Information Literacy in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics

Why have we embedded information literacy?  


Our new Religious Studies GCSE specification requires students to:

  • AO1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of religion and belief (including: influence on individuals, communities and societies)
  • AO2 Analyse and evaluate aspects of religion and belief (including their significance and influence)

It is often challenging for students to identify the different ways in which a belief can influence a person’s life; the resources available appear to be inaccessible and can be a barrier to learning.

Therefore, we decided to include and promote these skills at Key Stage Three. This prepares students for GCSE by enabling them to access schemes of work that explores the influence of religious belief by structuring and guiding students towards independent research; builds independent learning skills for the future.

As with all subjects, it is very apparent that students have differing levels of prior knowledge. In addition, our limited curriculum time means we are not able to cover as much of the content in lessons as is necessary.

Our Solution

As we are very fortunate to have a well-resourced library, the Philosophy, Religion and Ethics department wanted to find a way to incorporate this invaluable resource into our lessons as part of the solution to address the issue outlined above. In addition the Literacy Group had also been discussing the important of research skills and developing pupils’ information literacy and this seemed to be an appropriate opportunity to synthesise these 2 approaches.

The solution was to develop a lesson which used research and information literacy for students to investigate religious beliefs; this also “flipped learning” and gave the students the responsibility to lead on their learning. Their research would provide the foundation knowledge needed to access subsequent lesson.

In order to embed the Homework Research Rules and to encourage students to use non-internet based resources we developed a textbook based research lesson.

  1. Students were divided into groups and allocated a different religion.
  2. Each group was given a book box compiled by the library on that religion. (It is important to liaise with the library in advance of such an activity.)
  3. The students then used these resources to create an information card which answered a series of pre-planned research questions.

The rules for the task were:

  1. Make a note of all sources used for your information card.
  2. Summarise learning from each using your own words.
  3. Write anything directly quoted from the research in a different colour.
  4. Present the information neatly and write accurately.

What was the impact?


The quality of the work produced, the level of understanding and the engagement of the students demonstrated that this was an effective use of our resources, time and skills.

Following this success, as a department, we extended this approach to GCSE. By conducting independent research and using information this approach to information literacy:

  • Broadened the students understanding about the topic (pilgrimage)
  • Encouraged students to use a variety of sources
  • Check validity of the information
  • Supported the students in their use of academic sources
  • Challenged the “copy and paste” approach to research
  • Enabled them to evaluate their research
  • Apply their research to answer a key question.

We would encourage other departments to embed information literacy where possible.

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