and on the Adjunct Faculty of Library and Information Science at Simmons College.
Educators view information literacy as a concept without tangible points. Further complicating how educators view information literacy are their individual grade level and/ or content area perspectives. Educators often prefer to determine conceptual points collectively labeled as the “research process.” Limited by time constraints, educators often focus on the writing or the final product rather than the steps necessary to to produce a quality product. Unless working collaboratively, “research processes” between educators may lack consistency, leaving students to focus on each teacher’s process rather than the content. Without proper guidance, educator directions to “research” may be interpreted by students as “Go Google it.” Without proper guidance to plan for the location and evaluation of resources, students potentially can generate information that lacks the organization and authority to meet objective expectations, leaving an educator to wonder about the quality of student work.
Students are the most interesting stakeholders when it comes to understanding information literacy. Versatile by necessity, student experiences have allowed for self-practiced choices and methods for seeking information. Associating the word “research” with intense and agonizing work and writing, students have no connection to the term “information literacy.” Student searching is conditional. Students want to select the content, design their own search methods and have fast information results. Without guidance or a plan, students usually conduct social searches when a more academic plan for authoritative resources is necessary. Assigned topics are considered “boring.” Left without authoritative direction, students have no choice than to rely on each other to develop researching methods leading to the self- perception that their information behaviors are masterful and efficient. Without consistent grade level and context specific instruction, students have developed confidence in the search habits they share with each other. Yet, within a student’s self-confidence resides the unique opportunity to investigate when engaged. While adults may hesitate, students possess a willingness to search, a curiosity to dig deeper, and a fearlessness that even when a computer breaks & systems fail, they will find a way to persevere.
The commonality of Value connects the varied perspective of stakeholder perspectives. Each stockholder values the ability to search, the results, and potential uses of information. But is this enough? Can value be further unpack and the intertwined into the information behaviors present in the oscillatory steps of an information literacy model? Discovering the potential requires an unpacking of the concept of “value.” While many will define “value” as something important or having to do with principles, unpacking it requires we look to it conceptually.
Unpacked, Value is comprised of two parts, ethics and aesthetics. While the ethical part of value is well known in schools, the aesthetic is not as common. Ethical value places importance on the right and wrong of a situation, method, thought process, action and more. Often the choice made comes with consequences that can be known or unknown to the person. Correctly using and citing information reveals ethical value. Aesthetic value placed appreciation on the beauty or contributions of a given work. Creating a piece of work that shares authoritative and credible information reveals an appreciation for what the works contributes and the who created it.
Unpacked, both ethical and aesthetic value intertwined into each point of an information literacy model results in a consistent self-reflection that drives information behaviors. As students begin to develop a research plan as well as select tools, source locations, and relevant resources, intertwined should be constant value checking that questions if information found is being used and reflected in a piece of work properly? Are the author(s) of the work being appreciated and cited. Is the work created honoring those who will learn from it by passing along truthful information? To insure the student keeps value focal point, a goal then at each step of an information literacy model students must have the opportunity to reflect and make adjustments. When all educators and school library teachers maintain, not necessary the same nuts and bolts of researching but the ethical and aesthetic value expected when engaged in information behavior, there is potential to change a community.
A community that intertwines value into its information behaviors develop students and educators who think of themselves as researchers who value the contributions of others; as authors who write in a clear organized manner using and citing the authoritative and the most relevant information; as publishers, who are confident the information selected is credible before it is submitted; and as educators, whose work presented to peers is truthful. When a community of people assimilate into each of these roles, only then will value intertwined into information literacy change information behaviors and potentially transform a community learners.