Kessinger - Integrated instruction framework for information literacy (accompanying document)


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Kessinger - Integrated instruction framework for information literacy (accompanying document)

  1. 1. Integrated Instruction Framework for Information LiteracyPamela Kessinger, Portland Community College.Email: pkessing@pcc.eduIntroductionThe Research Support Framework developed at Portland Community College, in Oregon, is anintegrated instructional framework which serves as a template for guiding students’progression through several cognitive domains of information literacy. It is applicable to in-class, outcomes-based assessment and programmatic evaluation. The Framework also buildssupport for a collaborative effort between library faculty (librarians) and content faculty(instructors) for students’ information literacy attainment.“Could you just show my students where the library databases are, and how to use them?” aninstructor might typically ask. That tools-based approach offers little conceptual developmentand only the most rudimentary transferrable skills. Instead, we offer this Framework, whichaligns with Barbara Fister’s suggestion that librarians teach the “rhetorical dimensions ofresearch,” and, that “searching, reading, and writing are nonconsecutive research activities. “Structure of the Research Support FrameworkThe six steps of the traditional “Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives” are listed acrossthe top of the Framework. An example is stated for each step from the taxonomy, such as“Identify what is being communicated” for the foundational step of “knowledge.”The six steps from the Taxonomy correlate roughly to the progression through threeinstructional categories: Perceptual shifts and basic skills Information mediation Higher level critical thinkingEach instructional category has two stages, aligned with the cognitive domains at the bottom ofthe framework. The resulting six instructional stages have examples from the students’ point ofview.Sample courses are placed on a linear scale to illustrate their approximate alignment with thedevelopmental level of information literacy attainment, and the six cognitive domains, shownat the bottom, from left to right:
  2. 2. 1. Connecting to college 2. Information seeking 3. Skills 4. Academic inquiry 5. Exploration 6. ScholarshipSince courses in different disciplines can have similar information literacy outcomes, the modelpresented here is iterative, allowing students to practice through various learning experiencesin different contexts.Information Literacy Instruction Dimension 1: Perceptual Shifts and Skills InstructionOne type of community college student is of course the post high school graduate, whorequires career guidance as they adjust to the college experience. But many others presentthose factors unique to adult returning students, such as contending with undiagnosed (orhidden) learning disabilities, aspects of post-traumatic stress disorders, economic hardship andemployment displacement. A new group of students are the dual-enrolled high school/collegestudent. Affective objectives are particularly important to this group: one instructor has notedthat a “friendly smile and open-ended support in helping students find what they are lookingfor [is key]. I think that the smile and support is more powerful and important than most staffknow for students” (Lekas, 2013). Cognitive domain: Connecting to CollegeThe library instruction activities for this beginning level cognitive domain within PerceptualShifts will include learning objectives similar to the course content, which at first glance mayseem unrelated to library research. But skills like note taking are foundational to academicsuccess. Acknowledging students’ accomplishments of sequenced tasks helps them buildincremental success. In addition, gaining a relationship with a librarian—a college staff memberbeyond their course instructor—provides an additional connection to the college, and supportsthe idea of the library as a place to belong.The information literacy outcomes and library instruction learning objectives for a course at thislevel would include verbs appropriate for the Knowledge stage of Bloom’s taxonomy, such as:label; name; select; define; locate; listen.When students physically experience the library as place and they orient to the services, theyaccomplish a necessary step for developing understanding and decoding skills, especially forthose who have never experienced a library before. When librarians direct students to robustcollections on topics like managing test anxiety or career assessment, with the challenge to useat least one item, they accomplish two goals. They initiate students into the frame of using
