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.
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.
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.”
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.