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RIOT: Information Literacy, A Faculty View

RIOT: Information Literacy, A Faculty View

Saunders, L. (2012). Faculty Perspectives on Information Literacy as a Student Learning Outcome. Journal Of Academic Librarianship, 38(4), 226-236.

When interacting with students, library jargon is avoided in favor of natural language and a clear presentation of ideas, however, when we interact with faculty members, this rule sometimes falls by the wayside. We often think of faculty members “knowing better” and having a good idea of what information literacy is, how important it is, and who is responsible for it, when conversely, faculty members are often at a loss on these points. This can often lead to a lack of faculty buy-in when attempting to approach faculty members with collaborative IL instruction or course integration ideas.

In the article above, the authors conducted a qualitative and quantitative research study focusing on  asking discipline faculty how to define IL, how important they believe it is, and who the is the main person responsible for IL instruction, among other questions. When asked to define IL and explain how important faculty members believe it is, the faculty members overwhelmingly agreed that it was critical to students’ education however, a universal definition of IL could not be found. Additionally, several participants confused information literacy with technology or computer literacy while others were unfamiliar with the term but knew the concepts.

Furthermore, when pressed on when and by whom IL skills should be addressed participants again where unclear with a majority stating that IL skills should be learned in junior or senior high school and were unsure if it should be brought up in higher education or relegated to first year courses only. Most faculty members agreed that IL is a shared responsibility but were unsure of ways to incorporate it in their classes due to several factors like: Large class sizes, no research component for the course, pressure from department to focus on another skill (writing.) Moreover, while IL is seen as critical and librarians were viewed as experts on the subject, most participants viewed any librarian class time as an “add on” to use if there was any available class time they could give up or need covered. No faculty members mentioned or showed experience in working with librarians to design assignments, co-teach classes, or develop learning outcomes.

Based on this information, here are some questions for our discussion:

  • Are there any strategies we could incorporate to increase understanding of IL to discipline faculty?
  • Are we treating or should we be treating faculty members as collaborators/peers or users/patrons? Or both?
  • Are there other avenues of IL instruction discipline faculty could utilize other than traditional one-shot sessions?
  • How can we obtain faculty buy-in in regards to IL instruction when their course doesn’t have a research or writing component?