University Staff Pick Up Teacher Training Award

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Two members of staff from the University of Worcester have been rewarded for their innovative research project into the importance of Information Literacy among Primary Education students.

Rachel Barrell, Course Leader for Primary Initial Teacher Education, and Sarah Oxford, Academic Liaison Librarian, have won the British Education Research Association (BERA) SAGE Practitioner Award for 2013.

They will be presented with their award – in recognition of their project ‘The Value of Collaboration; Raising Confidence and Skills in Information Literacy with First Year Initial Teacher Education Students – at BERA’s annual conference on September 3rd.

Rachel Barrell says: “We are both delighted to have won this prestigious research award. The focus for the project initially came from feedback from students and from recommendations from our external examiners, and the impact on student achievement has been impressive.

“It has been possible due to the hard work of all of the Primary ITE team and through the implementation of both the academic tutoring system here at Worcester and also the close collaborative work with Sarah Oxford.

“We now look forward to continuing to embed our work further with our students over the next academic year.”

The action research project was designed and submitted by Sarah Oxford as part of her work for the University’s PG Certificate Learning & Teaching in Higher Education in 2010/11.

It has continued to develop over the last three years, as Rachel and Sarah have worked closely together to act upon student and staff feedback, and further integrate information literacy-related teaching and support into the Primary Education curriculum.

The pair embarked on the project due to the increased backgrounds and diverse qualifications of undergraduate students, and prior evidence showing that there were gaps in students’ knowledge when it came to finding, using and referencing sources of information.

In the first year of the project, Sarah designed and delivered a short series of workshops to first-year students which focused on searching for, accessing and using information, including Harvard referencing.

Students and staff were surveyed before and after the teaching to evaluate the impact of the sessions on the students’ confidence in the development of their information literacy skills. Results from this initial research indicated that the teaching had a positive and desirable impact upon students’ confidence.

Since then, Rachel and Sarah have collaborated to develop the content of Sarah’s input, and also to address staff and student feedback around timing, gaps in the teaching, and the collaboration between staff and the librarian.

Over the coming academic year, the project will aim to address the issues around the consistency of support and the ‘add-on’ nature of the IL teaching which the research has already identified.

Students will have IL teaching further embedded within their Professional Studies programme, the librarian will be more involved in curriculum design and moderation, and the team will develop a Referencing Policy to support students and staff.

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