FALL 2014

Transformative Learning: Creating a Framework for Information Literacy

Library instruction is the term that librarians use to describe the educational outreach we do in the library, and we consider the concept of information literacy a critical aspect of the education that we provide. Information literacy is a way to empower students in navigating the world of research in their disciplines and in organizing their research projects and information sources. With an ever-expanding technology and information landscape, new forms of scholarship and sources, and shifts that networked information have caused in the research process, libraries and higher education more broadly are facing challenges in teaching information literacy.

Under the direction of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association, a task force is reviewing our existing Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. The Standards are used by many higher education institutions, Boston College included, to guide library instruction. A vetted and finalized draft of a new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education will be reviewed and most likely adopted by ACRL in 2015. Boston College librarians are providing feedback and discussing the implications of the new Framework, and plan to review our goals, practices, and curricula around information literacy in light of the new document.

Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education

A prominent change in the new Framework is that it is less of a prescriptive checklist for the kinds of distinct skills we expect from an information-literate student, and more of a conceptual understanding of the information and research environment. This shift is welcome in the library field, as we have seen our own work shift so much from a clearly defined set of resources, tools and systems to one where it seems every year the ground shifts and we must apply our experience and expertise to think critically and grasp the expanded information world. We expect, too, that this aligns with the experiences of many of our departments and centers on campus, where the larger research and scholarly environment is growing, changing, and developing as a result of expanded technology and new ways of working. We plan to engage Boston College faculty and programs in both assessing the effectiveness of information literacy instruction, and in developing and defining the goals and learning outcomes using the new Framework.

The Framework is built upon six frames for addressing information literacy. The frames are influenced by the "threshold concept" work of economists Jan Meyer and Ray Land in 2003. A key component of the threshold concept is transformative learning, where learning is like passing through a doorway from one way of knowing to a different "room" or new way of knowing. ACRL is using the idea of threshold concepts to create a scaffold of information literacy learning where the frame exists between a set of interrelated concepts, and disciplines and learners can create a path upon the scaffold, using the frames that most relate to their work, each in their own unique way.

title The six Information Literacy frames identified in the ACRL Framework.

We are interested in your feedback and questions, and look forward to providing opportunities for our campus community to participate in this review process. We hope to build upon the successful programs and partnerships currently in place within our academic community, and continue to deepen and broaden our reach to ensure students from Boston College are competent information-literate citizens who can navigate the world of information in their research and service in the world. For further information, please feel free to contact me directly or your subject librarian.

Este Pope
Head, Instruction Services