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Microsoft Word - FORSGREN.docConcordia University Saint Paul, Minnesota
This thesis for the Master of Arts in Organizational Management degree
HSV 422 and the ACRL Information Literacy Standards
Laurel Forsgren
has been approved by a committee composed of the following members:
____________________________ (Name), Chair ____________________________ (Name), Reader ____________________________ (Date)
I would have never been able to undertake this journey without support from the
Thank you to my Concordia family. You have inspired me to pursue this degree, and
supported me while I was doing it. I am blessed to be surrounded by such enlightened,
caring individuals.
Thank you to my friends. I have missed many social functions and been preoccupied with
studies for quite some time now. I appreciate your patience and encouragement.
Thank you to my fellow cohort members. You introduced me to more perspectives than I
could have imagined. I will truly miss our weekly interactions.
Thank you to my instructors who challenged me to stretch my thinking, motivated me,
and helped me to achieve a goal I am very proud to have accomplished.
And, special thanks to my husband, Rick. We entered this program together as partners,
and I have truly enjoyed learning and growing with you. I believe we can look forward to
a long life of shared learning.
It is predicted that by the year 2020, the body of existing knowledge will double every 73
days. In order to address the societal challenge of the escalating quantity and unclear
quality of information, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) issued
the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. The competencies
consist of five standards and twenty-two performance indicators, which provide a
framework for assessing the information literate individual.
In the 2001-02 Executive Summary of Student Learning and Development, Urban
University (UU) noted,
“Although learning outcomes such as information literacy and technology competency may be addressed in individual courses or programs, they have not been intentionally assessed across colleges, departments, or courses” (Luebke, 2002). This study intentionally assesses whether the UU course, “HSV 422 Information
Literacy”, meets the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher
Education and adequately prepares learners for the current and future information society.
“Accessing Educational Resources” is a foundational course in selected graduate
programs at UU; however, this course was not offered at the undergraduate level for
human services online programs. Undergraduate alumni entered the graduate program
and expressed that this course would have been helpful to them during their bachelor’s
degree. The rationale for the course at the BA level was quickly substantiated, as many
adult learners expressed concern regarding their “knowledge navigation” skills and
ensuing “information overload”, both professionally and academically.
Consequently, the course, “HSV 422 Information Literacy” was designed by the
author (Appendix A). The course was based loosely upon the existing graduate-level
course and the definition of information literacy set forth by the American Library
Association (ALA). The course continues as a requirement in the criminal justice degree
completion curriculum.
A recent UU report indicated the need for assessment of information literacy-
specific courses, which inspired the author to conduct a comprehensive review of the
literature and to examine the following:
Does HSV 422 address the ACRL information literacy standards? Is a stand-alone
course effective?
What improvements can be made to the current course?
Can a recommendation be made to include HSV 422 in other adult degree
completion programs?
There are differing views regarding whether information literacy should be a
stand-alone course, integrated into existing curriculum, or both. The author believes adult
learners benefit from a specific course addressing personal bias’ about information,
information navigation, evaluation, and synthesis—information literacy. Information
literacy is not only an academic necessity, but is an expertise essential for survival in the
workplace of the information age. It is not a mere skill set, but a reflective process
involving the examination of one’s assumptions about a given topic, resources available,
and the responsible usage of those resources. As the volume of information continues to
increase exponentially, the information literates will be better prepared to navigate data
and develop wisdom to better inform their decision-making ventures.
The author will examine the available literature regarding information literacy,
and will assess the HSV 422 course based upon the ACRL standards (Appendix B).
Recommendations for course improvements and possible college-wide adoption will be
Chapter Two A review of the literature will examine the evolution of information literacy and
the implications for higher education.
Information Literacy and the Information Explosion
The concept of information literacy (IL) emerged in 1974 when Paul Zurkowski
submitted a proposal to the National Commission on Libraries and Information Sciences.
Zurkowski’s characterizations of information literates were, “People trained in the
application of information resources” (p. 6). Over the past twenty years, technology has
evolved, and the amount of available information resources has increased exponentially.
