Our mission at TCU is to educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community. Helping students understand the current information ecosystem by developing their information literacy is critical to the success of this mission.

In 2000, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), released a set of Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. In this document, information literacy is defined as a set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information (“Standards” sec. 1). However, with technology continuing to advance, and because the amount of information in the world continues to grow, leaders in ACRL decided that these standards needed to be reviewed and revised.

In 2015, the ACRL task force for developing new standards released their Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. In this Framework, information literacy is defined as “the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning” (“Framework” sec. 1). Beyond these definitions, there are some major difference between the Standards and the Framework. The standards were a fixed set of goals, outcomes and skills, while the frames are meant to be adaptable to the current higher education environment without a set sequence for instruction. The standards gave librarians the ability to measure and assess students’ progression towards the goals and outcomes of the standards, while the frames provide an opportunity for assessment that blends better with course outcomes. Finally, the frames are based on more current pedagogical theory and practices.

The Framework emphasizes the concept of metaliteracy: students are self-directed and self-reflective learners who are “consumers and creators of information who can participate successfully in collaborative spaces” (“Framework” sec. 1). Each frame contains three sections, a definition, knowledge practices, and dispositions or attitudes that learners should exhibit once they have mastered the concept.

The frames are presented here in alphabetical order and their basic definitions are as follows (please review the entire Framework document for a more comprehensive view of each Frame):

  • Authority Is Constructed and Contextual: Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need
    and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required.
  • Information Creation as a Process: Information in any format is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method. The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting product reflects these differences.
  • Information Has Value: Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as
    a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination.
  • Research as Inquiry: Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.
  • Scholarship as Conversation: Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations.
  • Searching as Strategic Exploration: Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops (“Framework” sec. 2).

These frames are not meant to be introduced all at once in a classroom setting, are not meant to be exhaustive, and are not meant to be learned in a short period of time. They do provide flexibility for integration and implementation into the curriculum for both librarians and faculty members who want their students to master these concepts (“Framework” sec. 1).

There are several easy ways these concepts can be integrated into your classroom. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Flip your class: Have students find information outside class so they can apply the concepts and work collaboratively while in class.
  • Create opportunities for students to learn about, work with, and produce different kinds of media.
  • Reiterate to students that they are information producers, and contributors in a community of scholarship. Let students have a say in choosing which media format best demonstrates their learning.
  • Create smaller communities of scholarship by working with other faculty members and students studying similar material.
  • Help students understand the benefits and consequences of creating content and interacting on social media.
  • Ask students to justify their use of different kinds of information in something like an annotated bibliography: given all the information in the world, why did they choose to use this source? What does this particular author contribute to this field of scholarship?

We all want our students to succeed in life. Helping students understand how they connect, create, and contribute to the information ecosystem is an important set of life skills relevant to TCU’s educational mission. Any of the research librarians at TCU would love to talk with you more about the Information Literacy Framework and how these concepts can be integrated in your syllabus.

Works Cited

“Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.” American Library Association. ALA, 9 Feb. 2015. Web. 14 April 2015. <http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework>

“Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.” American Library Association. ALA, 1 Sept. 2006. Web. 14 April 2015. <http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/informationliteracycompetency>

Robyn Reid
This article was written by Robyn Reid, Mary Couts Burnett Library, for the Fall 2015 Issue of Insights.