New Framework, New Directions: Teaching Information Literacy in a New Context

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    21-Feb-2017

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Ill be providing the perspective of a library that has not formally integrated the Framework into our instruction. We discussed the Framework and mapped our areas of instructional focus to the six frames, but have not really approached instruction differently because of it.1

Before explaining our approach, it may be helpful to know a bit about VCU and our instructionLarge research university with 32k FTE1/3 of our undergrads are 1st generation college students9 subject liaisonsAnother 5 librarians devoted primarily though not exclusively to VCUs first year experience program, which actually lasts 3 semesters here.UNIV 112 & UNIV 200 writing-focused; have goal of preparing students for writing in upper-level classes.Shared/spiral curriculum, so students across the dozens of sections are working on roughly the same assignments at roughly the same timeInstruction therefore has a certain amount of overlap.Almost all students take at least one semester of this FYE sequence, so there are between 135-190 sections total of these two courses each semester. Our department teaches the overwhelming majority of these sections: in 2015-2016, 273/328 83%2

We took a broad approach to raising awareness about the Framework. The librarys primary liaison to the FYE was our point person for all things Framework-relatedShe met with each public services departmentmost of which dont teach in the traditional sense of being in a classroomto make them aware of the Framework and to facilitate thinking through how the Framework could affect themEnjoyed learning about the work that T&L does and this new document through these discussionsGenesis of popular monthly salon in which someone from a different department around the library facilitates discussion on topics designed to edify and stimulate, such as media literacy and disability services provided by VCULAfter the Framework was finalized and filed, she led a discussion on the Framework at Library Faculty Senate meeting3

In order to see how much our instruction aligned with the Framework, the head of our department facilitated a discussion once the third and last draft of the Framework was posted, in which we enumerated and hashed out the areas our instruction tends to focus on in UNIV 112/200, these FYE coursesWe identified a number of skills and topics we commonly teach, such as source evaluation, and then used an informal quantitative scale (1 never teach 5 always teach) to determine where we as a group spent our time. We then averaged all of our individual scores, which are the numbers in the boxed squares here.We then mapped the Framework to our current areas of focus (note the circled numbers in each grid box), and had no problem doing so. This was affirming, indicating that pretty much everything weve been doing is already within the context of the new framework.4

We then took the inverse approach to this exercise by matching our focuses in UNIV 112 and UNIV 200 as we had taught them that fall to the new Framework, using the same quantitative scale used for our areas of focusThis enabled us to see where the department as a whole was spending most of its instructional time.As you can see here, our two heaviest hitting frames for UNIV 112 and 200 were Searching is Strategic and Research as Inquiry.Even without officially adopting Framework, we still teach heavily towards these 2 frames5

Takeaways: the focuses of 112 and 200 are very similar, and therefore, its difficult to understand sometimes whats really all that different about what we do for 112 and 200 students. Some of this is intentional, due to the spiral curriculum. We looked at clearer delineations in summer 2015.6

In order to further determine how much our instructional emphases mapped to the Framework, the two departments that have a core emphasis on teachingmy department, and the subject liaisonsgathered to map how much emphasis we placed on each of the frames in our own teachingWe discovered that each frame saw focused emphasis from either the FYE-teaching librarians or a subject liaisons7

So after all of this time spent mapping our instructional objectives to the Framework, why have we not done more?Department of Focused Inquiry:Information fluency already one of six core competencies for courseSpiral curriculum acknowledges that it takes multiple exposures for students to move past a thresholdEmphasis of inquiry over research (iterative process) = Research as Inquiry/Searching as Strategic ExplorationCourse is even called Focused Inquiry!Increasing emphasis on multimodal/digital creation = Information Creation as ProcessTeaching scholarship as a flowing conversation, not a fixed, unchanging thing = Scholarship as ConversationFYE library liaison reports that Information Fluency committee liked the Framework as it dovetails with and clearly articulates much of what they are already doing8

VCU as wholeRevised QEPs student learning goals: Students are integrative thinkers, = threshold concepts being defined by Meyer and Land as integrativeStudents are digitally fluent Framework depending heavily on metaliteracy, Information Creation as ProcessStaffing changes in VCULReorg, arrivals, departures, promotions, new positionsCONCLUSIONIn short, we identified were on the right track, at least, with a fair number of places where our instructional practices align with the Framework.Now that thats starting to settle down, well start looking at interacting with Framework more substantively9