Friday, July 12, 2013

Article Note: On Information Literacy, Campus, and QEPs

Citation for the article:

Harris, Benjamin R., "Subversive Infusions: Strategies for the Integration of Information Literacy Across the Curriculum." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 39.2 (March 2013): 175-180. 

To be honest, the title of this article seemed promising. However, this is basically just a short summary of ways in which some academic libraries have managed to get information literacy integrated into their campuses' QEP's (Quality Enhancement Plan). To be precise, it is a study of a set of QEP plans looking for where information literacy is integrated into the plans and what terms are used in the plan related to information literacy. There is nothing subversive or major here. The QEP is part of the requirements for accreditation (or reaffirmation as they call it now) for SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools). When I was at my previous workplace, I had to do some SACS work. My current workplace is also accredited by SACS, so I was hoping I would find something useful or of interest here. I did not find much other than some basic things.

  • The author states that little has been written on the "impact of information literacy in plans that blend information literacy with other curricular goals..." (176). In other words, this article tries to look at QEPs that are not about information literacy but may integrate elements of information literacy as part of the larger QEP. 
  • The study presented looked at 127 QEP proposals. Out of those 127, the author selected 106 to continue. It then sorted these into three categories: IL-focused (the QEP is an IL QEP), IL-integrated (the QEP includes information literacy goals, outcomes, or elements, but it is not the primary element of the plan. Information literacy is there to help other goals of the university to meet its QEP), and IL-optional (information literacy is not listed within the QEP. In other words, if some information literacy gets in, that's nice). 
  • "Critical thinking" was found to be the topic most often related to information literacy in a QEP. In other words, if the campus wanted to enhance student learning, they identified working on critical thinking as their goal. In this process, then information literacy came in. As the author states, this should not be surprising given there are connections between information literacy and critical thinking. As far as I am concerned, they go hand in hand. 
  • "The ability to locate and navigate online interfaces and make selections regarding keywords and phrases, the ability to evaluate sources for authority, reliability, timeliness, accuracy, and relevance, and the ability to use sources in an effective and ethical manner are all signs of a critical thinker's behavior" (178). Those are things we teach our students when it comes to information literacy. 
  • Improving students' writing ability was another popular QEP topic, and naturally, good writing, especially good argumentative writing, does need and draw upon information literacy. They may not always call it information literacy. Harris states that terms such as "research skills," "research methods." or "inquiry" were more common (179). This illustrates that language can vary in terms of identifying and integrating information literacy into a QEP. 
  • A nice sentiment from the article: "Taking opportunities when available and creating them where none exist will continue to be necessary strategies for librarians as they integrate information literacy into their local curricula, culture, and institution" (180). Kind of a statement of the obvious for academic librarians who work in instruction and information literacy. This leads to the next obvious statement. 
  • "Looking forward, the vitality of information literacy instruction and programming will depend in large part on its adaptability" (180). In other words, we cannot afford to be complacent or just wait until the rest of the campus let's us in. We have to be the ones who build the trail for others to follow. We have to take leadership roles and teach others.

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