Tag Archives: RIOT

Discussion: A Major Professional Shift, or Comparing the Framework with the Standards

Cindy led our discussion of this week’s RIOT on the new ACRL Framework for Higher Education with a view to an in-depth discussion open to all Libraries staff coming up this January. Our conversation centered around a few themes:

1. What’s the difference between the new ACRL Information Literacy Framework for Higher Education (Framework) and the previous ACRL Information Literacy Standards for Higher Education (2000) (Standards)?

The first clue is in the titles. The Standards offered proscriptive standards for information literacy and specific learning outcomes connected to each standard. This model was similar to education standards models used in some social sciences and STEM disciplines for accreditation.

The new Framework offers instead a series of frames through which to see central concept in information literacy.

2. What do we think about the definition of Information Literacy?

Information literacy is a spectrum of abilities, practices, and habits of mind that extends and deepens learning through engagement with the information ecosystem. It includes:

  • understanding essential concepts about that ecosystem;
  • engaging in creative inquiry and critical reflection to develop questions and to find, evaluate, and manage information through an iterative process;
  • creating new knowledge through ethical participation in communities of learning, scholarship, and civic purpose; and
  • adopting a strategic view of the interests, biases, and assumptions present in the information ecosystem.

The Good:
It’s focusing on critical thinking!
This definition is how we think about information literacy
This seems like what students should be learning in college
This definition makes clear to faculty that we have an expertise: a broad understanding of the information landscape beyond a single specific field.

The Bad:
It could be hard to use this with faculty
The previous definition seemed more concrete: Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information” (Standards)
One criticism is that we’re trying to make students into “little librarians.”

The Questions:
If we were to take this to an administrator or professor, they would likely think this is what faculty are doing in their classes. How do we divide that labor? (We have specific outcomes akin to previous standards.)

3. Do the frames resonate with us?
The Framework is built around six frames, presented alphabetically:

  • Authority Is Constructed and Contextual
  • Information Creation as a Process
  • Information Has Value
  • Research as Inquiry
  • Scholarship Is a Conversation
  • Searching Is Strategic

Background: These six frames were initially called “threshold concepts” (Cindy referenced Meghan’s post about threshold concepts), and after pushback the Framework now identifies these as our six frames. In the description of each frame, the document describes the differences between how experts and novices understand the concepts of the frame. For example, for “Authority Is Constructed and Contextual,” the Framework describes: “Experts understand the need to determine the validity of the information created by different authorities and to acknowledge biases that privilege some sources of authority over others, especially in terms of others’ worldviews, gender, sexual orientation, and cultural orientations. An understanding of this concept enables novice learners to critically examine all evidence—be it a Wikipedia article or a peer-reviewed conference proceeding—and ask relevant questions about origins, context, and suitability for the current information need.” This seemed helpful to identify the novice and the expert as on the same journey.

Uses: The frames can help us reflect on how many of these pieces we are putting into one class session or whether we are working on a novice or expert level and whether that fits our student group.

Politics: In some fields, the first frame might seem political; in others, straightforward. Are we taking a risk here?

4. How can we apply these frames?

Background: The Framework includes for each frame a set of Knowledge Practices, or specific descriptions of what a learner in this frame can do, and a set of Dispositions, or how learners in this frame might feel motivated or where they might ask questions. We described the Knowledge Practices as the practical steps and the Dispositions as the affective influences.

Uses: The frames seem easier to scaffold across a departmental curriculum; while the Standards had their own learning outcomes and were more static.

The frames open up classrooms to critical thinking; while the Standards’ Learning Outcomes focused on tools, now we can teach critical thinking and learn tools along the way.

In the spring, look for a workshop from TLS on this professional shift – we are already doing this work, and now we get to see how deep it is and think in a different way about what we are doing.

RIOT: ACRL Information Literacy Framework for Higher Education

Since March 2013 a task force has been working to update the ACRL Information Literacy Standards for Higher Education which, at this point, have been around for almost 15 years. Needless to say, this has been no small task however,  after multiple revisions, calls for feedback, revisions, and criticism, the current and third draft is out and because this will likely be the last version before it is presented for final adoption, it’s a good time to begin a larger discussion of the framework.

