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Home - Library - Research Help - Information Literacy - Title III IL Progress Report

Technical Instructors, Students and the Big6:
A Title III Information Literacy Progress Report

Lurleen B. Wallace Community College
March 2009

Introduction
The intent of this progress report is two-fold: one purpose is to let college administrators, instructors and students know what has been completed thus far and what remains to be completed. The other intent of the report is to summarize the project for broader educational groups within the state or nation. At the time of this writing, the information literacy project is at the middle point of the pilot year.
 

Background
Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, located in south Alabama, has a total enrollment of 1600 students with the MacArthur campus in Opp serving most of the technical students. The MacArthur Campus has one full-time librarian. During fall 2003, the new librarian on the MacArthur Campus (technical) met with the Dean of Instruction to discuss library activities that could be included in a Title III grant. The conclusion: Include a project related to computer and information literacy. By the time that the grant was awarded in 2005, the campus had already developed ways to teach computer literacy so information literacy became the project. Having studied information literacy for many years, the librarian chose the Big6, which is a model for information problem solving using critical thinking skills. The Big6, a process model of how people of all ages solve an information problem, was developed by Michael B. Eisenberg and Robert E. Berkowitz. For more information about the Big6, see the website http://www.big6.com.

In year three of the grant, planning peaked and the pilot project launched in year four (October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009). The Title III staff met as a group with possible participants while the librarian met one-on-one with technical instructors during the summers of 2007 and 2008. Instructors seemed receptive to the idea of their students participating and to the librarian preparing student worksheets. Examples of the types of assignments, student worksheets, teacher keys and grading matrixes are available on the Lurleen B. Wallace Community College libraries website under the subheading Technical Program Assignments: http://www.lbwcc.edu/library/research_help/information_literacy.aspx.

The basic objectives of the project were more attitudinal than task oriented. Students tend to feel that some library assignments are just busy work. Therefore, it is important that the instructor and librarian collaborate and coordinate ahead of time so that students begin the information process with a positive attitude. Students are likely to use those resources most quickly available to them whether googling, copying & pasting or borrowing. By using the Big6, students hopefully would develop a sense of pride and confidence in how to use resources. Students and instructors alike are not always appreciative of the wealth of information available from the Alabama Virtual Library (AVL) and other library-provided resources. The world of information is intimidating to all of us at times. Therefore, an attitudinal objective was to have students and instructors more comfortable with finding information than they were before the information literacy endeavor. Last but not least, some technical instructors and students may see a library assignment as a research paper geared for academic students. However, problem-solving assignments work well with the Big6 and problem solving is required from all of us each day in personal and work environments and definitely in technical fields.

Summary of Progress
An Information Literacy Resource Handbook was developed by the librarian for instructors. It contained definitions of the Big6, information literacy standards, as well as other toolkit-type documents related to working in groups, creating portfolios, resource-based assignments, using questioning, etc. Title III staff provided copies for the instructors. Even though the copies were made for fall semester, miscommunication resulted in the handbooks becoming available later at the beginning of spring semester. However, during fall, one new instructor who had not previously taught specifically asked for the handbook and used it! As long-standing library instruction expert Evan Farber indicated years ago, new faculty are more receptive to library collaboration than entrenched ones.

It was important for instructors and students to understand that what assignment or project is not as important as how to gain the necessary information for the assignment or project. To teach the method for finding information, the librarian created student worksheets based on the Big6 after consulting individual instructors. For fall semester, worksheets were ready for students in air conditioning & refrigeration, automotive, diesel, cosmetology, computer and office. Some instructors used existing assignments.

The librarian met with two sections of nursing: Maternal & Child and Role Transition for the Practical Nurse. The library provided students with folders containing a copy of the Colleges Student Code of Conduct which covers plagiarizing; examples of APA citations and paper; KnightCite information for creating free APA citations; Big6 Steps; an Alabama Virtual Library database list; medicines top ten on the web; and, nursing book titles in StatRef. Generic Big6 worksheets were given out. At the end of the 1-hour session, students asked for more blank worksheets so they could use the steps in other classes.