In the 1970 book, Future Shock, Alvin Toffler invented the phrase “Information
Overload” (p. 350) and examined how cognitive over stimulation interferes with our
ability to make decisions effectively. In 1989, Saul Wurman examined the phenomenon
of “Information Anxiety.” He claimed that the weekday edition of The New York Times
contained more information than the average person in 17th-century England was likely
to come across in a lifetime. He believed that information anxiety was a product of the
ever-widening gap between what we understand and what we think we should
understand, and would occur when information does not accurately explain what we want
or need to know (Bruce, 2002).
Adding to the list of related vocabulary, Fortune described the unending
information deluge, combined with the anxiety produced by the disparity between
existing data and knowledge as an “Infobog” (Tetzeli, 1994). Overloaded with
information, individuals have suffered from a condition identified by British psychologist
Dr. David Lewis, called “information fatigue syndrome”. Ida Silva (cited in Bundy,
1997) stated, “We are awash with information…we are surrounded prodded, consumed
and overwhelmed by it…we are in the midst of an information explosion. And, as in the
nature with explosions, the casualties are mounting up.”
In the keynote address at the Eastern Michigan University Presidential
Inauguration in 2000, Dr. James B Appleberry noted:
Several years ago, it was said that the information available to mankind doubled
every five years, and that by the year 2000, 97% of the information available to
mankind would have been invented or discovered during the lifetime of those
living today. About five years ago, one of our leaders in Washington said that by
the year 2020, information available to mankind would double every 73 days.
More conservative estimates assess that knowledge doubles every three years (Gregorian,
In addition to growth and accessibility issues, the accuracy of information has
come under scrutiny as “infobubbles” (homogenized and filtered information from one
organization) have emerged, clouding the decision-making process (Burns, 2002).
As the volume and quality of information continues to transform, the required
information retrieval and evaluation skills have changed. “Information literacy” has
surpassed a specific skill-set, and emerged as a vital discipline. This review of the
Definitions Today, definitions of information literacy have surfaced from the traditional realm
of libraries into business, higher education, and government. Zurkowski’s 1974
description has evolved over the years, both inside and outside the field of library
science. In 1989, the ALA defined IL as specific skill sets:
• Recognize a need for information
• Identify information needed to address a given problem or issue
• Find needed information and evaluating the information
• Organize the information
• Use the information effectively to address the problem or issue at hand (ALA
Christina Doyle elaborated further on the definition in 1992, adding the following:
• Develops successful search strategies
• Use information in critical thinking and problem solving
Patricia Breivik’s definition builds upon the aforementioned, incorporating the following
• Test the validity of information as it remains constant and as it changes from
discipline to discipline
• Place information into various contexts that will ultimately yield its pertinent
truth. (1998).
These definitions reflect a progression from a skill-based competency to a deeper,
critical thinking paradigm.
Information Literacy Reports American Library Association
The foundational event in the development of IL theory was the establishment of the
ALA Presidential Committee on Information Literacy in 1987. The committee’s purpose
was to:
1. To define information literacy within the higher literacies and its importance
to student performance, lifelong learning, and active citizenship;
2. To design one or more models for information literacy development
appropriate to formal and informal learning environments throughout people's
lifetimes; and
3. To determine implications for the continuing education and development of
teachers (ALA, 1989).
The committee drafted a report, which provided the definition of information
literacy, and emphasized IL as a skill beyond the jurisdiction of library science—IL was a
necessary competence for life, the business world, and democracy (Spitzer, Eisenberg, &
Lowe, 1998).
National Forum on Information Literacy
The National Forum on Information Literacy emerged in 1990 as a response to
the recommendations of the ALA’s Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. This
coalition of over 65 national organizations from business, government and education was
formed to promote the concept of IL as an imperative for the information age. (Spitzer et
al., 1998). IL skills reach farther than mere “technical skills”, as noted in a 1998 progress
report. Chair Patricia Senn Breivik summarized the coalition’s activities, progress, and
offered recommendations for the challenges yet to be met, including:
Forum members--after monitoring America's progress in addressing the issues
raised in the Report of the Information Age--believe that there needs to be a
national re-evaluation of the seemingly exclusive emphasis on and enormous
investments in computers and networks. They believe that the technology alone
will never allow America to reach the potential inherent in the Information Age in
not only its schools but also in its businesses. In fact, they believe that the dreams
of a new and better tomorrow will only begin to be realized when all young
people graduate into the workforce with strong information literacy skills.
