On Becoming Legitimately Information Literate (Conclusion for Analyzing the ACRL Framework)

The last six posts explored the knowledge practices of the ACRL Framework through the lens of Legitimation Code Theory (LCT), a framework that describes the relationships between knowledge and knowers. LCT identifies four distinct specialization codes that define knowledge-knower relationships as illustrated in the figure below. Each quadrant in the figure represents a different way in which legitimacy might be defined within a social field of practice (i.e., discipline or profession).

Disciplines that define knowledge as the primary basis of legitimacy (see upper left quadrant) include science and math. In those disciplines, the possession of specialized knowledge reigns supreme, and the dispositions of knowers are far less important.

On the other hand, disciplines that emphasize “the right kind of knower” include art, literature, and the humanities, where specialized knowledge is defined by the dispositions of an exemplary knower (e.g., artist, writer). To become a legitimate knower means to cultivate one’s knowledge or skills through communities of practices, with the goal of reaching an apex of exemplary practice.

In the relativist range, anything goes, so I suppose that anything is legitimate.

The fourth specialization code is the elite code (upper right hand quadrant). This is where BOTH specialized knowledge AND the dispositions of knowers define legitimate practice. And this is where I see the ACRL Framework fitting. Why? Because the ACRL Framework defines both specific knowledge practices AND the dispositions of information literate students (the implications of that continue below).

Source: Slideshare presentation on the work of Karl Maton, epistemological access and social justice by Ria Vosloo (http://www.slideshare.net/brendauj/presentation-on-the-work-of-karl-maton-ep)

What are the implications of this analysis?

First of all, it revealed to me that the ACRL Framework needs additional work to fully define a legitimately information literate student. Many of the knowledge practices in the ACRL Framework really describe the knowledge itself rather than what can be done with that knowledge (knowing in action). While this indicates to me the importance of specialized knowledge in academic information literacy, it does not reconcile the knower with the knowledge needed. Perhaps we need to rename what is currently “knowledge practices” to “knowledge processes,” and then list a set of exemplary knowledge practices that better define the process and frames. That would certainly make the ACRL Framework a much more useful tool for practitioners (including classroom instructors).

Secondly, it is important to recognize that the addition of “dispositions” to the ACRL Framework is really what sets it apart from the old standards. That addition brings in the constructivist philosophy. However, to really emphasize the importance of knowers in the framework, I think it would help to make the dispositions and knowledge processes included in the framework more integrative. It would create that reconciliation I alluded to above.

Finally, by viewing the ACRL Framework as an elite specialization code (a combination of dispositions and knowledge), we must radically change the way information literacy is taught. It is no longer just the knowledge aspects that need to be addressed. It is also the dispositions. The question is, how do we foster these dispositions? This is where the library becomes a constructivist learning environment, where librarians aim toward developing communities of practice both informally (e.g., clubs, study groups, mentoring, peer tutoring) and formally (e.g., embedded libraries, integrated information literacy instruction) and where we begin helping students make connections between what they need to know and how they need to act to become legitimately information literate.


Analyzing the Knowledge Practices of the ACRL Framework (Part VI)

For today’s post, I analyzed the final frame of the ACRL Framework, “Searching as Strategic Exploration.” Essentially, this frame encompasses the very core of information literacy — Information Technology Fluency — so should be one of the very first sets of KPs that students encounter upon entering college (and hopefully they are entering college having had at least some exposure to these KPs in high school).

While for the most part these KPs are at least semi-visible, they miss the mark in terms of describing the actual product or output of knowledge (what does the knowledge look like when put into practice?). They also tend toward individual competencies rather than knowledge practices within a community of practice (of course, that’s also how they are typically taught).

However, we must remember that in this frame in particular, there may be wider variations in practice as students enter their chosen disciplines. As written in the ACRL Framework, the KPs in “Searching as Strategic Exploration” are probably more suited to the Social Sciences and Humanities rather than the hard Sciences (and that makes sense considering that they were likely written with the Comp classroom in mind).

In my next post, I will discuss how I looked at all the ACRL Framework’s KPs through the framework of Legitimation Code Theory (LCT), and how LCT can further inform (and in my opinion, better develop) the usability of the ACRL Framework.

Searching as Strategic Exploration
Knowledge Practice IL Facet Knowing in Action Instructional Strategies
Determine the initial scope of the task required to meet their information needs; Problem Solving Develop a strategic search plan:

·         determine the initial scope of the task required to meet information needs;

·         determine the types of information most appropriate to the task;

·         identify parties who might produce information about a topic and then determine how to access that information;

These first two KPs belong to the same category of research planning. To facilitate the development of research planning skills, use tools such as concept maps, graphic organizers, index cards (for organizing information), calendars (for time management), and collaboration tools.
Identify interested parties, such as scholars, organizations, governments, and industries, who might produce information about a topic and then determine how to access that information; Problem Solving
Utilize divergent (e.g., brainstorming) and convergent (e.g., selecting the best source) thinking when searching; Ways of Thinking; Problem Solving Demonstrate divergent and convergent thinking by justifying why a particular source(s) effectively solves the information problem. In order to assess this KP, it is essential that thinking be made visible, whether through think alouds, annotated bibliographies, presentations, narrated screencasts, etc…
Match information needs and search strategies to appropriate search tools; Information Technology Fluency; Problem Solving This should be part of the strategic planning process (see first two KPs above). See first strategy above.
Design and refine needs and search strategies as necessary, based on search results; Information Technology Fluency; Ways of Thinking;

Problem Solving;

Evaluate and revise the strategic search plan as needed. See first strategy above.
Understand how information systems (i.e., collections of recorded information) are organized in order to access relevant information; Information Technology Fluency This KP should be demonstrated during the strategic planning process (it goes along with the second KP). See first strategy above.
Use different types of searching language (e.g., controlled vocabulary, keywords, natural language) appropriately; Information Technology Fluency This is knowing in action when students find appropriate sources. It can be integrated into the strategic planning process (e.g., writing down potential search strings). See first strategy above.
Manage searching processes and results effectively Information Technology Fluency This is knowing in action when students implement an effective search plan [which results in effective research output]. The strategic search plan makes this KP easy to assess. See first strategy above.