Conceptualization and practice of information literacy instruction in community colleges

Date
2016-01-01
Authors
Anderson, April
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Linda Serra Hagedorn
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Altmetrics
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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Abstract

This interpretive multi-case study methodology was conducted with five sites using interviews, observations, and document analysis to answer two research questions: (1) How do community colleges and their libraries' instructional mission statements/statements of purpose conceptualize and understand information literacy? and (2) How are Information Literacy Instruction Programs providing students information literacy instruction, as demonstrated in classroom information literacy instruction sessions? The problem is that students who graduate with an associate's degree and enter the workforce or transfer to university and have not had IL instruction will be at a disadvantage compared to students who have had access to IL instruction.

It is argued that students need to be information literate in order to fully participate in the academic system. Access to IL instruction in community colleges can vary widely. Some students receive IL instruction in their community college and some do not. The mission or vision statements of the five community colleges studied do not use the words ‘information literacy' at all. Not having IL in the mission or policy statements doesn't create a culture where IL is important. All of the sites struggle with faculty buy-in for IL instruction sessions. Some sites have less buy-in than others. Four of the five sites do not have a dedicated space for IL instruction sessions, one doesn't have computers for students to use in the IL instruction sessions. No site has IL instruction for online students.

The common IL instruction at all five programs are 50-70 minute sessions. All IL sessions teach the use of general information sources like Google and databases; the different command languages, protocols, and search parameters for different systems as well as how to identify keywords for the information needed; find the controlled vocabulary specific to the discipline or information retrieval source; construct a search strategy appropriate for the information retrieval system selected; and use either MLA or ALA style to cite sources. All programs discuss evaluating reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view or bias of potential resources. Those students who do receive IL instruction through the five programs are getting quality instruction.

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