I mentioned in my most recent post that our VPAA (Vice President of Academic Affairs) recently gave me the green light to form an information literacy committee chaired by myself and made up of faculty representatives from each of the six academic Schools and a representative from Academic Computing. It took me a while to wrangle representatives from each of the academic schools, but we’re finally holding our first meeting next Monday. I’m extremely excited! I feel like we at the library have spent the past few years really laying the groundwork for developing a University-wide information literacy plan. We’ve built relationships with faculty, increased our instructional role in many Schools, and started doing more with outcomes-based assessment. We’re now at a good place to start working at at a more macro-level (rather than professor by professor) to really integrate information literacy instruction and assessment into the curriculum.
The first meeting is going to be focused on figuring out how we’re going to determine whether, how, and where information literacy is being taught and assessed in each major. This involves not only defining what we mean by “information literacy” (and remember that I’m the only librarian on this committee, so it’ll probably be based more on how our General Education Goal 1 defines information literacy than the ACRL definition) but also figuring out how to look at each class being taught in a major to determine whether information literacy is being taught and assessed. It’s easy for me to get with my library colleagues and determine which classes we are teaching, what we’re covering and whether or not we do an assessment in the class, but much more difficult to determine when the faculty are doing the information literacy instruction. And I know in some areas, a lot of information literacy instruction is happening outside of the library while in other areas, pretty much nothing at all is happening.
What I’m looking for are some suggestions for how we could go about doing this inventory of information literacy instruction and assessment in each major. Have you done something like this at your institution? How did you determine whether information literacy was being taught or assessed in a class? If you haven’t done anything like this, do you have any ideas for how it might be done? I really want to make sure we do this inventory in a systematic way so that we get good data that will inform the creation of an information literacy plan. I’m just not yet sure what the best way is to go about it.
Your feedback would be greatly appreciated, whether it’s based on experience or just a wild idea that popped out of your head while reading this post. Thanks!!!
Hi Meredith –
We are in a similar place (though not quite as far along as you)! However, our university is currently doing assessment on the departmental level, and it seems to have done a fair amount of good in terms of departments synthesizing assessment from all of their classes.
Anyway, one thing that struck me as particularly useful was hearing from those professors that mentored senior-level students as they completed a major research task (honors paper, capstone, independent research, and the like) – they seem to be the ones who can most accurately speak to the level of information literacy fluency gained by these students that move through their program.
Once they have acknowledged gaps (they’re still citing web sources as seniors?!), then I think it’s easier to talk about how best to address these gaps.
So, I’d start by seeing if your representatives can start talking to other people in their schools to identify gaps. Then the problem is less about who’s teaching what, but more about what the final outcome is after a student has taken these classes.
I hope that makes sense. 🙂 Best of luck! It sounds like a super exciting endeavor.
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Meredith, one approach can be to look at the required classes in each major, and figure out if any of them are an obvious fit for info lit concepts (on my campus, typically each major has a required research methods class). You could then gather syllabi for those classes, and see if there’s any indication of library research, research skills, etc. (Project Info Lit recently evaluated assignments and might have some relevant methods on their website.)
Another approach would be to bring faculty from various into the library (say, for lunch, since food can be very compelling) to talk about student research–the problems they are seeing, and, more importantly, where they think students should be learning these skills.
Then, with either method, focus on integrating info lit into those specific courses–which is one thing when it’s always taught by one prof who is into the library, but another thing when it rotates each semester or is taught my someone whose syllabus is done and set.
So the idea is to end up with info lit skills focused into one course in each major at the very least. That’s one way to start.
Thank you so much, Rachel! I really appreciate the suggestion. I think that we do not only need to figure out where info lit is already being taught, but where faculty perceive of gaps in current student knowledge. And the most valuable place to look for that info is from faculty who work with seniors.
Thanks Joan! We’ve already done this in most of the disciplines and are teaching at least one class (and often many more) in most majors. But, like you said, the problem is often that we’re at the mercy of changes in faculty teaching classes. This committee is more focused on the big picture of information literacy than on library instruction (if that makes sense — it probably doesn’t!). Syllabi can be helpful, but often faculty are teaching students how to use library databases, critically evaluate sources, etc. without it being explicitly stated in their syllabus. We want to be able to say “in History, students are taught information literacy skills in the following classes” and also to be able to say what specific skills are (and are not) being taught (i.e. “students are not being taught how to critically evaluate sources in Biology”). I know it will require a lot more from myself, the library liaisons and the faculty on the committee, but I can’t think of any way to map out how information literacy is taught and assessed in the disciplines without getting feedback from everyone who is teaching. And that’s where having faculty members on the committee is so valuable. 🙂
I always thought that Jordana Shane, the IL coordinator at PhilaU (I hired Jordana when I was the director there), did a nice job documenting the process we went through (this is nearly 10 years ago I guess) to get our faculty on board with an across the curriculum IL plan. You should check out the grids found here http://www.philau.edu/infolit/project_assessment.htm
as well as other documentation. You will get some good ideas from it.
I can’t stress enough the importance of having the group focus on first setting IL learning outcomes for your students – before you go about figuring where’s it happening or where it should happen. That will get you off to a better start on assessment. As S. Covey says, “start with the end in mind”.
Steven, thanks for the links to the grids. Those are very inspiring!
Those informations are really nice..