  3. 3. sources beyond what they are familiar with, or what they easily access within their personal“filter bubble” as Eli Pariser has illustrated. They also extend and solidify the idea of librariansas contacts for referral and support.At this first stage of the Research Support Framework, we keep the objectives of the learningexperiences simple and accomplishable in a short time-frame in order for the library visit to bea predictably positive experience. We also incorporate the social aspect of learning, usinggroup work and discussion, for active learning and frankly, fun.Cognitive domain: Information seekingThe principles introduced in the next level up of critical thinking, the cognitive domain ofinformation seeking are applied again later for discerning the many types of sources which canbe framed by a computer screen. We start with the obvious indicators, like author and title,and introduce the types of information “channels” from Katriina Bystrőm (pp.175-176).Rudimentary understanding of the typical publication cycle is introduced here, for students torecognize some of the indicators of reliability, and to stretch beyond sources which only amplifytheir initial opinions.Students at this level often prefer task-oriented assignments as opposed to extending theircritical thinking skills. Until they gain confidence, they can over-focus on the requirements ofan assignment and deliberately avoid imagination or creativity. Cox (2009) found that collegestudents assumed that knowledge was only what was graded in a course—not knowledge orlearning (p. 98). Some resistance to exercises in self-reflection or extending thought, then, is tobe somewhat expected.Community college students typically start writing projects with a personal interest but struggleto identify what it is “researchable” about it. Adult students often lack the backgroundknowledge needed for success in an academic setting, but they do possess backgroundknowledge, plus schema, from their life experience and personal interests. Richard Anderson(1984) provides this classic example of schema: “The big number 37 smashed the ball over thefence.” (p. 595). Like with an inside joke, a person without any knowledge what is beingreferred to would have extreme difficulty correctly interpreting that sentence. A more aptexample for Americans could be from the incomprehensible vocabulary of the sport of cricket.We might easily read each word, but not be able to apprehend the meaning.Ruth Schoenbach et al. (2012) makes a persuasive case for training students to identify—to bemetacognitive about—their schema. She says it is a “concept that students should understandand own. They can think of schema as a personal library of knowledge—based on a lifetime ofreading and experience—that they already have and can draw on, add to daily, and revise ifthey need to as they learn more” (p. 234).
  4. 4. Topic development at the level of information seeking begins with students identifying theirschema and background knowledge and activating their problem solving strategies, in order tomake a commitment to a single topic area. Then, to structure a search, they must work todefine a conflict or issue within it. What would make their interest area reportable, worthy ofnews, or worthy of study?Information Literacy Instruction Dimension 2: Information MediationThe second instructional dimension, information mediation, is for courses which haveprerequisites. We are now moving into the taxonomic stages of application and then, analysis.Notice that the librarians have placed courses upon the Framework based not just onsequenced course numbers, but by what is actually in the course outcomes. This placement isalso informed by the librarians’ experiences teaching students in library instruction sessions andin assisting students through reference services.Cognitive Domain: Information SkillsClearly differentiating fact from opinion is the emphasis for the cognitive domain of informationskills. Composition at this level is typically patterned in the form of extended definition (forexample, compare/contrast; cause/effect; process analysis). For initially simple topics to moveto a question to explore, students will need to follow models for argumentation.Students are expected to recognize the elements for citations and to incorporate sourcesproperly. Librarians should address the gaps in students’ experience and use examples ofbridging concepts for scaffolding as necessary. Because students at this level may still dependon simple matching of search terms, it may be necessary to guide them to go beyond thedecoding mode of reading, to a deciphering mode, to think of related concepts.Students are expected to give closer scrutiny to types of sources here, and to the differencebetween popular and scholarly sources. The concept of peer review is introduced in a basicway.Identifying perspective and point of view should be clarified. The first can encompass thesecond; that is, architects would research a topic like skateboarding in terms of building designand aesthetics. But within that professional perspective, they may completely disagree on theimportance of certain design elements, or, on which of the approaches are the most useful.Topic development for the instructional domain of skills takes into account that students willnow have some beginning discipline specific knowledge. Instructors have collaborated withlibrarians to identify discipline specific approaches to information, or what they loosely term“threshold concepts”. For Biology 112 for example, the IMRAD (Introduction, Methods, Resultsand Discussion) structure of scientific journal articles must be understood before students cangrasp how scholars are “conversing” with previous researchers. Placed in the middle of the
