Thursday, December 03, 2009

New Report on Information Literacy

I know this isn't really an information literacy news blog (yet?), but this seemed worth sharing: the folks over at Project Information Literacy have published a new report, "Lessons Learned: How College Students Seek Information in the Digital Age." Here's a quote from the abstract (via Resource Shelf):

A report of findings from 2,318 respondents to a survey carried out among college in six campuses distributed across the U.S. in the spring of 2009, as part of Project Information Literacy. Respondents, while curious in the beginning stages of research, employed a consistent and predictable research strategy for finding information, whether they were conducting course-related or everyday life research. Almost all of the respondents turned to the same set of tried and true information resources in the initial stages of research, regardless of their information goals. Almost all students used course readings and Google first for course-related research and Google and Wikipedia for everyday life research. Most students used library resources, especially scholarly databases for course-related research and far fewer, in comparison, used library services that required interacting with librarians. The findings suggest that students conceptualize research, especially tasks associated with seeking information, as a competency learned by rote, rather than as an opportunity to learn, develop, or expand upon an information-gathering strategy which leverages the wide range of resources available to them in the digital age.
I haven't really looked through the report enough to know what I think of their methodology, but they seem to have a tone of optimism that, frankly, surprised me. (E.g., "As a whole, our findings strongly suggest that many of todayʼs college students dial down the aperture of all the different resources that are available to them in the digital age." All?)

Worth reading! Full text pdf, 3MB

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thoughts on a Big New Project

I'm in the early stages of planning my dissertation project--which means, of course, that I'm uncertain about topic, scope, method, and everything else. But I'm also excited, so it seems only natural to share that excitement here by posting my very first draft of thoughts. Feel free to comment on anything that seems exceptionally wacky.

I see productive ground to explore between two existing projects:
  • The LILAC (Learning Information Literacy Across the Curriculum) Group studies student research habits by observing the paths they actually take when they need information for academic work. In other words, LILAC studies how students research.
  • The Citation Project studies samples of student writing to analyze how they incorporated sources into their work. In other words, the Citation Project studies how students use the works they research.
Together, these projects promise to increase our knowledge about the overlapping activities of finding and integrating sources.

I propose a project that studies students as they perform both of these tasks (finding and integrating sources), but with an added dimension: I want to study some students as they compose traditional research-based essays and other students as they compose multimodal, remix-based work. This angle will produce stories about the variety of ways that students find and integrate sources when working in different mediums and when they have very different rhetorical purposes and audiences.

In short, I picture two student situations to investigate simultaneously. Student A must decide how to tackle the research and writing of a print essay, which will be read only by classmates and her instructor, and which is expected to follow academic standards for citation as best as she understands in that setting. Student B must decide how to tackle the research and composition of a multimodal assignment that may involve using found visual, audio, and video material, and which may be posted online for wide distribution, and which is expected to follow the rhetorical conventions of noteworthy multimodal compositions.

This project uses a blend of methods, which flow from my desire to A) follow the genealogy of the LILAC Group and the Citation Project, and B) study students working in different classroom settings, with different assignments. These methods include:
  • Video Capture / Speak-Aloud Protocol: As students search for sources, I will use Camtasia or similar screen-capture software to record students' paths to find sources, recording their narration of their reasons for their choices.
  • Citation Analysis: I will then analyze the final products that students submit for class by comparing their cited sources to their finished texts. With multimodal assignments, this stage will be especially interesting and challenging, as conventions for citing different kinds of sources vary among discourse communities; therefore, I will ensure that students will have been exposed to a number of examples of multimodal compositions that cite sources in different ways (if at all).
  • Case Study / Interview: I have strong relationships at two nearby institutions: an extremely large state university, and a small liberal arts college. At this initial stage, I imagine conducting in-depth case studies of the work of six students at each school--ideally, giving me a case study sample of three students writing each kind of essay at each school, for a total of twelve students. Alternatively, depending on the willingness of individual instructors to work with me, I could follow students as they first write traditional academic essays and later write multimodal compositions in the same class, for the same instructor. These case studies will be supplemented by surveys of the students' entire classes and by interviews with the instructors.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

November is "National Information Literacy Awareness Month"

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 1, 2009
- - - - - - -

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Thanks, Janice

I'm finding that entry fascinating reading. (I'm still figuring out how to work blogs, and I haven't found out how to set thing so that I get informed when there are new postings, which means I forget to check back . . . in fact, the only reason I found this was that I was trying to get to my own test blog, posted something, and then discovered it was actually on Lilac . . . ).

