Gateway PhD Program a ‘Wonderful Exploration’ Says 14th Graduate


The 14th graduate of the Gateway PhD program is celebrating the success of her research by continuing to write from her dissertation, as well as work part time as a research assistant with the doctoral program.

Dr. Karen KaufmannDr. Karen Kaufmann credits her supervisors Dr. Lili Luo of San José State University, and Drs. Sylvia L. Edwards and Elham Sayyad Abdi of Queensland University of Technology for their “exceptional insights,” to delve into a difficult topic to scope: information literacy. Her thesis, “Sociocongnitive Relevance of Information Literacy: The Impact on Student Success,” is a survey of how the topic is relevant to student populations.

“It was a wonderful exploration and engagement with faculty, students, the institutional review board at my local institution and in the Gateway program. I was engaged with learners, teachers, researchers, and global perspectives at each of these levels since the program had supervisors that bring perspectives from a variety of geographies,” she explained.

Kaufmann’s investigation provides quantitative and qualitative data to explain student perceptions of the information literacy experience through their work. The factors that make information literacy relevant and how users perceive information literacy to be useful and meaningful are shared and the implications of these findings are presented.   

“The thesis is an investigation of the relevance of information literacy to student academic work. The study specifically looks at student perceptions of information literacy as sociocognitively relevant when used to complete an assignment,” she said.

The topic was inspired by her practitioner work as an academic faculty librarian at Seminole State College. Kaufmann teaches information literacy across multiple disciplines, and her research has informed pedagogy not only at the institution but at the state level in a revision of a college-level course on research strategies.

Kaufmann was the recipient of the 2017 Eugene Garfield Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship awarded by Beta Phi Mu, the international honor society for library and information science and information technology. She said her experience with the Gateway PhD program was incomparable.

“It allows PhD students to begin their work immediately on the research investigation that is driving their inspiration to do PhD work,” she said.

To learn more about the Gateway PhD program, please visit the web page.