  5. 5. Framework, Biology 112 would have library instruction objectives with Application verbs likedifferentiate, interpret, and demonstrate.Cognitive Domain: Academic inquiryA more complex view of information generation is introduced at the academic inquiry cognitivedomain, tying more into discipline specific modes of writing and the differences in theinformation cycle, depending on the discipline. Instructors focus on discipline specific contexts,but are often directive about topic selection and search terms. Delving into why an informationsource was created and the possibility of misconstrued or deliberately misleading content isnow emphasized. The consequences of the 24-hour news cycle, crowd-sourced content andnewer forms of authority are key concepts to present.Librarians must take care, however, to attenuate students’ attempts at “early closure—settlingquickly on a thesis statement rather than dwelling with a problematic and significant thesisquestion” as Bean and Iyer note. A librarian’s teaching role would incorporate demonstratingdatabase searching. Yet, in this context, the emphasis is not on differences in interfaces orpresenting a flawless search, but on “modeling a trial and error research process, tryingdifferent combinations of keyword or subject searches” (Bean and Iyer 2009, p.33).Information Literacy Instruction Dimension 3: Critical Thinking SupportFew courses are placed into the third Instructional Dimension, of Critical Thinking Support.Those that are mention using “primary documents,” in their course outcomes, but little actualprimary research is required. More frequently the concept of entering into the scholarlyconversation is what students are to learn about; at this level they are to acquire and usediscipline specific knowledge and practices.Cognitive Domain: ExplorationStudents at the level of the Exploration cognitive domain use not only the traditional indicatorsof reliability, but also author affiliation, citation tracing, and discipline specific terminology. Afull understanding of the peer review process is expected here, not only as a qualifier forreliability, but also as a measure of relevance.Cognitive Domain: ScholarshipCourses with information literacy outcomes at the level of scholarship (within the context of thesecond year of community college) are typically for transfer students seeking particular majorslater in the baccalaureate, or, for one-year certificate or two-year Associate degrees inCareer/Technical programs. Complexity in both research and in analysis of sources iscontextual, tied to their chosen major or career path. There is a common denominator for bothacademic and career track students here, however: the need to select high quality sources andto identify specific reasons for their reliability and usefulness.
  6. 6. Professional competence for students in programs as varied as Veterinary Technology, orMicroelectronics, requires the ability to assess the validity as well as the usefulness ofinformation. Graduates in these programs are expected to continuously update theirawareness of new trends to embrace or avoid.Topic development for this final instructional dimension requires using discipline specific modesof argument. Students will need to recognize the publication cycle for their field, and apply thatto source selection. They will need to know what the various information outlets are, and theirrelative value in terms of usefulness as compared to authority or reliability.ConclusionThe Research Support Framework is not only about an upward progression for academicperformance. It is also a multi-dimensional view of information literacy outcomes across thecurriculum. To clarify the level of information literacy critical thinking that is appropriate for aparticular course, a Course Specific Research Support form is set up for those courses whichhave information literacy related outcomes. These forms include instructional objectives,bridging competencies and threshold concepts, and finally, recommended library tools andguides. Careful attention is given to vocabulary on the forms to replicate the focus andterminology particular to each discipline. Librarians adopt the terms that the instructors inthose disciplines typically use, not the other way around.We customize our library instruction learning outcomes and invite the instructors to participatewith us. We see our teaching and outreach as providing students with the parts of anachievable whole. Our major interest has been to take hold of existing ideas and tools and tocombine them into a useable and revelatory framework. This framework is set up as a guide toinstructors seeking not only to identify useful assignments, and sources, but also to raiseawareness of the iterative nature of information literacy outcomes.