This should be a comment on Janice's post, I know -- but I don't know how to delete a mistaken post, so I'm converting it.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

2009 Georgia Conference on Information Literacy

What can I say, except it was a great conference this year! I have posted some rough notes from sessions I attended at . Of course, there's no way I can do justice to the conference sessions!

I enjoyed meeting some of you face-to-face at the conference and at the LILAC Project meeting. I will be posting notes and following up via email as soon as I can pull the information together. I appreciate the good ideas and the interest. Don't forget to post your ideas here and sign up with our LILAC Wiki at to contribute/edit the documents we will be posting there as well!

More later.

Friday, June 05, 2009

LILAC Project Meeting at Georgia Conference for Information Literacy

For those of you who will be attending the 2009 Georgia Conference for Information Literacy, we are on the program!

Our meeting is scheduled for 5:30pm on Friday, September 25, 2009. I hope you will be able to attend!

In the meantime, don't forget to post here and/or to to our Wiki if you have ideas, resources, or anything else you would like to share on this important project. I hope to post more soon. I've been working on a draft for a grant proposal and, of course, drafts of IRB materials.

Hope to hear from you all soon!

Friday, May 08, 2009

We have a wiki!

I created a wiki for us at (hence the widget in my previous blog post). There isn't much there yet, but I am hoping that some (or all!) of you will take a look and help to edit the documents -- or post some of your own that might be useful for our project(s).

My sabbatical semester is at an end, but the project is not. The Georgia Conference on Information Literacy now includes a link to the Invitation to Participate in the LILAC Project on its home page, and we will have a scheduled session at the conference on Friday, September 25, where we can meet to discuss plans and, hopefully, invite other interested people to join us. If you can make it to the conference, I hope you will join us! If not, your participation in the blog and the wiki are just as important.

I will be posting a sample video of the "research aloud" protocol I plan on using to the Wiki site (as soon as "the powers that be" give me access to the streaming server). A former student of mine agreed to "pretend" to be a research participant for the video and given me permission so we/I can also use clips from it in presentations, or discuss it in journal articles, presentations, or whatever. I'll let you know when the video is available.

In the meantime, I hope that you all are winding down from classes, and I hope you have a wonderful--and productive--summer! I'll try to post more soon--and I hope YOU all will, too!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I've been playing with setting up a WIKI for us to use, and I couldn't resist trying this widget.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

LILAC Plans – Rough Ideas

Welcome to the LILAC Group! We now have a solid core to begin with. Below are some of my tentative plans. But this isn't my group; it belongs to all of us, so please post your feedback, critiques, ideas, or what-have-you, so we can move forward. I anticipate this project will grow and continue as a long-term one, with new people joining, some people "idling" when necessary or dropping out when need be, and with more work growing out of what we start here. There are plenty of opportunities: books, articles, dissertation and/or thesis projects, conference presentations, curriculum development, textbook materials, working with toolbar or software designers, grant writing, or whatever directions various participants take.

So, here are my initial ideas:

1. Sign on participants

Obviously, I have already begun to sign on a few participants, which is how you all got here. I've attached a .pdf of a flyer I developed as an Invitation to Participate. Feel free to use it—or design a better one (noone ever accused me of being artistic, you know!)—if you would like to spread the word. Right now, I am the only one with administrative rights to the blog, so just let me know if you would like to add someone as author and I'll take care of it (we can add up to 100 participants). Of course, anyone is welcome to post comments (they are reviewed, briefly, by me, just to try and avoid spam whenever possible). If someone else would like administrative rights to the blog, I'd be happy to do that as well.

Last week I visited a graduate class in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of South Florida, and in mid-April I will be meeting with some faculty in the English Department and the College of Education, as well as librarians, at Kennesaw State University. I hope to entice some of them to join us as well. Right now, travel is out of my own pocket, so while I am happy to visit local institutions, I can't afford too much travel. Luckily, we have this blog! (I love the digital age!)

As Co-coordinator of the Georgia Conference on Information Literacy, I also plan on asking the planning committee to provide meeting space and time for participants to get together at this year's conference (September 25-26, 2009, Savannah Georgia. See the Call for Proposals at ). Some of you already plan on attending; I hope more of you can join us. At any rate, I will also ask the planning committee to include the Invitation to Participate or a link to it on the Conference Web site and in the Conference program, so that others at the conference can come and hopefully join in.

