Monday, February 28, 2005

Library Skills versus Literacy Skills

I am part of a project to help English TAs (lower levels English) incorporate information literacy into the curriculum. This is important is because we, the institution as a whole, might be adopting an information literacy assessment test that all graduates must take – and pass –in order to graduate. So basically I am part of a pilot test. It’s all very exciting, and I am fortunate to be a part of such an undertaking. Of course, adopting this test is a long way off, and it might not ever happen. But I’m still excited about it.

My role in the whole thing is as consultant and mentor to a set group of TAs. Part of the program is either revamping a current assignment or creating a brand spanking new assignment, both which must incorporate info lit skills into the assignment. What is frustrating for me is getting the TAs to understand what information literacy consists of (yes, I realize I ended this sentence with a preposition – get over it). I just received a proposed assignment from one of the TAs that focused on library skills - not info lit skills. My role is not to be the police. They can do what they want for assignments. But sometimes I just want to say, “Look, making a student check out a book in Library A should not be the outcome of this assignment. Writing down the hours to Library B should not be an outcome either.”

Every meeting I feel myself interjecting with a few suggestions, similar to the ones listed above, yet not so bluntly. After reviewing the assignment sent to me today, it makes me want to pull out my hair. I can remember being a freshman and not knowing how to search for information; however, I DO NOT remember being a freshman and not knowing how to check out a book, or not knowing where to find Journal A or Book B. Those things I kinda just learned on my own, either by watching others or by asking a librarian.

Needless to say, I have sent out an email encouraging my group of TAs to provide resources for their students to utilize outside of class, if they need help with library skills...but leave the assignments to the meatier goal, which is information literacy. If they can do that remains unseen. Does anyone else have issues similar to this? Besides offering clear and concise examples of what constitutes information literacy skills, and assignments that incorporate these skills, I am not sure what else to do.

More to come...