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Information Literacy or Literate Information?

Author(s): Joseph McDonald

Journal: MLA Forum
ISSN 1539-4123

Volume: 3;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2004;
Original page

Keywords: Information Literacy | Library Anxiety

Information literacy, as presented by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), is proposed as a “second curriculum” in undergraduate instruction. This paper is based on the results of a recently concluded 15-year longitudinal study of highly effective teachers conducted by Ken Bain, which argue that library based information literacy duplicates in poor fashion what effective teachers, with well-developed curricula, already accomplish with their students. Furthermore, information literacy does not produce well-educated students in any classic sense of the word. The best-sustained criticism of information literacy to date is rooted in postmodernist assumptions. However, information literacy is based on modernist assumptions and is intended for use by teachers and students who continue to base education on Enlightenment values. Information literacy instruction seeks to prepare students to make choices among a very large array of educational resources, which variety is thought to be essential to good education. However, based on recent research on choices and decision-making, students may have too many choices and the abundance of choice is likely to produce stress and anxiety. Fewer resources, when chosen by teachers for deep and nuanced pedagogical purposes, may produce better academic libraries.
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