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Teaching Information Literacy Skills to Undergraduate Nursing Students: A Collaborative Approach
Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International 42nd Biennial Convention (2013)
  • Suzanne E Zentz, Valparaiso University
  • Kimberly J Whalen, Valparaiso University


An expectation of baccalaureate nursing education is to prepare nurses to implement evidenced-based practice (EBP). This expectation extends far beyond a basic understanding of the research process. BSN prepared nurses must be able to effectively and efficiently identify, analyze, and synthesize evidence (AACN, 2008). The acquisition of information literacy skills is foundational to the development of EBP.


The study took place at a College of Nursing within a mid-sized, faith-based university located in the Midwest. Historically, students enrolled in their senior level undergraduate nursing research/EBP course underwent one library instruction session with the nursing librarian to reinforce search strategies for accessing single studies and higher levels of evidence. As part of the course, students conducted EBP group projects which required searching for the best evidence to address a clinical problem. Evaluation of EBP projects revealed that students were not effectively performing systematic searches. This deficit was interpreted as critical since the EBP process is built upon accessing the best evidence. To facilitate development of these skills, a collaboration between the College of Nursing and Library Services emerged. Literature regarding teaching nursing research/EBP and information literacy was reviewed. Specific EBP skills and methods to effectively teach those skills were explored. A collaborative approach to teaching was instituted by embedding a librarian in the nursing research course and integrating information literacy content throughout the semester. Research logs and evidence summary grids for 39 student groups, as well as, individual student final exam and course scores across four semesters were evaluated.


Collaborative teaching/learning activities significantly improved students’ abilities to perform systematic searches and identify, analyze and synthesize evidence as measured by research log and evidence summary scores. Although course scores for those exposed to collaborative teaching/learning activities were not significantly improved, comprehensive final exam scores, a focused measure of students’ EBP knowledge, were significantly improved.


Collaboration between nursing faculty and librarians is recommended to promote development of students’ information literacy skills. Information literacy is foundational to the EBP process; time must be dedicated to establishing these skills. Information literacy skills should be introduced early in the nursing curriculum and reinforced in multiple courses.

  • Information literacy,
  • Evidence-based practice,
  • Nursing research
Publication Date
Fall 2013
Citation Information
Suzanne E. Zentz and Kimberly J. Whalen. "Teaching Information Literacy Skills to Undergraduate Nursing Students: A Collaborative Approach" Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International 42nd Biennial Convention. Indianapolis, Indiana. Nov. 2013. Available at: