Faculty Perceptions of ACRL's Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

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<ul><li><p>Faculty Perceptions ofLiteracy Competency SHigher Education</p><p>by Shelley Gullikson</p><p>Available online 31 July 2006</p><p>Faculty were asked how important for theirstudents the Association of College and</p><p>Research Libraries Information LiteracyCompetency Standards outcomes are, and</p><p>when students should display the relevant skills.Faculty believe most of the Standardsoutcomes are important but show little</p><p>agreement on when students should acquirethem.</p><p>arching university curriculum, and IL is integrated in a number of</p><p>use the Standards in developing and assessing IL instruction.</p><p>SheM</p><p>bsgullikson@mta.caN.The Journal ofprogram.7 This last sense of curriculum integration seems to bewhat is referred to in ACRLs Characteristics of Programs ofInformation Literacy that Illustrate Best Practices: A Guideline,which includes an entire category called Articulation within theCurriculum,8 and this is how curriculum-integrated IL will beinterpreted here.</p><p>Instruction librarians are encouraged to work with faculty tointegrate IL into the curriculum and we are also encouraged to</p><p>lley Gullikson, Information Literacy Coordinator,ount Allison University Libraries, 49 York Street,</p><p>Sackville, NB, Canada E4L 1C6courses like first year English, or through participation in First YearExperience programs.5 In some cases, the curriculum simplyrefers to the curriculum of a single course, and IL instruction isintegrated into that one course.6 In other cases, the curriculumrefers to an academic departments curriculum, so that curriculum-integrated IL encompasses several courses throughout a degreewaysthrough stand-alone IL courses, through integration in coreAcademic Librarianship, Volume 32, Number 6, pages 583592ACRLs Informationtandards for</p><p>INTRODUCTION</p><p>ACRLs Information Literacy Competency Standards forHigher Education (hereafter referred to as the Standards) werepublished in 2000 and have had wide acceptance by librariansin colleges and universities in the United States and Canadaand beyond. Many librarians base their information literacy(IL) instruction programs and assessment instruments on theStandards.1 The Project for the Standardized Assessment ofInformation Literacy Skills (Project SAILS) and the Informa-tion and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy Assess-ment from Educational Testing Services (ETS) are two high-profile assessment instruments developed for large-scaleassessment of IL that have drawn on the Standards. ProjectSAILS has mapped its skill sets directly from the Standardsoutcomes and objectives,2 whereas the ETS ICT LiteracyAssessment was developed using the Standards but does notset out which specific outcomes are covered.3 Workshopsoffered by ACRL on assessment of IL also use the Standardsas their base.4 The Standards are quite firmly entrenched ininformation literacy instruction and assessment in our collegesand universities.</p><p>A common theme in the years before and since the publication ofthe Standards has been integrating information literacy into thecurriculum. In some cases, the curriculum refers to the over-November 2006 583</p></li><li><p>Taken together, this means we are to work with faculty tointegrate our standardized skills into their curriculum. Inpractice, librarians and faculty will often work together to</p><p>assessed using the Standards, but few articles go into detailabout how or if the faculty members actually worked withthe Standards themselves. Cecelia Brown and Lee R.decide what should be covered and then the librarian mapswhat has been decided onto the Standards document.9</p><p>However, as librarians move to use the Standards for assess-ment of IL instruction (through Project SAILS, the ETS ITCtest, or a homegrown model coming out of an ACRLworkshop), the Standards will have to be incorporated at thebeginning of the process in order to ensure students are taughtwhat they are evaluated on. Faculty are therefore more likely tobe working directly with the Standards in these collaborativeprocesses.</p><p>This research seeks to find out what teachingfaculty think about the Standards; how</p><p>important are each of those 87 outcomesfor their students?</p><p>The library instruction literature has not yet examined in anydetail faculty perceptions about the Standards. This researchseeks to find out what teaching faculty think about theStandards; how important are each of those eighty-sevenoutcomes for their students? At what academic level do facultyexpect their students to display the skills in these outcomes?Integration of IL in the curriculum tends to assume that IL willbe taught over the course of a disciplinary program, buildingthe skills over time. Knowing at what point faculty believetheir students require those skills is vital for that process.</p><p>LITERATURE REVIEW</p><p>There have been several surveys of faculty on the topic oflibrary instruction reported in the literature. Anita Cannonlooked at what factors led to faculty taking advantage of libraryinstruction.10 Gloria J. Leckie and Anne Fullerton lookedspecifically at faculty of Engineering and their attitudes aboutlibrary instruction.11</p><p>Annemarie B. Singh recently reported the results of afaculty survey that did include questions about the Standards.12</p><p>Faculty in accredited journalism programs were asked if theyjudged their students to be information literate, given theStandards definition. Singh does not go into detail about whatpart of the Standards faculty responded to, and the results arenot broken down by specific standards or outcomes.</p><p>In one study where faculty attitudes about specific IL skillswere examined, Jacqui Weetman asked faculty, in part, if theythought seven specific IL skills were important.13 The researchwas conducted in the UK and used the headline skills from theSCONUL Seven Pillars model14 rather than the Standards. Theheadline skills under study would be parallel to the five broadstandards; they are not broken down into more specific skills,as in the case of the Standards outcomes. The large majorityof faculty in Weetmans study believed all seven skills to beimportant for their students.</p><p>Even when looking beyond faculty surveys, there isrelatively little in the literature about faculty and theStandards. What is there generally discusses librarianfaculty collaborations where IL instruction is developed or</p><p>584 The Journal of Academic LibrarianshipKrumholz, a librarian and a faculty member, collaboratedon integrating IL into a microbiology course and used theStandards to assess students IL skills.15 The article doesnot specify which outcomes were used for assessment, onlythat The librarian assessed their ability to locate, evaluate,and effectively use the information in the papers usingchecklists based on the ACRL standards.16 The facultymember assessed students literacy events, but it does notappear that the Standards were used in this assessment.</p><p>Madeline Ford and Clay Williams discuss a collaborationbetween a faculty member and a librarian and mention manyspecific outcomes from the Standards.17 However, the out-comes have been correlated with an existing instructiondocument, so it does not appear that the faculty member wasinvolved in actually working with the Standards.</p><p>Molly R. Flaspohler reports on a grant project with fivefaculty members to integrate and assess information literacyskills into a first year sequence of courses.18 Faculty wereengaged in a lengthy discussion of the ACRL InformationLiteracy Competencies for Higher Education19 but theStandards are not specifically mentioned again in the article.The topics taught in the revamped instruction sessions aredescribed (using the library catalogue, evaluating and identify-ing types of periodicals, using a periodical index), but not interms of the Standards or its outcomes.</p><p>Lori E. Buchanan, L. Luck DeAnne, and Ted C. Jonesdescribe the collaboration of a communications professor withtwo librarians to integrate the Standards into a communicationscourse.20 Buchanan et al. even get down to the level of themore specific objectives devised by the Instruction Section ofACRL. They report that the professor was very interested instudents learning how to find and evaluate Web content.However, it is not clear whether the communications professorhelped to select the specific IL outcomes and objectives to becovered in the course.</p><p>In Ann M. Feigen, Bennett Cherry, and Kathleen Watsonsarticle describing a project where faculty did work with theStandards, faculty were only involved in mapping outcomesand objectives from the Standards to their courses existinglearning outcomes.21 Although faculty read the Standards andapplied them in this case, there is no mention of facultyreaction to the Standards themselves.</p><p>There is little in the existing literature to give librariansguidance on which parts of the Standards faculty are mostinterested in incorporating into their curricula. Becauselibrarians are encouraged to collaborate with faculty tointegrate IL into the curriculum, some sense of what facultythink about the IL outcomes would be useful. By surveyingfaculty on the specific outcomes in the Standards, this studyseeks to come up with a starting point for discussions withfaculty on which of the Standards outcomes are mostimportant to cover, and at what academic level these outcomesare expected of students.</p><p>METHODS</p><p>The study was carried out in two phases. Phase one involved asurvey of faculty at Mount Allison University, a primarilyundergraduate institution in Sackville, New Brunswick. Oneyear later, phase two expanded to survey faculty members at</p></li><li><p>each universitys term break and the remainder at the end ofterm. In two instances this was not possible; in one case a longdelay in receiving approval from the institutions ResearchEthics Board meant all surveys were sent at the end of term,and in the other case the end-of-term surveys would haveconflicted with that librarys plans for doing their own surveyof faculty so only half of the intended number weredisseminated.