2. Design study

  1. share info on IRB materials (that way, participants can use information from each other to help with their own institutional IRB forms).
  2. questionnaires/surveys (Survey monkey?)
  3. research-aloud protocols (CamStudio?)
  4. permission forms
  5. interviews w/students
  6. interviews w/faculty
  7. interviews w/librarians
  8. etc.

If you have ideas, drafts, or what-have-you, please feel free to share them!

3. Post plans for studies at our own institutions

I plan to begin with just one or two students in first-year composition classes at my institution (along with their teachers). I will

  1. Sit in with the class during any "library" instruction and/or
  2. Interview the teacher about what kinds of skills are being taught and what assignments students will be completing
  3. Administer questionnaires to students
  4. Observe student research practices and record student using "research aloud" protocols (I Plan to have students use a computer in my office with CamStudio running to capture What they actually do on screen while they talk about their choices).
  5. Review a copy of the students completed research project to see what they've actually used, how they've used it, etc.
  6. Interview student after they have completed their project
  7. Interview teacher about results (after grades are submitted post-semester)

At least, that's my plan…. Please feel free to critique or post your own plans as you develop them.

4. Review pilot study

I hope several of you will administer the pilot at your own institutions (or perhaps some of you have graduate students who will do this). Then we can review our results and see what refinements we need to make before we

5. Design/plan larger study

6. Report results

We can, of course, report as we proceed. For instance, Rebecca Moore Howard, Randall McClure, and Sandra Jamieson will be presenting at the Georgia Conference on Information Literacy (and, of course, others not yet involved will be presenting, too, so it's a good conference for those interested in this area! And Kathleen Blake Yancey is this year's keynote speaker, so it should be a great place to be).

Randall McClure, Rebecca Moore Howard, and I are also submitting a proposal for CCCC 2010 as well. I have already presented at the Georgia Conference on Information Literacy, CCCC, and Computers and Writing on the LILAC project, and I plan to continue to report on the project as it proceeds—hopefully with some of YOU.

I am also drafting an article for submission (somewhere). I plan to post my draft here to the blog for feedback. I think we could also propose an edited collection somewhere, with some of us serving as editors, and others contributing singly- or collaboratively-authored work.

Some of you have graduate students, too, who are already working in this area. I would love to hear if anyone is teaching or developing courses in teaching information literacy skills for graduate students in our field(s). At my institution, students take a sort of orientation course that supposedly includes "library instruction," then they take a two-course composition sequence, and many teachers repeat the same library instruction in these courses (and usually assign a "research paper" or "research project"). What I hope to do with this project is determine if this is working (my experience says it's not), so I hope to use the work and/or results of this study to determine what curricular/instructional changes we can or should make. So another "strand" here might be curriculum development at undergraduate and graduate levels, teacher training, librarianship, etc.

So, of course, I hope we reach across the "boundaries" of composition to include librarians, assessment experts, faculty from a wide variety of disciplines, K-12 teachers, and interested "others."

We can use the LILAC blog as a space for public conversation. We can also create a mailing list somewhere for more "private" conversation, and we can create public or private wiki-space to develop materials, or we can just email drafts between people who are working on various parts of this project together.

I'd love to hear what each of you is doing, what work you have already done, and what your plans are as we move forward.

Oh, yeah, and lest we forget, some (or all?) of us can either singly or as a group (or in small groups, or whatever) pursue various forms of grant opportunities. I know I would like funding for a research assistant, course release, printing costs (flyers, etc.), equipment costs, travel to conferences, possibly travel for LILAC participants to travel here to meet or, well, you get the idea. J

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Other Information Literacy Research

Project Information Literacy (PIL) (

This research project investigates how college students conduct research. The original pilot project was conducted at St. Mary's College in California; the research is now being conducted by the iSchool at the Univ. of Washington with support from Proquest using samples from different college campuses from across the US. The website includes publications and a "public service" YouTube video based on results.

Some of the more interesting results from this project (beyond where students find information), I think, are the findings that students struggle with understanding what college research is, what faculty expect, and that faculty (in their samples) offer little guidance to students about expectations.

Information Search Process (ISP) (

Although not specifically information literacy, Carol Kuhlthau has been doing research on student information seeking behavior for over 20 years, resulting in the development of the information search process model. The model is a holistic view of information seeking (or the research process) with affective (feelings), cognitive (thoughts), and physical (actions) attributes for each stage. Kuhlthau's research is described in her book Seeking Meaning and applied in her text Guided Inquiry. Although the initial research was focused on middle and high school students, her studies were replicated with college students and information-intensive professions.