(Breivik, 1998).
American Association of School Libraries
Soon to follow, the American Association of School Libraries (AASL) published
a position statement advocating the importance of information literacy skills based upon a
publication developed by Wisconsin Educational Media Association (Spitzer, et al.). This
position statement focused on resource based learning and acknowledged that to be
prepared for an information-based society, students must learn to think rationally,
creatively solve problems, manage and retrieve information, and communicate
effectively—become information literate. The Information Literacy Standards for
Student Learning (Appendix 2) consists of three categories (information literacy,
independent learning, social responsibility), nine standards, and 29 indicators to describe
the criteria students need to demonstrate to be information literate. (ALA, 1998).
Commission on Higher Education
Up to this point, the focus on IL was primarily in the K-12 environment. In 1994,
the Commission on Higher Education (CHE) became a member of the NFIL and
developed the following accreditation standard on information literacy in 1994:
Each institution should foster optimal use of its learning resources through
strategies designed to help students develop information literacy—the ability to
locate, evaluate and use information in order to become independent learners. It
should encourage the use of a wide range of non-classroom resources for teaching
and learning. It is essential to have an active and continuing program of library
orientation and instruction in accessing information, developed collaboratively
and supported actively by faculty, librarians, academic deans, and other
information providers. (Spitzer, et al.).
According to the 2003 CHE/MSA accreditation handbook, Information literacy remains a
Information literacy is vital to all disciplines and to effective teaching and
learning in any institution. Institutions of higher education need to provide
students and instructors with the knowledge, skills, and tools to obtain
information in many formats and media in order to identify, retrieve, and apply
relevant and valid knowledge and information resources to their study, teaching,
or research.
Other accreditation agencies in higher education are incorporating IL as criteria
for accreditation. The Western Association of Schools (WASC) and the Southern
Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) were reported as key accrediting agencies
concerned with information literacy in the ACRL Information Literacy Standards for
Higher Education. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of
Colleges and schools includes IL training requirements in the 2003 Restructured
Expectations: A Transitional Workbook.
In a 2002 literature review, Hannalore Rader noted that more than 5000
publications related to library user instruction and information literacy have been
published and reviewed in the past 30 years (p. 242). Most of the literature reviewed
addressed information literacy in higher education. Rader indicated that evaluation of
information literacy outcomes was minimal, although improvements have been made in
the past decade to research the implementation of information literacy programs.
Information Literacy Research
The focus of most information literacy research has been conducted in the K-12
and library environment; however, current research has emerged beyond the educational
sector, into the workplace and community. While early reports focused on IL definitions
and skills, IL research examines relationships between library skills and student success
(Bruce, 2000), phenomenology (Spitzer, et al.), workplace performance and learning
organizations (Goad, 2002).
In the 1980’s, Carol Kuhlthau’s research established the relationship between
library skills and student information success. She conducted 5 studies, consisting of
various qualitative methods on high school seniors, including a longitudinal study five
years later. Patterns emerged from the study, and Kuhlthau developed a seven-stage
Information Seeking model, The Process of Learning From Information (figure 1)
Drawing from Kuhlthau’s model, Eisenberg and Berkowitz developed the Big6
Skills for Information Problem Solving Model in 1988. Although their model was
developed mainly through experience and reflection, the researchers conducted
interviews to assess problem-solving behavior, and found that many people used the Big6
strategy naturally. The Big6 model consists of the following:
1. Task Definition
Delphi Study
In 1994, the NFIL commissioned the Delphi Study that further developed the
definition of information literacy. The research design was a Delphi technique, which is
an approach that requires several rounds of communication among participants to reach a
consensus (Doyle, 1996). Christina Doyle organized a diverse panel of experts, who
came to an agreement regarding common attributes of an information literate person and
characteristics of learners in general. The study identified a need to shift the emphasis
analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of information.
