LILAC18: day 2, part 1

[This is blog post #3 from LILAC18. See previous posts here and here]

Ola Pilerot: Putting theory to work in practice: unpacking information literacy with a conceptual toolbox from library and information science

Day 2 started with a keynote by Ola Pilerot. I was looking forward to this keynote, as Pilerot´s work is known to me. I have read much of his work and I think he has made many interesting contributions to discussions in our field.

Watch the keynote here:

Although Pilerot was somewhat less clear in his keynote than in his articles (not very remarkable), I thought he gave a good presentation and I was reminded why I like his work. The main idea was that we should make an effort to see the relationship between theory and practice in the field of information literacy (IL), and that we have much to gain from trying to promote understanding between the different actors within the field. If the researchers understand librarians, students.. and vice versa we could teach and learn better.

There are many ways to understand IL, Pilerot said. It can be understood as a field of research for librarians, as a political goal or motive, or something that can be observed – or as an analytical field. Therefore, we should be careful with a normative approach to IL, meaning that we either implicitly or explicitly express that there is a right way and a wrong way to be information literate.

Pilerot presented several interesting theoretical models of IL. Wilson (1999)´s model on information searching, information seeking and information behaviour was dwelt on. Kulthau´s model for the Information Search Process included the students´ emotional behaviour during each phase, and that was something new when it first was published. However, this model is linear, and most information searching is not. Forster´s model is non-linear, but difficult to understand, and Bates´ model from 2002 is interesting as it shows IL as portrays the different approaches as directed/undirected and active/passive.

I have used several of these models, but the last one he talked about is perhaps the one I have used the most, namely Sundin´s approaches to teaching IL.


Sundin´s model: Approaches to teaching for information literacy.


It is very interesting, and I recommend reading the entire article.

Pilerot did a comparative study* between nursing students and engineering students. The nursing students cited much more literature and used “better” sources than the engineering students. Pilerot had a look at the culture behind these disciplines, what research questions they asked etc. The students practically had their own communities of practice within their own disciplines. The engineering students did not lack information literacy, but they adapted themselves to expectations within the field. It is important to remember that IL shows itself in different contexts.

*[Pilerot, O. (in press) Swedish university students´ information literacy: a comparison of two academic disciplines]

Amanda Folk: Drawing on identity and prior knowledge to join the conversation in research assignments

Folk has found the “Scholarship is a conversation” frame of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education particularly useful for students. Not only does it emphasise and make clearer what the students are expected to do in research assignments, but it helps them understand the other frames in the framework. In this session we talked about what the Scholarship is a conversation frame can mean and how we can use it. Many good ideas on teaching about content in this frame were mentioned by attendees.

One attendee said that she used this frame to talk about referencing, and how the students should think of their work as a part of a greater discussion. One attendee said that she focussed on how something being published does not have to mean that students have to agree, and she used this as a point for discussion. One said that she usually starts by saying to students that before there were journals, researchers wrote letters to each other, and this was the main idea behind the journal publications. One attendee said that he usually talks to students about writing as a piece of a large puzzle. We need each others pieces to complete the image.

Folk continued to say that talking about social class and capital is still somewhat taboo in the US, so it has not been discussed much. What kind of cultural and social capital (Bourdieu) a student has is important for how they react in different situations. FOlk therefore made a point about it being important to know what kind of background our students have to be able to organise our materials and teaching. Academic alienation is a real thing, and we have to talk about it. The ACRL Framework gives us some new opportunities, Folk said, and we should practice it for these students. The Scholarship is conversation frame is a good entry level, and we have to get the students to understand that they are part of the discussion. 

Folk is doing her PhD on hermeneutic phenomenology – she is trying to understand how it feels to receive and perform a research assignment [and this made me think of Project Information Literacy and Alison Head].

Folk did qualitative interviews with students. Some showed intrinsic motivations and others had a need to understand themselves and their own situations to take active standpoints and transfer their knowledge. Minority students often have a higher socio-political awareness than their majority counterparts, and they have given more thought to what their cultural, political or religious means in their society. It is important for us to make them understand that this background and their knowledge about this can be used in the academic discussions.

We all have funds of knowledge, Folk said.

This was a good session, and I think we all left the lecture theatre wanting to understand more and to look into more of the ACRL Framework with this background.


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