</p><p>Pre-addressed surveys were mailed to the instructionlibrarians who had agreed to assist with the study, and theysent the surveys to faculty through campus mail. The samplewas drawn from faculty listed in the institutions campusdirectory where possible, or else from the academic calendarsfaculty listing. In order to be comparable to the Mount Allisonsurvey size, sample size for each institution was set at 160.Random sampling was used where the list of faculty numberedgreater than 160, otherwise surveys were sent to all faculty. Inthe end, 146 surveys were sent to faculty at Cape BretonUniversity, only eighty to Mount Saint Vincent (due to anadministrative misunderstanding), 160 to St. Francis Xavier,and 160 to the University of Prince Edward Island. The twoversions of the survey were distributed randomly but evenlyamong the samples (i.e., seventy-three of each to Cape BretonUniversity, forty of each to Mount Saint Vincent, etc.). Facultyreturned their surveys in a sealed envelope to the contact</p><p>Table 1Categorization of Departments into Schools</p><p>Table 2Outcomes of Highest Average ImportanceOverall</p><p>Rank Mean N Label Outcome</p><p>1 3.9545 66 5.2f Demonstrates an understanding</p><p>of what constitutes plagiarism</p><p>and does not represent work</p><p>attributable to others as his/her</p><p>own</p><p>2 3.8642 81 3.1a Reads the text and selects</p><p>main ideasother institutions in the region. E-mail messages were sent toheads of library instruction at seven primarily undergraduateuniversities requesting assistance with the dissemination andcollection of the survey. Librarians from four institutions Cape Breton University in Sydney, Nova Scotia; Mount SaintVincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint FrancisXavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia; and theUniversity of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown, PrinceEdward Island agreed to assist with the study.</p><p>In February 2004, surveys were sent through campus mail toall 153 full- and part-time faculty at Mount Allison Universitywho were teaching in the Winter term. One letter of reminderwas sent to the same faculty members two weeks later. Thesurvey instrument listed the eighty-seven outcomes from the fivestandards. For each outcome, respondents were asked howimportant they believed it to be for their students to have thatskill. A four-point scale of not important, somewhatimportant, important, and very important was used, withan additional option of dont know. Respondents were alsoasked at what academic level they expected their students tohave that skill. They could select first year of university, secondyear, third year, fourth year, later, in high school, or never. Fivedemographic questions were asked regarding gender, number ofyears taught, full-time or part-time status, and in which School(e.g., Arts, Science) and department they taught.</p><p>Thirty-two surveys were returned, for a response rate of 21percent. Informal feedback indicated that the surveys werefound to be very lengthy. It was decided that in the secondphase, the survey would be split in half in the hopes of</p><p>Schools Departments</p><p>Arts Communication; Culture, Heritage,</p><p>and Leisure Studies; English; History</p><p>Science Biology; Chemistry; Engineering/Math/</p><p>Computer Science; Family and</p><p>Nutritional Sciences; Physics; Psychology</p><p>Social Science Economics; Anthropology/Sociology;</p><p>Geography; Political Science; Problem</p><p>Centered Studies</p><p>Professional Business; Education;</p><p>Financial/Information Managementimproving the response rate. The surveys were split as follows:the forty-two outcomes from Standards 1 and 3 comprisedSurvey 1, and the forty-five outcomes from Standards 2, 4, and5 comprised Survey 2. Dividing the surveys in this way keptthe outcomes grouped by standard and made the two surveys ofcomparable length. The eight-page, 179-question surveybecame a five-page survey of eighty-nine questions for Survey1 and ninety-five questions for Survey 2. There was alsoinformal feedback on the timing of the survey; some facultyliked that the timing coincided with the week-long term break,others indicated they would have preferred receiving the surveyat the end of term.</p><p>In Spring 2005, the modified surveys were sent out. Toaddress the timing concerns brought up in phase one, anattempt was made to send half of the surveys to coincide with3 3.8375 80 3.1b Restates textual concepts in</p><p>his/her own words and selects</p><p>data accurately</p><p>4 3.759 83 3.4c Draws conclusions based upon</p><p>information gathered</p><p>5 3.7531 81 1.1c Explores general information</p><p>sources to increase familiarity</p><p>with the topic</p><p>6 3.7424 66 4.3d Communicates clearly and with a</p><p>style that supports the purposes of</p><p>the intended audience</p><p>7 3.7342 79 1.1e Identifies key concepts and terms</p><p>that describe the information need</p><p>8 3.7317 82 3.2c Recognizes prejudice,</p><p>deception, or manipulation</p><p>9 3.7273 66 5.3a Selects an appropriate</p><p>documentation style and uses it</p><p>consistently to cite sources</p><p>10 3.7077 65 2.5d Records all pertinent citation</p><p>information for future reference</p><p>November 2006 585</p></li><li><p>and Fullertons response rate of 28 percent, and is quite abit lower than Cannons response rate of...</p></li></ul>

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