Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Article Note: On blending IL and English Composition

Citation for the article:

Sult, Leslie and Vicki Mills. "A Blended Method for Integrating Information Literacy Instruction into Composition Classes." Reference Services Review 34.3 (2006): 368-388.

Read via Emerald.

This article discusses how information literacy instruction was incorporated into composition classes at the University of Arizona. This is a large scale operation, and thus it is unlike the smaller settings I have experienced in my work; my library school's campus would probably be closer to Arizona. The need for this program arises mostly from the fact that librarians cannot do everything on their own, and that they are often overstretched and understaffed (sounds like the story of our lives). The basic idea is that the composition instructors do the primary information literacy instruction, with support and facilitation from the librarians. While some librarians may wonder if they are relinquishing too much in such a situation, the article does address the concern.

For me, this is another article that highlights the similarities between writing and research. To reinforce that point the authors compare the Council of Writing Program Administrators outcomes for first year writing with the ACRL standards for information literacy. In reading the table provided in the article, one can see the similarities. I think this can certainly be useful as a bargaining chip when instruction librarians go out to promote their programs in composition units.

The article then goes on to describe the program and how it was implemented. It includes a table with learning outcomes and who (librarian or teacher or both) is responsible for an outcome or another. The librarians also work on training the teachers, and they provide other forms of support such as online guides. I think all this works when you have a large scale program, but it does take the librarian away from direct student contact. Well, at least to the high level of student contact I have been used to, which I actually like. On a smaller scale, some of the ideas in the article can be applicable. I was thinking that, in my case, I could use some of the elements from the online guide list of topics provided as ideas for enhancements to our LibGuides or for some library blog posts along with our usual instruction. Food for thought.

In essence, this article is an example of a "how we did it" LIS article. Another article looking at some of the ideas discussed is Holliday and Fagerheim from 2007. See my note on that one here. I found the 2007 one more useful for me as an individual practitioner.

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