Some classes worked through the first few steps of the Big6 while others worked through all steps. The best-case scenario was the students and instructors meeting with the librarian at a pre-assigned time with a prepared assignment. Most sessions were one to two hours. All present participated in a brain-storming session where the task was defined, keywords written on a whiteboard, resources reviewed, and methods for deciding on which resources and why were discussed . With nursing students, much of the librarians time was spent on plagiarism and APA.

After the first semester of piloting the Big6 Information Literacy project, LBWCC technical instructors met with the librarian and the Title III staff to discuss progress with the Information Literacy Project and ways to improve the project. The following five paragraphs are adapted from the minutes taken during the two-hour reporting session.
The Title III project director opened the meeting by briefly explaining the Information Literacy Project. She stated that building of information skills aids retention. She reported that most instructors already have assignments for which the Big6 could be adapted with guidance from library personnel. She noted that students will be asked to complete a brief survey at the end of the project to document success.
The librarian gave an overview of the Big6 model. She shared a ten-minute presentation entitled Information Literacy: What It Is and Who Needs it. The presentation is available on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMQvAeQOVqs. She also distributed handouts showing the six steps of the Big6. She noted studies show student retention and confidence increase with this type training. It also strengthens decision- and problem-solving skills.
The librarian commented that one group of students during fall semester was allowed to start an assignment on Choosing a Computer. The students came to the library, started googling and began answering the questions about memory size, processing speed, etc. However, they had not defined the task before they tried writing the answers. The instructor and librarian met with them for a brainstorming session. Starting with the first step in the Big6 Defining the Task, the group brainstormed. Once the students realized that they could not choose a computer until they knew who needed it, for what purpose, in what price range, etc., etc., they understood the importance of defining the task. Without the Big6 worksheet and the brainstorming, the students rushed the assignment and had to back up and restart.
It was noted that most people use the Google website when researching, limiting their sources to the first few hits. A good analogy would be someone who only listened to music on one AM radio channel but never knew what he was missing until he found out about Sirius satellite radio. The librarian explained that detection of web pages by search engines is dependent on registration and indexing so many never get to the deep web. She also demonstrated how easily misinformation can be found on the web by showing a hoax website which appeared to be authentic. Ways to verify authority were demonstrated including checking copyright and contact information.
Instructors were given the opportunity to report. The computer science instructor reported her students researched the purchase of a computer. At the end of the project they submit documentation of their work. She noted the project takes six weeks with one part of the project assigned each week. She stated she and her class visited the library when they began the project for orientation and to introduce them to library personnel. She reported she requires her students to have library personnel sign off on their information each week. The next report came from the cosmetology instructor who stated that the project has refreshed her understanding of the Alabama Virtual Library (AVL). She noted her students project was to research starting a business and reported her students gave positive comments about the project. Another report came from the air conditioning & refrigeration instructor who reported his students were assigned a project and turned in information they found. He noted the experience was very beneficial to both he and the students.
After the previously mentioned reporting, the new sonography instructor stated her students are currently working on a project, which is going well. She noted she visited the library with her students, which was beneficial for her as well. She explained her students are working in groups to research a topic they chose from a list she provided. At the conclusion of the assignment, students will give a PowerPoint presentation requiring ten slides, allowing the entire class to learn from their research. She stated sonography is a life-long learning process and this project will give students the foundation for gathering necessary information. Subsequently, the librarian demonstrated the free access to the Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography via the Alabama Virtual Library. If the AVL did not provide this title, an individual would pay the Individual Print Subscription of $146.00 (or an individual joins the professional group which publishes the journal); the Library would pay an institutional price of $584.00.
Lastly, the office administration instructor reported that the business communications students were to research those customs and attire appropriate for a meeting with Saudi businessman. Not staged or planned, the office administration students began googling for information. They showed the librarian the website that was great, in their opinion. The librarian asked the students to tell her about the author. The students scrolled down to the hyperlinked name at the end of the article. After clicking on the persons name, another window opened which showed a photograph of the female author sitting in the lap of two college-age-looking guys. The librarian then challenged the students to find out why the author would be considered an expert on Saudi customs. The students could find no information about the author having worked or gone to school in Saudi. They had stumbled upon her social network. I asked them which would impress their supervisor the most: an e-mail where they state that the U.S. Department of State advises or college girl in lap of college guys advises. THE STUDENTS GOT IT !
Near the end of the meeting, the librarian demonstrated how to find books in the college libraries and how a book can be delivered to an instructor or student upon request. In addition, the librarian demonstrated NetLibrary. She explained that NetLibrary is purchased by the college library and may be accessed from on or off-campus locations. She demonstrated how to get the citation for the book. In addition, resource handbooks for the Big6 program were distributed to instructors and a brief overview given. It was noted that the information skills learned from the project can be applied in all jobs.
The Title III project coordinator inquired about contact hours required if information literacy became a course. It was noted different schools do different things; some schools include information literacy as a component of orientation while others offer a separate one- or two-credit-hour course. Informatics, such as nursing informatics, equates to a full program. It was noted that the colleges orientation course is not required for certificate students, who are the targets of the project. One instructor stated that she felt a class would be beneficial due to the fact instructors are generally not trained in the concepts. Another attendee stated that he would like to include input from academic faculty members, noting if it were the general consensus to implement a course it must be presented to the Instructional Council and the Executive Council.
The Title III project coordinator expressed his appreciation for faculty members who have and are working with information literacy. He noted this information will continue to be important in the future and encouraged all faculty members to become familiar. He also noted instructor evaluations include an item regarding use of the library and this project fulfills that goal.
 