The last stage in the ISP is presentation, which is often (traditionally) where the writing process is identified so that information seeking and writing/communication are separated. But I think James Elmborg was right in his call for the research and writing processes to be taught holistically. Kuhlthau's emphasis on seeking meaning rather than simply finding information seems to support that and gives us a way to see how the 2 processes are intertwined and perhaps are really one more holistic process.

Kuhlthau's research, I think, represent the only studies that have attempted to understand the feelings and thoughts associated with each stage of the process so that we hopefully can identify strategies to help students along. Combined with the PIL findings about students confusion about what college research is and what faculty expectations are for research, there seems to be a lot for us to still understand and work on to improve IL pedagogy.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Invitation to Participate: The LILAC Project

What Is Information Literacy?

While many teachers warn students to be wary of relying on information from online sources, perhaps, instead of steering students away from them, it's more a matter of helping students understand when and how to use such sources. At any rate, the following definition from Wikipedia is a good starting point:

Several conceptions and definitions of information literacy have become prevalent. For example, one conception defines information literacy in terms of a set of competencies that an informed citizen of an information society ought to possess to participate intelligently and actively in that society (from [1]).

The American Library Association's (ALA) Presidential Committee on Information Literacy, Final Report states, "To be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information" (1989).

Jeremy Shapiro & Shelley Hughes (1996) define information literacy as "A new liberal art that extends from knowing how to use computers and access information to critical reflection on the nature of information itself, its technical infrastructure and its social, cultural, and philosophical context and impact." (from [2])

Information literacy is becoming a more important part of K-12 education. It is also a vital part of university-level education (Association of College Research Libraries, 2007). In our information-centric world, students must develop skills early on so they are prepared for post-secondary opportunities, whether in the workplace or in pursuit of higher education. (Wikipedia)

What Is the LILAC Project?

LILAC stands for Learning Information Literacy across the Curriculum. We hope to begin with a small pilot study to determine where the "disconnects" might be between what and how we are teaching students these important skills, and what students actually do. LILAC is dedicated to finding a way to assist students (and others) to locate, evaluate, and synthesize information--whether that information is online or in print (or in some other medium)--by helping them to know

  • when information is needed,
  • what kind of information is needed,
  • where to go to locate that information,
  • how to evaluate the information,
  • how to integrate the information with other ideas
  • and finally, how to adequately cite information, ideas, words, pictures, and other borrowings.

According to results of testing of information literacy skills, whatever we are doing now to teach these essential skills to our students just is not working. Even though educators and librarians have tried a wide variety of ways to teach these skills-from lectures and tutorials, hands-on workshops, librarian-teacher partnerships, and more-students continue to fail. Even when they are able to do well on tests of skills, usually immediately following instruction, they are not able to apply these skills nor do they seem to be able to take these skills with them as they continue to progress in the university.

The LILAC project hopes to pilot a study which might include ethnographic/case studies, surveys/questionnaires, "research aloud" protocols, and more. To begin, I am looking for one or two teachers of first-year writing and librarians/media specialists at a variety of institution types to help develop the small pilot study and administer it at their own institution. Then, hopefully, we can expand the study (once we have fine-tuned it). Based on my own recent experience working in this area, it is a sought-after topic for conference presentations, journal articles, and books, and, of course, an essential one for our own classrooms.

Interested? Let's Meet!

I will be visiting select institutions in late March and through April to meet with interested people, or, if I can't make it to your institution, I'll be happy to meet with you online. For more information, visit the LILAC blog at If you are interested, please contact me at to schedule a time and place when I can come and meet with you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Call for Proposals - Georgia Conference on Information Literacy

The 6th Annual Georgia Conference on Information Literacy, September 25-26, 2009, at the Coastal Georgia Center in the heart of Savannah's historic district, invites proposals across disciplines for workshops and presentations that will consider, extend, or otherwise address information literacy in K-12 and postsecondary settings:

o EFFECTIVE MEANS of developing information literacy skills in learners.
o PARTNERSHIPS between librarians and classroom teachers to teach students research skills.
o INFORMATION LITERACY across the disciplines.
o ASSESSMENT of information literacy initiatives.
o INTELLECTUAL property, copyright, and plagiarism in the digital age.

According to the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) an "information literate individual" is able to:
o Determine the extent of information needed
o Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
o Evaluate information and its sources critically
o Incorporate selected information into one's knowledge base
o Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
o Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally


Visit our Web site at for more information or to submit a proposal, or email Bede Mitchell ( or Janice Walker ( for more information.