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Designing Effective Writing Assignments and the Teaching of Information Literacy

Designing Effective Writing Assignments and the Teaching of Information Literacy

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Designing Effective Writing Assignments and the Teaching of Information Literacy

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  1. Designing Effective Writing Assignments and the Teaching of Information Literacy Irmin Allner, Ph.D. Jernigan Library September 2009

  2. General Strategies • The Assignment • Alternatives to Typical Research and Term Paper Assignments • Research and Term Papers • Different conceptions of what constitutes information literacy, i.e. research skills • Some pedagogical approaches to the teaching of research skills Overview (First four topics based on “Designing Effective Writing Assignments.” In Barbara Gross Davis, Tools for Teaching (pp. 213-221). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.

  3. Assign several short papers • Occasionally test out the assignment by pretending to be a student and completing it yourself • Keep copies of good papers in a department or library file • Keep notes on the success and pitfalls of each assignment General Strategies

  4. State the topic • Define the task • Create realistic writing situations • For first-year students, turn each step of a large assignment into a smaller assignment The Assignment

  5. Distribute a handout for each written assignment • Discuss the assignment in class • Ask students to select someone to read their first draft The Assignment

  6. Article for a professional journal • Abstract for a professional journal • Book review for a professional journal • Update of the readings Alternatives to Typical Research and Term Paper Assignments

  7. Letter of critique to the author of the textbook • In-class poster session • Interview Alternatives to Typical Term Paper Assignments

  8. Clarify what skills you expect students to develop as they complete the term paper assignment. • Check with your library to make sure it can support your research requirement. • Invite a librarian to make a presentation to your students Research and Term Papers

  9. Do not send an entire class in search of the same information. • Break the term paper assignment into manageable chunks. • Specify a style manual. Research and Term Papers

  10. Designing effective writing assignments is an integral part of teaching information literacy. Close interrelationship between writing assignments and teaching of information literacy

  11. Abundance and diversity of information resources • Question about authenticity, validity, and reliability • We need to be able to evaluate, understand and effectively use information Why is information literacy important?

  12. “Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” [Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, Assoc. of College & Research Libraries (ACRL)] Definition and Learning Outcomes

  13. The information literate student • determines the nature and extent of the information needed; • accesses needed information effectively and efficiently; • evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system; Definition and Learning Outcomes

  14. uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose; • understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally. [Information Literacy Competency Standard for Higher Education, Assoc. of College & Research Libraries (ACRL)] Definition and Learning Outcomes

  15. Students need instruction in these competencies throughout their academic career. • They need to have repeated opportunities for seeking, evaluating, and managing information gathered from multiple sources and discipline-specific research methods. Development of information literacy competencies takes times

  16. Definition of Information Literacy (Australia) • The information technology conception – information literacy is seen as using information technology for information retrieval and communication (Category one) • The information sources conception – information literacy is seen as finding information (Category two) Seven Faces of Information Literacy (C. S. Bruce)

  17. The information process conception – information literacy is seen as executing a process (Category three) • The information control conception – information literacy is seen as controlling information (Category four) • The knowledge construction conception – information literacy is seen as building up personal knowledge base in a new area of interest (Category five) Seven Faces of Information Literacy (C. S. Bruce)

  18. The knowledge extension base – information literacy is seen as working with knowledge and personal perspectives adopted in such a way that novel insights are gained (Category six) • The wisdom conception – information literacy is seen as using information wisely for the benefits of others (Category seven) Seven Faces of Information Literacy (C. S. Bruce)

  19. Australian version of ACRL Standards for information literacy has additional two standards: • Recognizes that lifelong learning and participative citizenship requires information literacy. • Expands, reframes or creates new knowledge by integrating prior knowledge and new understandings individually or as a member of a group. Australian Version of ACRL Standards

  20. Information literacy Novice Advanced beginner Competent Proficient Expert Construct strategies for locating Locate and access Compare and evaluate Organise, apply and communicate Synthesise and create Distinguish ways of addressing gap Recognise information need Basic Library Skills IT Skills SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy (England)

  21. Setting measurable observable objectives and developing standardized ways to measure learning are all based on the Behaviorist approach. Behaviorism or Stimulus-Response Approach

  22. Learning is based on reinforcement of desirable behavior. • Immediate reinforcement or feedback must follow desired behavior for the behavior to be learned. • Undesirable behavior should never be reinforced. Behaviorism or Stimulus-Response Approach