  7. 7. ReferencesAnderson, R. C. 1984. “Role of the reader’s schema in comprehension, learning, andmemory.” In: Ruddell, R.B. and Norman, J. U. (eds.). Theoretical models and processes ofreading. 2004. 5th ed. Newark DE: International Reading Association. pp. 594-619.Bean, J.C. and Iyer, N. 2009. “’I couldn’t find an article that answered my question’: teachingthe construction of meaning in undergraduate literacy research.” In: Johnson, K.A. and Harris,S.R. (eds.) Teaching literary research: challenges in a changing environment. Chicago:Association of College and Research Libraries. pp. 22-40.Bystrőm, K. 2005. “Information activities in work tasks.” In: Fisher, K., Erdelez, S. andMcKechnie, L.E.F. (eds.). Theories of information behavior. Medford. NJ: Information Today,Inc. pp. 175-178.Cox, R.D. (2009). The College fear factor: how students and professors misunderstand oneanother. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Fister, B. 1993. “Teaching the rhetorical dimensions of research.” Research Strategies[Online] 31 (4). Available at: [Accessed: 5 March2013].Hinton, D. [2013?]. Measurable and observable verbs. University of Birmingham. [Online].Available at:[Accessed 5 March 2013].Lekas, J. 2013. High school students experience the library, e-mail to Kessinger, P.( 29 January 2013.Meyer, H.F. and Land, R. 2006. “Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: anintroduction.” In: Meyer, H.F. and Land, R. Overcoming barriers to student understanding:threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge. London: Routledge. pp.3-18.Pariser, E. 2011. The Filter bubble: what the Internet is hiding from you. New York: PenguinPress.Schoenbach, R., Greenleaf, C. and Lynn Murphy, L. 2012. Reading for understanding: howReading Apprenticeship improves disciplinary learning in secondary and college classrooms.Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.Upcraft, M.L., Gardner, J.N. and Barefoot, B.O. 2005. “Introduction: the first year of collegerevisited.” Challenging and supporting the first-year student: a handbook for improving the firstyear of college. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. pp. 1-14.
  8. 8. Research Support Framework
  9. 9. Course Specific Research Support formMicrobiologyUse this tool to see how librarians can help support information and research integration inyour class. This guide was prepared by the librarians for Microbiology (BI 234)Research support frameworkThe following shows where Microbiology fits into the Research SupportFramework [PDF] developed by the librarians.Information literacy developmental stage:Critical Thinking Support 1. I can explain and describe my position on this issue, and support it with primary sources 2. I can accurately summarize the scholarly conversationCognitive domains and information literacy outcomes:Scholarship Complexity in research and analysis Participant in scholarly conversationLibrary support of CCOGsThese are the course outcomes and other indicators which require library support.CCOG for BI 234Intended course outcomes related to information literacy: B. Use an understanding of the impact of microbes on human cultures around the world both historically and in the present day to evaluate current social health issues. D. Use an understanding of research and laboratory experiences to organize, evaluate, and present data and information to illustrate and articulate basic microbiology concepts.Outcome assessment strategies relating to information literacy: Research paper(s) on microbial topics, library skills and presentations
  10. 10. Course content relating to information literacy: Library research skills Writing scientific research paperCourse integrated research supportThese are the ways that the librarians can support information literacy achievement for thestudents in this course.Corresponding information literacy outcomes: 1. Identify and select a research question related to microbiology and human culture 2. Locate and use sources from primary scientific literature to support thesis 3. Identify reliable quantitative data sources for current social health issuesInformation literacy instructional objectives: 1. Identify and select a research question related to microbiology and human culture 2. Locate and use sources from primary scientific literature to support thesis 3. Identify reliable quantitative data sources for current social health issuesBridging competencies: Understand utility of books for historical topics, using their indexes and table of contents to read selectively Navigate to library databases, to select those that are appropriate for selected topic(s) Identify "authority" of authors, recognizing significance of author affiliation statements or organizations Differentiate between magazine and journal articlesRecommended tools and guides: Tutorials and Handouts for Research Tools Biology Research GuideLibrary Assignment Ideas: Using Google Scholar, search for a journal article about a Microbiology topic, then link out to the "Cited By" authors