Problems/Limitations
Instructors teach a subject but they also should teach core skills necessary for the 21st century workplace. Along with communication skills and computer skills, information literacy skills (ILS) are one of the core proficiencies to be taught across the curriculum. However, most instructors are of the opinion that teaching these skills are extra work rather than an integral part of their work. Therefore, the projects volunteer instructors are not likely to incorporate information literacy into the classroom until they are asked to do so by the college administration. Since ILS are linked to the colleges mission statement, it would be reasonable for the administration to require that instructors include an information literacy/library component in their syllabi.
Another limitation is that the project has not been promoted or publicized fully or widely by Title III or by the College, in the opinion of the librarian.
One major adjustment was related to worksheets. After an instructor and the librarian decided on an assignment, the librarian customized worksheets and sent drafts to the instructor. The intent was the instructor would give out the worksheets, talk about the assignment and then the librarian would work with the students. However, when students came to the library, many did not seem prepared nor did they have worksheets. At that point, the librarian handed out generic worksheets and brainstormed the answers with the students.
 

Work Scheduled
The drafting instructor will be using an assignment related to architects and styles of architecture for one of his classes for the summer session. A draft of a student worksheet and a grading matrix has already been designed by the librarian and instructor for use during the summer session. The Title III staff is continuing to encourage volunteer instructors to collaborate. At the end of the project, Title III staff will be giving students written surveys for use in assessing the success of the endeavor.

Timeline

Date

Activity

Fall 2003

Librarian collaborated with grant writer about Information Literacy component to be piloted in 3rd year of grant.

Spring 2005

Grant awarded.  Librarian continues research and plans for using the Big6 model.

Fall 2006

Librarian conducts college-wide faculty professional development workshop with Big6 activity.

Summer 2007

Librarian meets one-on-one with instructors.

Fall 2007

Title III Advisory Council planning meeting.

Fall 2007

Librarian orders books and materials.

Spring 2008

Ru Story-Huffman, Georgia Southwestern State University , conducts Big6 Information Literacy workshop for technical instructors.

 

Librarian finishes Resource Manual for instructors.

Summer 2008

Librarian meets one-on-one with instructors.

 

Librarian customizes Big6 student worksheets.

Fall 2008

Pilot begins.

Spring 2009

Title III, librarian and instructors meet for feedback.

 

Pilot continues.

Summer 2009

Pilot continues.

Fall 2009

Title III surveys students/instructors for evaluation






   


 

Lurleen B. Wallace Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges or SACSCOC to award the Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, Associate in Applied Science degrees and certificates. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College.