IInformation literacy should be as basic to today's
curriculum as the 3R's have been in years past. Jeremy J. Shapiro
and Shelley K. Hughes question "what does a person need to know today
to be a full-fledged, competent and literate member of the information
society (Shapiro & Hughes, 1996, p.1)?" They point to the irony that
over 200 years ago Condorcet, a philosopher, educational reformer
and journalist who was in hiding from the Jacobin reign of terror
during the French Revolution, published a piece that could be relevant
to us today. Condorcet's belief that there was a "link between knowledge,
liberty and happiness - a conception that is reflected in the Declaration
of Independence and the U.S. Constitution - raises profound questions
for those of us involved and concerned with not only the implementation
and uses of information technology but with providing for knowledge
and literacy about this technology (p.1, 3)."
Shapiro and Hughes
were designing a curriculum with the college student in mind. The American
Association of School Librarians (AASL) and technology leader Jamie McKenzie
suggested guidelines for an information literacy curriculum more in line
with grades K-12. According to the AASL, to become effective information
users, students must have frequent opportunities to locate, interpret, analyze,
synthesize, evaluate, and communicate information (Montgomery, 1999). Jamie
McKenzie contends that asking students to merely gather information is using
yesterday's curriculum with today's technology (McKenzie, 2000). McKenzie
explains that information literacy has three major components:
and Hughes recommend that an effective information literacy
curriculum will have seven dimensions:
Tool literacy - the ability to understand and use the current
tools of technology: software, hardware, multimedia.
2. Resource literacy - the ability to understand how information
is formatted, stored, and retrieved electronically.
3. Social-structure literacy - the ability to understand something
about the individuals and groups that generate electronic information.
4. Research literacy - the ability to understand the tools relevant
to the work of today's scholars and researchers such as analytical
5. Publishing literacy - the ability to publish using both textual
and multimedia tools.
6. Emerging technology literacy - the ability to "ongoingly adapt
to, understand, evaluate and make use of the continually emerging
innovations in information technology so as not to be a prisoner
of prior tools and resources (p.4)."
7. Critical literacy - the ability to evaluate the advantages
and disadvantages of information technologies.
a generation of "free range students," students who have learned to "feed
on the wild grains and fragments available on the Internet or on the shelves
of the local library (McKenzie, 1998, p.16)." He sees availability of vast
amounts of information as an opportunity for students to become "infotectives,"
no longer limited to the distilled, second-hand information of the textbook.
He defines an "infotective" as a "student thinker capable of asking important
questions about data in order to convert the data into information…and eventually
into insight (p.2)." It is the responsibility of the schools to provide
the structures and tools to enable students to make meaning of information.
McKenzie warns, " 'info heaven' can become 'info hell' if we do not equip
students with the reasoning and exploration skills required to cope with
'info glut' (p. 3)."
digging for pertinent and reliable information, sifting through
and discarding information that is not useful.
2. Interpreting: understanding the usefulness of information
3. Creating new and fresh ideas: developing original insights
rather than merely rehashing the thoughts and words of others.
The need for information literacy certainly extends across the curriculum.
On a daily basis, educators see students struggling through what is increasingly
an overwhelming amount of information. The process of taking students from
research to writing is no longer a two-step process of taking information
from the text and/or encyclopedia and copying it into the traditional written
report format. Researchers Jacqueline Mancall, Shirley Aaron, and Sue Walker
(Mancall, 1986) in their article "Educating Students to Think: The Role
of the School Library Media Program," advise educators to revisit John Dewey's
words "All which the school can or need do for pupils, so far as their minds
are concerned is to develop the ability to think (p.20)." Their article
examines the critical role the librarian/media specialist should play in
designing a thinking curriculum for students, one that will prepare them
to survive in an increasingly complex society. They stress the importance
of teaching students to be "better observers, appliers, and evaluators of
ideas and information, all areas fundamental to the process of thinking
in a critical fashion (p. 20)." They question the value of a curriculum
that places more value on the product rather than the process. Research
should no longer be an exercise in finding "correct answers." Students need
strategies that will help them "develop insight and facility in structuring
successful approaches to solving their information needs (p.21)."
team has developed a list of ten skills essential to learning how
to do research:
In developing the
above list, these three researchers are confirming Jamie McKenzie's concern
for the need to provide students with the means for finding, evaluating
and using information.
between verifiable facts and value claims
2. Determining the reliability of a source
3. Determining the factual accuracy of a statement
4. Distinguishing relevant from irrelevant information, claims
5. Detecting bias
6. Identifying unstated assumptions
7. Identifying ambiguous or equivocal claims or arguments
8. Recognizing logical inconsistencies or fallacies in a life
9. Distinguishing between warranted or unwarranted claims
10. Determining the strength of an argument