Last week, I gave an online presentation about the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for the ACRL Student Learning & Information Literacy Committee. It was entitled Framework Freakout: How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Live with the Framework. Way more people attended than I’d expected (you know how webinars go) and it ended up being a lot of fun with a plethora of good questions. You can check out my slides or watch my archived talk embedded below.


I wasn’t able to get to all of the questions, so I thought I could answer some of them here (I believe this was Rhonda’s off-hand suggestion and a good one!). I want to preface this by saying that I am not “she who has all the answers.” I am not an expert. I am not the most knowledgeable about the Framework by a long-shot. I’m just a fellow-traveller on this journey to improve our teaching and student information literacy. I have engaged with the Framework some and have integrated it into my teaching where it makes sense. I would like to do more in the future, but, to me, the focus for all of us should be open-minded engagement with the Framework and incremental improvements to our teaching. Making people feel like their teaching is not Framework-y enough or that they need a philosophy degree to really do anything with the Framework is counterproductive. As Zoe Fisher says in her great post about critical information literacy (which I would argue has barriers similar to the Framework in terms of engagement and implementation), “Do Your Best and Fuck The Rest.”


Can you give the full citation for the Schroeder article?

There are actually two articles by Schroeder and Cahoy about affective components of information literacy:

Schroeder, Robert, and Ellysa Stern Cahoy. “Valuing information literacy: Affective learning and the ACRL standards.” portal: Libraries and the Academy 10.2 (2010): 127-146.

Cahoy, Ellysa Stern, and Robert Schroeder. “Embedding affective learning outcomes in library instruction.” Communications in Information Literacy (2012).


How does student self-reflection work when your contact with students is very limited?

I kind of answered this in the talk, but I think I can expand on it a little. Reflection doesn’t need to take much time and you can definitely incorporate it into a one-shot. You can have students share (anonymously) in the beginning what aspects of doing research they feel confident in and what areas they’d like to improve. You can ask them what they hope to learn from this session. You can use this as formative assessment data to tailor your session (that’s especially easy if you get the instructor to have students do this in advance. You can have them reflect in the middle of class on things that confused them, that they have questions about, or that they’d hoped you’d cover that you haven’t yet. This again is a reflection that you can act upon in the session. Finally, you can have them reflect at the end of class in the form of a minute paper or similar. I usually ask them about something useful they learned, something that they’re confused or have questions about, and how they feel now about their ability to complete their assignment. I probably wouldn’t kludge three reflections into a one-shot, but you could absolutely do one or even perhaps two of these in your teaching (I usually just have one).

You could also collaborate with the faculty member to have students reflect later on what they learned in your session that was useful in completing the assignment and how they’ve grown as a researcher over the course of the class. That could even be built into the assignment for students to do at the end, which will help to cement the lessons learned for students, and will help the librarian to see what value they provided and consider what they might want to do differently next time.


If a class is coming in for one single session, how do you prioritize content? The framework ideas are interesting and likely most beneficial long-term … but aren’t we doing them a disservice, by not focusing on task at hand i.e. how to find/evaluate/select sources needed for particular assignment?

There were a few questions around the question of teaching content vs. teaching the Framework. I don’t see these two things as distinct nor are they an either/or thing. When I am designing learning outcomes and experiences for a class, I first look at their assignment and see what they need to do. My feeling is that the content in the Framework IS what students need to learn to be successful at their assignments. I don’t think that teaching “information creation as a process” is not relevant to a class where students need to find and evaluate a variety of types of sources. How will students successfully evaluate sources if they don’t know what goes into their creation? How will students be able to use sources rhetorically if they haven’t considered that “authority is constructed and contextual?” Integrating aspects of the latter frame into a one-shot may be as simple as having students do a pair-share about how people become experts and then facilitating a discussion around different types of expertise and how different audiences might be swayed by different kinds of expertise. Integrating the former might be as simple as using process cards (which I discussed in the webinar) discussing what students discovered, and then showing them how to find those different types of sources. It doesn’t matter if students know how to use a library database if they haven’t learned how important language is to searching and how to brainstorm keywords and related terms. Depending on the assignment and learning outcomes, I might spend more or less time on mechanical skills. Embracing the Framework doesn’t require you to never again show a student how to use a database. It just might mean that instead of just showing them how to use it, you explain what it is, what goes into the creation of the different kinds of sources in it, or what to consider when determining which sources to select. I’ve never found it a big departure from how I taught before the Framework was adopted, though it is a big departure from how I taught when I was fresh out of library school (ugh).

