Developing an Information Literacy Action Plan

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This article was downloaded by: [Universitat Politcnica de Valncia]On: 21 October 2014, At: 21:49Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UKCommunity & Junior College LibrariesPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wjcl20Developing an Information LiteracyAction PlanWendell G. Johnson aa Northern Illinois University , DeKalb, Illinois, USAPublished online: 24 Sep 2009.To cite this article: Wendell G. Johnson (2009) Developing an Information Literacy Action Plan,Community & Junior College Libraries, 15:4, 212-216To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02763910903269853PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wjcl20http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02763910903269853http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionsCommunity & Junior College Libraries, 15:212216, 2009Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 0276-3915 print / 1545-2522 onlineDOI: 10.1080/02763910903269853Developing an Information LiteracyAction PlanWENDELL G. JOHNSONNorthern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, USAIn order to increase the benefits that the student receives from bib-liographic instruction, many community college libraries are in-corporating the Information Literacy Competency Standards forHigher Education of the Association of College and Research Li-braries (ACRL) into their BI programs. In order to take full ad-vantage of the Competency Standards, community college librarieswould be well advised to develop an information literacy actionplan. Components of such a plan include a faculty survey, settinggoals, marketing, and assessment.KEYWORDS Information literacy, bibliographic instructionINTRODUCTIONCommunity colleges conduct a wide-ranging program of bibliographic in-struction (BI), which introduces students to online databases, OPAC, refer-ence collections, library services, etc. In order to increase the benefits that thestudent receives from BI, many community college libraries are incorporatingthe Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education of theAssociation of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) into their BI programs.In order to take full advantage of the Competency Standards, communitycollege libraries would be well advised to develop an information literacyaction plan. Information literacy is often defined as the ability to recognizethe need for information, to retrieve material from a variety of resources,evaluate this information in terms of task specific standards, and to translatethis ability into new environments beyond the classroom. Information literacyis not a new concept within the community college community: it incorpo-rates pedagogical goals such as critical thinking, technological competency,assessment, and lifelong learning.Address correspondence to Wendell G. Johnson, University Libraries, Northern IllinoisUniversity, DeKalb, IL 60115, USA. E-mail: wjohnso1@niu.edu212Downloaded by [Universitat Politcnica de Valncia] at 21:49 21 October 2014 Developing an Information Literacy Action Plan 213Altering a long-standing program of BI can be a laborious undertaking.Many established programs may not be organized or presented with a cen-tral focus. For example, each individual instructional librarian may utilize aunique, personalized syllabus for each session. The BI program itself maylack over-arching goals which guide the demonstration of databases. For-mally, a library can follow the report of the Boyer Commission, ReinventingUndergraduate Education (1998). Although the Boyer Commission targetedits report toward research universities, its suggestions hold merit for the ju-nior college as well, since many research universities conduct bibliographicinstruction for lower-division undergraduate studentsthe student body ofcommunity colleges. Information literacy can be incorporated at a varietyof levels: institutional mission statement, departmental curricula, individualcourse syllabi, etc. Used in this manner, information literacy can build onsuccessful instructional strategies already present in the instructional designof the particular college library. This essay details the steps undertaken byNorthern Illinois University in developing an information literacy action plan.BACKGROUNDThe ACRLs Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Educa-tion provide the framework for the instructional objectives of BI for lower-division undergraduates at Northern Illinois University. The BI program at theUniversity Libraries seeks to incorporate information competency standardsinto Freshman Experience and Freshman English Composition as well as incourse-integrated lower-division courses. Freshman Experience, or Univer-sity 101, focuses on Literacy Competency Standard One, whereby the studentidentifies information needs, explores different formats of potential sourcesof information, and discusses the organization of information. An informa-tion literacy trial project with UNIV 101 classes was undertaken in the fall2007 semester. Half of the UNIV 101 classes that came to the library for BIwere given a packet of material that included the following components: Website evaluation and sample Websites Database searching, which included research question, identification ofsearch terms, selection of appropriate databases, and an evaluation of theresults Searching for book in the online catalog by subject heading Session assessment, where the students completed an evaluation form thatincluded confidence markers (I feel confident that I could . . .) and anevaluation of the specific activity units of the sessionThe trial was evaluated positively by the participants. However, it was clearthat the standard fifty minute BI was too truncated to demonstrate theDownloaded by [Universitat Politcnica de Valncia] at 21:49 21 October 2014 214 W. G. Johnsonmaterial and undertake the