Seven Faces of IL
In 1997, IL research progressed from K-12 to higher education, as Christine
Bruce, an Australian researcher, focused on conceptions of information literacy in higher
education. As one of the first IL studies in higher education, Bruce laid the foundation for
further research and inquiry by universities worldwide. In a phenomenographic study,
Bruce surveyed higher educators regarding perceptions of their own information literacy,
and found seven similar trends from the study. These seven “faces” are as follows:
Category one: The information technology conception: Information literacy is
seen as using information technology for information retrieval and
seen as finding information located in information sources.
Category three: The information process conception: Information literacy is
seen as executing a process.
Category four: The information control conception: Information literacy is
seen as controlling information.
Category five: The knowledge construction conception: Information literacy is
seen as building up a personal knowledge base in a new area of interest.
Category six: The knowledge extension conception: Information literacy is
seen as working with knowledge and personal perspectives adopted in such a
way that novel insights are gained.
Category seven: The wisdom conception: Information literacy is seen as using
information wisely for the benefit of others (Bruce, 1997).
During the 1990’s, the Secretary’s’ Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills
(SCANS) was formed by Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole. The goal of the 1991
SCANS report was to offer suggestions for educators and students to address the
challenges required for success in modern work context. (SCANS, 1991). The report
concluded that information literacy was one of the five essential job competencies for job
performance. These findings bridged the gap between IL in the school and workplace,
and opened a dialog between employers and educators. Although the commission
completed its work in 1992, its findings and recommendations continue to be a beneficial
resource for educators and organizations. Today, the SCANS portion of the U.S.
Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration website provides updated
information for individuals and organizations involved in education and workforce
IL in the workplace
The SCANS report has inspired other studies related to IL skills in the workplace.
According to Julie Oman, an Outsell study discovered that employees spend an average
of 9.5 hours a week obtaining, reviewing and analyzing information. In 1997 it was
reported that “20 percent of all jobs will be unfilled unless many of today’s workers are
retrained to be knowledge workers…whose main value to their employers is to gather,
analyze, and disseminate information in such knowledge based industries as computers,
medical care, communications and instrumentation” (Penton Publishing Inc. 1997).
Oman believes the skills taught in today’s K-12 or higher education arenas do not
adequately prepare workers for the lifelong learning requirements associated with
constant technological and information changes.
Information Literacy in Higher Education
In 2000, The ACRL developed the “Information Literacy Competency Standards
for Higher Education”. The American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) has
endorsed these standards (Ragains, 2001). Currently, one cannot assume that college
students have any entry-level information literacy related competencies, as statewide
educational standards for K-12 were not put into place until the late 1990’s or 2000.
(Ragains, 2001). The ACRL recognized the importance of IL in the contemporary
environment of rapid technological change and proliferating information resources, and
identified IL as the basis for lifelong learning, common to all disciplines (ACRL, 2000).
These standards, along with 22 performance indicators help to bridge the gap between
information literacy, education, and the work force. The standards set by the ACRL
provide a framework for assessing the information literate individual and extends the
work of the ALA’s K-12 studies into the realm of higher education. These guidelines do
not attempt to define IL, but rather identify best practices of IL programming through
assessment of various programs (ALA, 2003). The standards are as follows:
1. The information literate student determines the nature and extent of the
information needed.
and efficiently.
3. The information literate student evaluates information and its sources
critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge
base and value system.
4. The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group,
uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
5. The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal
and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses
information ethically and legally (Appendix 2).
Each standard incorporates different levels of performance indicators associated
with each outcome based upon Bloom’s Taxonomy of “higher order” and “lower order”
thinking skills. (ACRL, 2000). The report emphasized that in order to implement the
standards fully, an institution should “first review its mission and education goals and
determine how information literacy would improve learning and enhance the institution’s
effectiveness”. Today, the ACRL's "Institute for Information Literacy" has initiated a
best practices project to articulate the criteria that describe successful information literacy
programs and identify exemplary models (Dupuis, 2001).
In light of the existing research and reports, many institutions of higher education
have implemented successful information literacy programs. One of the most
comprehensive IL programs was developed at the University of Texas at Austin (UT).
The goals were ambitious: To ensure that first-year students grasped basic research

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