Friday, June 08, 2007

Article Note: On using paraphrasing to teach information literacy

Citation for the article:

Bronshteyn, Karen and Rita Baladad. "Librarians as Writing Instructors: Using Paraphrasing Exercises to Teach Beginning Information Literacy Students." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 32.5 (September 2006): 533-536.

Read in print.

This short article describes how to integrate paraphrasing exercises into information literacy classes. The authors present an exercise that can be implemented in fifteen minutes; it is something to add to library instruction sessions. The idea is to allow students to learn and practice how to paraphrase, a skill that will serve them well when it comes to evaluating information as well as citing it.

Some notes to remember:

  • "A research project that does not contain any immediately recognizable elements of plagiarism is not necessarily an expression of the effective use of information nor is the correct answer on a multiple-choice quiz, since it does not prove that the student can replicate the technique" (534).
  • "However, when paraphrasing exercises are used as a vehicle for teaching information literacy, it is important that the learning objectives are broadened beyond just finding and citing resources. Understanding and mastering the basic concepts of paraphrasing is key to evaluating and effectively using resources, two key tenets of information literacy" (534).
Now, some librarians out there may be saying, "hey, I am not an English teacher." I know a couple of my colleagues might say that. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that my other graduate degree is in English, and that I had a previous life as a high school teacher teaching English. Having said that, the authors answer that objection.
  • First, they point out that the library literature contains many examples of librarians learning from and partnering with English instructors. Also, colleges now see information literacy as an objective for the whole campus. (535). In my case, getting to that point is still a dream, but I digress.
  • Librarians can be on a preemptive role instead of remedial. We already do quite a bit of intervention in terms of reference and computer technicalities. Also, librarians that are involved in programs like First-Year seminars have a further incentive to do this.
The rest of the article provides the outline of the exercise, followed by explanations on how to assess it. This is definitely something that I would love to try out in time.


Sheila Webber said...


Thanks for this, I linked to this post on my blog


Angel, librarian and educator said...

Thank you for the link and stopping by. Your blog happens to be one of the infolit blogs I follow regularly.

Best, and keep on blogging.