Visiting LSE – part 1

students at LSE library

Students at LSE library

Once in a while, particularly if one is feeling a little disengaged or just in need of a fresh idea for work, it`s a great idea to go on a study trip. Of course, it is not always easy to get funding etc., but I was really lucky and got some funds from a project that I have been involved with (thanks!). And what better place to go than the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)? I have wanted to go for years, ever since I had it recommended on twitter, and I was really glad that Dr Jane Secker, a copyright and digital literacy adviser whos work I have been following for a while, was willing and able to arrange things for me there!

I was particularly interested in Jane`s work on “A new curriculum for information literacy”, known as ANCIL, and the LSE course “MY592: Workshops on information literacy” (for PhD students), but I also wanted to see the LSE library and hear more about their general teaching programs.

ANCIL is a research fellowship in two-phases. The first phase was conducted by Jane Secker (LSE) and Emma Coonan (Cambridge University Library). Emma wrote a report about the theory on teaching information literacy (IL) while Jane looked at what they should teach (in IL) and how. They read much, talked to experts and practitioners, and they found that, although teachers were interested in IL, they had a very narrow understanding of the term and they didn`t know what role the librarians could play in teaching information skills. What Emma and Jane did was new, and the research led to “A new curriculum on information literacy”. Two fellows, Helen Webster and Katy Wrathall at Cambridge, followed up on this with a second phase, looking at strategies to implement this new curriculum at several higher education institutions in the UK. This second phase was about trying to put the Jane and Emmas work into life. Wrathall and Webster worked at this from two different angles. Webster took the bottom-up approach, looking at how tutors could convey this to undergraduate students, while Wrathall took a top-down approach, finding out how the new curriculum could be implemented in the institution`s strategies.

Maria Bell, academic support librarian with responsibility for the IL teacing programs at LSE, did a survey on how IL was taught at LSE. She found that it varied greatly from department to department, and that many of the programs at LSE have few (or no) requirements as to writing academic essays etc. that would require the students to have information skills. Many of the programs only have (or at least only grade) traditional school exams.

A new report called “Undergraduate support at LSE: the ANCIL report” has just been published. The report looks at how the new curriculum is being implemented at LSE, the need for undergraduate support and how this is being delivered, and the roles of the academic support librarians. I read through this report briefly, and I found it very interesting. Some of the problems mentioned in the report seems universal. I`ll have another look at the report next. week.

… more about my visit in part 2 (to come)..


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