assessment. It was also obvious that withoutassignments, students lacked a focal point for research. Freshman retentionclasses such as UNIV 101 seek to welcome students to the school and makethem comfortable with academic life. Unfortunately, our particular experi-ence gave the students information overload at the start of the semester.AN INFORMATION LITERACY ACTION PLANInformation Literacy SurveyOne helpful, initial step in developing the plan is to conduct a survey. Asurvey can judge the support that the teaching faculty has for informationliteracy. The University Libraries commissioned such a survey of faculty re-garding the role of information literacy in the classroom. The survey aimedto assess how the library might better serve the instructional needs of thestudents. Further, it gauged faculty perceptions of information literacy andinterest in collaborating with the library in developing course components.Nearly a third (32%, n = 345) of respondents were familiar with informationliteracy and felt that it was an important component of classroom instruc-tion, particularly classes for first-year students. Half of the faculty indicatedthat they included information literacy in their coursework. In these courses,information literacy was assessed by means of graded assignments and re-search papers. Although 68% of the faculty expressed interest in library col-laboration, these instructors were from departments that routinely bring theirclasses to the library for BI. According to the survey, the greatest need for in-formation literacy skills currently resides with lower-division undergraduatestudentsprecisely the student body of the community college.Goals and Objectives of the Proposed Information Literacy ProgramIn order to embed information literacy competency standards in BI, the li-brary must set clear goals and objectives and seek faculty support. Our goalwas to identify departments to expand course-integrated instruction. Course-integrated instruction in freshman English classes has clear mandates withregard to instructional objectives. Hence, the instructional librarian must actjudiciously to avoid compromising successful programs by explicitly intro-ducing the information literacy competency standards and creating infor-mation overload. An information literacy initiative could be introduced intogeneral library orientation for those students who generally do not frequentthe library. Usually, however, a stand-alone session offered apart from anacademic assignment fails to introduce information literacy successfully tothe student. It is clear that libraries have a variety of teaching environmentsupon which to base their information literacy initiatives. Most libraries haveDownloaded by [Universitat Politcnica de Valncia] at 21:49 21 October 2014 Developing an Information Literacy Action Plan 215long term-term relationships in place with a number of faculty from variousdepartments. Evidence suggests that successful course-integrated instructionfor one faculty member often leads to the recruitment of other faculty andclasses in the same department.JustificationAs a result of the survey, the goals we set, and experience with UNIV 101,we decided that an online tutorial would meet the needs of our studentsand introduce them to the Information Literacy Competency Standards. Ourpreference would have been the creation of a for-credit library course. Al-though it may not be possible to introduce for-credit library classes withcurrent budgetary constraints, this option should be kept open for futureconsideration. A Web-based tutorial addresses elements of the InformationLiteracy Competency Standards and provides a comprehensive introductionto the evaluation of information. Students who complete the tutorial areequipped with an introduction to the theoretical/pedagogical characteristicsof academic resources as well as a basic understanding of the resourcesthemselves. This skill set facilitates future interviews at the reference deskand subsequent student-faculty interaction in BI sessions. The tutorial willreach students who do not attend formal instructional sessions in the libraryand provides a virtual alternative to in situ BI. The challenge for commu-nity college libraries is providing basic instruction for students who are notfamiliar with libraries, and the Web-based tutorial meets this challenge.MarketingInasmuch as the oversight of the proposed project lies with the library, mar-keting of the project is best delayed until the tutorial is completed. At thispoint, the tutorial can be advertised on the librarys Website and in the li-brarys newsletter. Program coordinators and library liaisons can be apprisedof the tutorial and asked to evaluate and publicize it as a departmental re-source. Links to subject-specific advanced searching modules may also beposted on the appropriate subject page on the librarys Website.AssessmentIndividual student learning outcomes associated with the tutorial are mosteasily measured by means of a brief quiz at the end of each section ormodule. The questions must be answered correctly before the student canproceed to the next module. Assessment instruments should include not onlystudent performance on intellectual content, but also student evaluation ofDownloaded by [Universitat Politcnica de Valncia] at 21:49 21 October 2014 216 W. G. Johnsonthe tutorials appearance, ease of manipulation, and general usefulness. Ifthe tutorial is offered to a large group of students, a follow-up survey ofinstructors can assess the impact the tutorial has on the information needsof a particular class.CONCLUSIONTry as they might, librarians do not always meet the information needsof the students or the expectations of the faculty members. Developing andadopting an information literacy action plan can assist the community collegelibrary in meeting both of these challenges.Downloaded by [Universitat Politcnica de Valncia] at 21:49 21 October 2014

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