When we problem-solve, it doesn’t necessarily require us to have information from a specified number of sources in specified formats. For example, going out and finding three books, five journal articles, and five web articles succeeds in giving students exposure to those types of sources and what’s available in them, but that exercise is applied in the wrong way – it doesn’t teach students to critically think through and choose the appropriate source for their need. We should give them that exercise so they see differences and can later identify each of those types of sources as a potential avenue to solve a problem. The other thing we have them do is spend all this time finding sources and then as an additional step, evaluate them, and often they find that everything they found isn’t appropriate. This isn’t an organic way to conduct research. And most importantly, what we don’t currently succeed at is having them make that final connection, that they’ve solved the information need at hand. We’ve put them through a series of hoops in the wrong sequence, giving them a predefined path which is not organic, and then we don’t ask them to see it through – they just have a list of sources at the end. So we skip the steps of “organizing” the information and “communicating” the information. We need to teach them about all of the tools so that when they have a need, they can reach into the toolbox and grab what they need.
Teach students not only about different types of sources and when to use them, but HOW to use them to solve problems. Anyone can do basic Internet searches, and search interfaces are becoming more intuitive everyday. It’s still important to teach them to dig deeper into the bucket of results, but more importantly, we need to teach them to use the information that they find. That requires a number of steps. Students need to be able to define the need for information, which requires them to dump pre-conceived notions and biases; explore information with others through conversation and in general exploring to get a working knowledge; finding credible sources; synthesizing it to make a recommendation or find a solution.
Per Dennis’s vision to make Information Literacy more real-world, we are removing the academic focus. We will still teach students about Harrison library resources, but in the real world, what will they have access to? We are focusing heavily on Web resources because realistically, that’s what students and professionals use the most, and because that’s where the most help is needed. We won’t neglect other types of sources though! We’ll teach about scholarly sources, and then tell students what they have access to as students (but not make the impression that the Harrison Library equals scholarly information).We’re folding in real-world application throughout the course with scenarios, practice activities, and a project that helps connect the concepts to real world applicability.
We can’t cover everything, and transparently, that’s been hard for me – there are so many things I want them to learn about in info lit. But it’s a 2-credit course, and ultimately, we have to let go of what doesn’t belong in the foundational info lit course and put it where it does belong. Teaching library resources belongs with the librarians. Teaching how to write academic papers, conduct academic research, and create a references page belongs in COM, maybe even in advanced COM, not beginning COM. Part of my responsibility is to generate a bigger plan for info lit across the curriculum, but for this course, we are teaching concepts rather than specific processes. Concepts like intellectual property and plagiarism and why that’s important; concepts like understanding what different source types are when when it’s appropriate to use which; understanding the concept of expertise and that it rests with a person who creates the source, not the source itself; and concepts like how to synthesize information to form your own judgment or recommendation. Students want to go out and find an answer in a source, it doesn’t matter what source or who wrote it or whether they fully understand it. That’s not acceptable and not going to carry them very far in the real world. You may feel that things are missing from the course that you think are important for students to understand, but please know that there is a greater plan to sprinkle info lit throughout the curriculum, and to create a more pointed strategy with librarian instruction, and also that you will have some flexibility to add things to the course that you think are important.
PROJECT INFORMATION LITERACY:
DAY AFTER GRADUATION STUDY (2012)
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH INFO LIT COURSES?
“It’s giving that student the impression that it’s all about the subject matter, when it’s
really about the finesse.
“It’s letting the student believe that this is an exercise in compiling information
(which is cheap, after all), when it’s really a means to solve problems and advance
our journey in this world.
“The true academic expertise is that of the disciplinarian, the person who knows
how to walk through the data until the answer emerges. We don’t assign
students research projects because we want them to reproduce what they could
have found in 30 seconds in one of the better Wikipedia articles. We do it because
we want them to learn how to walk confidently within the discipline, to problemsolve through the data with a disciplinarian’s eye” (Badke, 2010, p. 53).
OUR MISSION: PROBLEM SOLVING
WHAT’S CHANGING WITH CONTENT:
Project will focus on solving a low-stakes,
The medium versus the message.
Less focus on the Harrison Library.
Career focus peppered throughout.
WHAT’S NOT CHANGING:
The Research Process: Define the need,
find, evaluate, organize, communicate the
Learning about different source types –
including scholarly information.
Evaluation using CRAAP criteria.
Course will be finished by January 1
Jen and Billie will coordinate training during
Course will launch in Spring
Jen will begin working on an institutional plan
to integrate information literacy across the