Friday, December 12, 2014

The (Third) Draft Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education: My Thoughts and Survey Feedback

Feedback on the Association of College and Research Libraries' third draft of the Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education is due today. It will most likely be the last round of feedback the ARCL solicits before various committees and the ACRL board vote on the document. You can view the third draft here. Your thoughts are welcomed, via a survey, before 5pm US Central time. Mine are below.

First, let's compare two definitions of "information literacy," one from the third draft, the other from the second. 


In terms of style, I am partial towards the latter, from the second draft. I prefer a paragraph to bullets and I don't care for bolding some of the text. What I do like about this new definition is the final bullet point. 

The next set of survey questions concerns the frames, and they have come a long way. A positive way. I have been critical in particular of the Information Has Value frame. I like it much more now, and the Dispositions in particular are robust. All the same, dissent is important, and I advise members of the Information Literacy Taskforce, ACRL committees, and board to read and reflect on what Lane Wilkinson has written about the frames.

The main issue I have with these updated frames is now Searching is Strategic, an aspirational statement for anyone who's spent time at a reference desk. Searching can and should be strategic, but elsewhere the framework notes that the research process is messy, and even the dispositions for this frame note the role that serendipity plays in searching. Instead, I would like the committee to rephrase this as "Searching is Exploration," as was the case in previous drafts.

In terms of responsiveness to previous feedback, both Threshold Concepts and metaliteracy are fait accompli here; neither was ever seriously up for debate, and a scholarly cottage industry is already being built around these terms, the former of which is largely unproven and takes advantage of a lack of educational pedagogy (pdf) in Library and Information Science education, the latter of which adds jargon to an already crowded language.

I hope members of the Information Literacy Taskforce, ACRL committees, and board read and reflect on Patrick Morgan's critique of TCs. Replacing standards with a framework should not be an abdication of expertise and authority on the part of the ACRL, and that organization should attempt to combat this perception.

A few stray thoughts:

The Framework opens the way for librarians, faculty, and other institutional partners to redesign instruction sessions, assignments, courses, and even curricula; to connect information with student success initiatives; to collaborate on pedagogical research and involve students themselves in that research; and to create wider conversations about student learning, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and the assessment of learning on local campuses and beyond. (1)
This opening, via assessments, trial and error, or other methods, could have, would have, should have been done already by institutions with robust IL programs.


The real promise of this framework remains its ability to spark conversations between librarians, faculty, and administrators, roles, and most importantly, people, who are all too often disconnected on campuses, be they physical or virtual. The success, or failure, of the framework depends in large part on our ability, as librarians, to take this document to our communities and spark those conversations.


At my place of work, the administration seems committed to using the Information Literacy Rubric from the American Association of Universities and Colleges.


Please see also, my previous writing on the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education.
The (Second) Draft Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education: My Thoughts
Ethics, Copyright, and Information Literacy, Letters to a Young Librarian
The Draft Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education: Some Initial Thoughts
The Draft Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education: Survey Feedback