  23. Behaviorism or Stimulus-Response Approach • Active participation is crucial to learning. • Learners should be allowed to move at their own pace. • Learners should be tested for mastery at each stage of learning and should not be allowed to proceed to the next level unless they have mastered preceding ones. Behaviorism or Stimulus-Response Approach

  24. Focuses on students engaging with information to solve a problem and thereby creating new understanding through active investigation and thought, instead of memorizing facts presented in class lectures. • Learning is viewed as a process in which learners construct understanding rather than merely take in ideas and memorize them. Constructivist Approach

  25. Emphasis on Discovery • Instructor designs learning experiences in which learners discover for themselves solutions to problems and by extension the concepts, skills or strategies needed to formulate these solutions. • Teacher steps back from center-stage and allows the learners to find their own way to solutions. Constructivist Approach

  26. The relational approach to information literacy refers to the experiences that people encounter in using information and the capacity to discern which forms of information literacy are applicable to different situations of need. Relational Approach

  27. Library skills Information literacy Information skills Carey’s (1998) information literacy continuum

  28. Library skills: Students find information from multiple sources and use it in preparing reports and presentations. • Information literacy: Students construct personal solution strategies for information problems, and generalize, test, and adopt those strategies in new problem situations. Carey’s description of differences in student learning outcomes

  29. Different level of information literacy competencies require different pedagogical approaches. • Library skills of locating and accessing information are not the same as the higher thinking competencies of knowing how to evaluate, interpret, and use information. • Necessary to use a number of appropriate approaches. Different levels of competencies

  30. Problems are deliberately ill-structured (or open-ended) and are typically based on real-life simulations; they are designed for thoughtful and careful analysis to help improve critical thinking skills by applying the learner’s own expertise and experience to data collection, analysis, and formulation of a solution. Problem-Based Learning

  31. First step in developing a PBL activity is to find or create a problem or situation that needs a solution. • Best resources of good problems are newspapers or popular magazines. • Contemporary situations work best for writing problems that get and keep a learner’s attention. • Problems are deliberately ill-structured (or open-ended) and based on real-life simulation. Problem-Based Learning

  32. Binge drinking • Academic integrity (cheating, plagiarism) • Hazing • Technology issues (i.e. piracy) • Stem-cell research • Environmental issues (nuclear energy) Some topics that work well for PBL activities

  33. They are engaging • They have structure • They are adaptable • They are collaborative Criteria for Good Problems

  34. In Problem Based Learning activities, learners should • gather facts based on what is known, • identify and ask questions about what is not known, • formulate a problem statement and hypothesize about the solution, • locate information to support those ideas, • evaluate the materials they find. Problem-Based Learning Activities

  35. Sets up the problem situation • Balances student-direction with assistance • Contributes knowledge and experiences • Creates a pleasant learning environment • Stimulates critical evaluation of ideas Instructor’s Role

  36. Interdisciplinary courses, in which students learn to think reflectively and address complex, real-world problems, enable the development of complex critical thinking skills. Development of higher level information literacy skills

  37. Capstone project requirement (University of Vermont), which involves students synthesizing materials across disciplines to support research on complex environmental problems Environmental Studies as an Interdisciplinary Area of Study

  38. Working with multiple methods • Within multiple theoretical frameworks • With different attitudes between natural and social science approaches to problems Challenges of Interdisciplinary Environmental Research

  39. Objectives of Course: • Help students to understand the proper use of scientific method in both personal decision-making and in service to others • Build competencies in both literature-seeking skills and critical analysis of results • Work effectively as team members in making interesting, accurate, & informative presentations to peers “The Misapplication of Science: Personal Perils and Social Cost” (Moravian College)

  40. Pedagogical approach based on following evidence-based decision making: • Form a focused question • Conduct a comprehensive search of the literature • Critically evaluate the literature obtained • Determine whether there is enough evidence to answer question Pedagogical Approach (Moravian College)

  41. Pedagogy for an information literacy program “links information literacy to ongoing course work and real-life experience appropriate to program and course level.” (“Characteristics of Programs of Information Literacy that Illustrate Best Practice: A Guideline,” Association of College & Research Libraries) Conclusion

  42. Designing effective writing assignments is an integral part of teaching information literacy. Conclusion