found between any demographic variable measured (gender, age, or race).


More evidence is emerging that demonstrates the need for developing curricula that integrates new knowledge and current evidence-based practices and technologies, traditionally isolated from graduate and health-care curricula, that can enhance biomedical and clinical training for students. This study provides evidence, critical for the evaluation of new practices, which can promote and facilitate the integration of information literacy into the curriculum.