Also, I cover mechanics less by having students view videos before class that cover the mechanics. Sometimes instructors show them in class, or sometimes students complete pre-assignments I design in Google Forms or Qualtrics where they watch videos and then do the things described in the videos (brainstorm keywords on their topic, search the database, etc.). The great thing about the pre-assignment, beyond freeing up my time to focus less on mechanics, is that I have all of this formative assessment data I can use to focus on where students are struggling. You can see some examples and specifics on my pre-assignments in my slides from a preconference workshop I gave last year: The Mindful Instruction Librarian and the One-Shot (see slides 16-27).


How can I find the page that holds PDX’s All Learning Objects?

Not sure here if you meant PCC’s instructional videos or if you meant the Information Literacy Toolkit. Our tutorials are all housed on our Handouts and Tutorials page, but the toolkit is still in development and won’t be released until shortly before Fall.


Has anyone implemented Poll Everywhere for student reflection/assessment in your sessions? Hoping to start doing that this semester!

I have not used Poll Everywhere, but I have used Padlet, which is somewhat similar in that all students can anonymously post content to a collaborative whiteboard. I’ve used it more for research question and keyword brainstorming than for reflection, but both certainly could be used for student reflection. I find it easy enough for students to post to a Google Form or a collaborative Google Doc, so that’s what I use.


What did you call the short sessions you did at Portland State in advance of the full one-shot session?

Warmth sessions, which are borrowed shamelessly from the work of Dale Vidmar (Southern Oregon University) and Constance Mellon.

Vidmar, Dale J. “Affective change: Integrating pre-sessions in the students’ classroom prior to library instruction.” Reference Services Review 26.3/4 (1998): 75-95.

Mellon, Constance A. “Library anxiety: A grounded theory and its development.” College & Research Libraries 47.2 (1986): 160-165.


Also, do you have suggestions about how to explain the Framework in easy-to-understand terms. I have faculty that tell me what can you do for my students and do not care about the lingo, such as “information literacy.” It’s what can you do for my students.

What about non-librarian faculty framework freakout? as in…just teach them how to use the databases…

As to the first question, I never use info lit jargon with faculty. As a liaison, I work with a diverse portfolio of departments, each of which requires different approaches to outreach. With our developmental education faculty, we have shown them aspects of the framework because they are a population that groks reading apprenticeship, metacognition, and the idea that helping students develop positive habits of mind is as important (if not more so) as mechanical skill development. In my more content-focused disciplines, a different approach is needed.

In this era of declining budgets and neoliberalism, colleges and universities are more focused than ever on ensuring that students are developing the skills employers are looking for. I think the Project Information Literacy research around how students navigate information in the workplace as well as additional research I’ve seen here and there about the information skills employers want can be very persuasive in framing information literacy as workplace readiness. But really, the key is to know your audience and what they’d find persuasive.

In terms of pushing back on faculty who want us to focus solely on “how to search databases,” this isn’t a tension I encounter much at PCC and maybe that’s the community college difference (I don’t know for sure). I think letting faculty know that learning how to use a library database does not mean that they will be able to brainstorm keywords from their topic that will help them find relevant sources or that they will be able to evaluate the sources they find to select ones that are both relevant and of sufficient quality for the task at hand. Databases aren’t magic. If we only focus on searching, students will not be able to do research effectively as there is so much more that goes into the process. Framing things in terms of workplace readiness may also be persuasive, but it really all depends on the instructor and what you think will persuade them. But, as I said, at PCC, our faculty for the most part respect our expertise in this area and trust us to make good decisions about what to teach.


We’re in the process of creating tutorials for faculty to embed into their online classes. I’m curious whether your have created assessments for your faculty to use with your tutorials.

Not assessments per se, but we are in the process of creating (and have already created a few) suggested activities that faculty can either have students do in class or have them do as homework around the learning outcome covered in the video. This will give the faculty member the opportunity to see how well students have internalized/mastered the lessons in the video so they’ll know whether further emphasis/teaching is required. They will live in the Information Literacy Toolkit.


Can Meredith comment on the applicability of the Framework in the community college context, versus the other contexts she also has work experience in? Does it apply “equally yet differently”?

It’s hard for me to know what is specific to my community college vs. what is specific to community colleges in general, because I’ve only worked at one. So your mileage may vary. I think having a lot of non-traditional students and being a conduit either to a trade or to a four-year institution helps faculty think differently about what we do here. I think the Framework and teaching in a Framework-y way is an easier sell at my community college. I’ve already talked about the developmental education faculty and how they are very much on the same page as the Framework, but faculty here in general do recognize that there are a lot of things that go into learning that go beyond content and mechanical skills. We see students who are being held back by their lack of self-efficacy, lack of good studentship skills/dispositions, etc. We know that building student self-efficacy and good studentship are as important (if not more) than the content we teach in a particular course. There is also a strong focus on making students employable, which encourages a focus on what students need beyond the content and after school is over. At PCC, one of our core outcomes is self-reflection so that metacognitive work is respected here at the College. I feel very lucky to work where I do.