Because we hope to have a longer and more inclusive discussion in January with anyone interested in the framework, this post will not will provide a brief overview of the frames, some helpful resources that discuss or describe the frames, and my personal reflection.

The full third draft of the frame work can be found at the ACRL Information Literacy Standards page here and more information about the Taskforce and previous drafts can be found here.  A robust FAQ on the standards can also be found here.

An Overview and What’s Different:
In the most recent third draft, the Taskforce has included a concise and revised definition of information literacy:

“Information literacy is a spectrum of abilities, practices, and habits of mind that extends and deepens learning through engagement with the information  ecosystem. It includes

  • understanding essential concepts about that ecosystem;
  • engaging in creative inquiry and critical reflection to develop questions and to find, evaluate, and manage information through an iterative process;
  • creating new knowledge through ethical participation in communities of learning, scholarship, and civic purpose; and
  • adopting a strategic view of the interests, biases, and assumptions present in the information ecosystem. “

The current framework uses Threshold Concepts (TC) as the main component and anchor. Meghan wrote a great RIOT post about TC and the Taskforce explains that they used threshold concepts as a way to “broaden our practice from focusing on skills and indicators to focusing on the development and exchange of knowledge within scholarship, professional discourse, and the larger society.” It’s been a point of contention, but that discussion can be saved for another day.  You’ll also note that instead of standards for information literacy, frames (or lenses) are presented.  These frames are more conceptual in nature, according to the Taskforce, were done intentially to reflect the current information landscape:

However, the rapidly changing higher education environment along with the dynamic and often uncertain information ecosystem in which all of us work and live require new attention be focused  on foundational ideas about that ecosystem. Students have a greater role and  responsibility in creating new knowledge, in understanding the contours and the changing dynamics of the world of information, and in using information, data, and scholarship ethically. Teaching faculty have a greater responsibility in designing curricula and  assignments that foster enhanced engagement with the core ideas about information and  scholarship within their disciplines. Librarians have a greater responsibility in identifying core ideas within their own knowledge domain that can extend learning for students, in creating a new cohesive curriculum for information literacy, and in collaborating more  extensively with faculty

This reflects the Taskforce’s  choice to deliver a framework that is not prescriptive but allows for open interpretation on what fits best for each institution. The librarians that first introduced TC in librarianship gave a recent presentation at the Reinventing Libraries conference and have shared what TC might look as different assignments, which may help to ground this theory into practice.

The Frames and What They Include
There are currently six frames:

  1. Authority Is Constructed and Contextual
  2. Information Creation as a Process
  3. Information Has Value
  4. Research as Inquiry
  5. Scholarship Is a Conversation
  6. Searching Is Strategic

Each frame is further broken down and explained by “knowledge practiceswhich are demonstrations of ways in which learners can increase their understanding of these information literacy concepts, and dispositions, which describe ways in which to address the affective, attitudinal, or valuing dimension of learning.” These knowledge practices and dispositions are again, not meant to be prescriptive skills that librarians should aim to use as learning outcomes, but instead as scenarios or concepts to be use for integrating into assignment design, instruction, or other areas. In addition, each frame’s definition is accompanied by expectations of how novices or experts would internalize and react to this frame.

After reading background, updated IL definition, frames along with their knowledge practices and dispositions, I was heartened. This process is messy, especially as the information landscape is constantly changing, where accreditation and assessment is directly affected by deeply embedded standards such as the IL standards. However, as I was reading some of the standards, I felt myself nodding at the definitions of novice and expert levels, while realizing that the language I was using to explain these concepts or frames could be simplified to both the students and the faculty member in a way that accounted for a more scaffolded approach to understanding this concept.

Some questions to consider for our discussion:

  • What was your initial reaction to the new Framework and has it changed?
  • Do you see opportunities for using the Framework in a different way?
  • Subject liaisons, have you heard your colleagues taking a specific approach?
  • What’s a good way for us here at the UT Libraries to begin to better understand the new Framework?