Information Literacy Instruction in the Library ... - 6 -Information Literacy Instruction in the Library

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    Information Literacy Instruction

    in the Library

    Lesley Farmer

    “Information is Power.”

    This phrase has been

    bandied about for decades,

    but resonated loudly in the

    Information Age. Now in

    the Knowledge Age a more

    accurate truism would be

    “The use of information is

    power.” Young people,

    especially females, may feel powerless so meaningful skills in

    knowledgeable decision-making help them feel capable and in


    Information literacy is, paradoxically, a “hot” topic and a

    misunderstood one. Some people consider it to be a subset of the

    more glamorous technology literacy, but a simple example of

    gathering data by interviewing face-to-face refutes that claim. Still,

    technology has become a cornerstone in information literacy.

    As centers of information, librarians see information literacy as

    their core curriculum.



    Information Literacy InstructionInstruction

    Dr. Lesley Farmer California State University

    Long BeachLong Beach


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    How do students become literate? One of the goals of education

    is to help individuals become functionally literate, which involves

    a continuum of skills that enables students to be able to do

    something: procedural knowledge. Students need to access,

    comprehend, and respond to information. In the United States,

    reading and writing ability are core competencies in that process.

    However, other skills such as numeracy and visual acuity are also

    implicated because knowledge can be represented in so many

    forms. Increasingly, other countries combine information and

    communication literacies under the heading ICT (Information and

    Communication Technology).

    The American Associa-

    tion of School Librarians

    (AASL) lists the following

    indicators of information


    1.accessing information


    2.critically evaluating


    3.using information

      accurately and creatively

    4.seeking information for

      personal interest

    5.appreciating literature

      and other creative works

    6.aiming for excellence in

       information seeking and

      knowledge generation

    7.realizing that information is important for a democratic society

    Information LiteracyInformation Literacy StandardsStandards

    New Draft AASL LearningNew Draft AASL Learning StandardsStandards

    Identify and pursue interests and personal knowledge.Identify and pursue interests and personal knowledge. Use processes and tools that enable discovery and attainment of knowledge.g Transform knowledge into understanding and make informed decisions. Share knowledge/understandings with others.

    Each includes empowering skills, enabling attitudes, reflective strategies, social responsibility.g p y

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    8.dealing with information ethically

    9.collaborating in information-seeking and production.

    It should be noted that

    the standards for informa-

    tion literacy do not equate

    exactly with the research

    process itself. Several

    models posit a step-by-step

    cognitive approach, which

    is more aligned with male

    learning tendencies. McKen-

    zie suggests a research cycle model. Kuhlthau’s research model

    focuses on the affective domain of researching, which resonates

    with female information seekers. Pappas and Tepe, who are both

    women, developed a non-linear model, contending that students

    should have a repertoire of strategies as they engage in

    information seeking and use; this approach fits the need of

    random access thinkers. In addition, only their model deals with

    literature appreciation. In short, researching is just one aspect of

    information literacy; the AASL information literacy standards

    describe knowledge, skills and dispositions in situ. In that respect,

    using a problem-solving construct provides a grounded basis for

    using information:

    1.What is the problem?

    2.What are the underlying issues?

    3.What are the facts?

    4.What are the options?

    5.What re the consequences?

    6.What is the best outcome?

    7.How good was the decision?

    Research Models McKenzie: cycleMcKenzie: cycle Kuhlthau: emotions Pappas & Tepe: non-linear, includes lit t i tiliterature appreciation Farmer: elements of engagementFarmer: elements of engagement

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    In any case, information literacy transcends academic domains,

    aiming for students to successfully function autonomously in

    societal settings: as workers, as citizens, and as private individuals.

    Moreover, as the concept of a learning society takes hold in the

    21st century, the ability of students to learn independently and

    interdependently throughout their lives should constitute a core

    goal in K-16 education. In this scenario, libraries play a central

    role with their organized collection of resources and services, and

    with their blend of formal instruction and point-of-need guidance.

    Still, some students feel confused in the library, so extra effort is

    needed to address their fears even before tackling information

    literacy skills. Thus, to optimize this process, rather than limiting

    information literacy to teaching one research model to students,

    librarians should consider a more inclusive approach by describing

    elements of engagement with information, offering some effective

    strategies, and then allowing students to discover their own paths

    to knowledge. The next part of the presentation details these


    Task Definition

    “What am I supposed to

    do?” “What is the

    problem?” These may be

    the hardest questions to

    answer. Young people

    naturally have questions,

    but they do not always

    know what action to take,

    if any, to answer those

    questions. In school settings, most questions are imposed by an

    Task Definition What is the question? Whose question?What is the question? Whose question? -- show example, give context & goalp , g g

    What kind of information is needed? -- K/W/L

    What are the critical factors?What are the critical factors? -- analyze taskanalyze task

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    adult ― with the idea that answering the question will help the

    student learn the concept at hand. Unfortunately, students are less

    apt to value these questions ― and more likely to plagiarize ―

    unless the rationale for them is clearly articulated―and if students

    can participate in the questions’ formation. For these imposed

    questions, teachers need to have a clear idea what they want their

    students to accomplish, and they need to explain their expectations

    clearly. The easiest way to define the task or problem is to show

    an example of it or to concretize it contextually. While teachers

    sometimes object to the question “How long does it have to be?,”

    they should realize that students usually are trying to get a handle

    on the assignment, defining the parameters. Students should be

    encouraged to ask clarifying questions; females, in particular need

    to feel safe asking for amplification. Information tasks are also

    made more meaningful if students have experience similar

    activities before, so they should be encouraged to link the present

    project with past learning as a way to find defining connections.

    Once students understand the task and have a model or goal

    to work for, they can determine what kind of information they

    need to complete the task or solve the problem. A simple, yet

    often overlooked, preparatory task is to have students list: 1) what

    information they know already, and 2) what they do not know.

    Another approach is to have students create concept maps of their

    existing knowledge base.

    In addition, students need to select the critical factors in the

    ultimate product in order to guide their thinking about choosing

    information sources. As with prior knowledge about content,

    students may also differ in their information communication skills.

    A project may call for small groups to develop a skit about the

    immigration experience. Girls may have more experience working

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    in cooperative groups than boys, or they may have an easier time

    creating skits. In short, determine information requires that the

    teacher help students with those prerequisite skills of analyzing a

    task and linking likely sources of information to that task. Thus,

    teachers and students need to assess what preliminary content and

    information skills need to be taught before the lesson’s main ask

    can be accomplished and the problem can be solved.

    Search Strategies

    At this point students