The State of the Field of Critical Information Literacy in Higher Education

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The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the state of critical information literacy (CIL) in higher education as it is enacted and understood by academic librarians. This qualitative study investigated the institutional support, nonsupport, and barriers to CIL programs and the effectiveness of experiential critical pedagogy for information literacy (IL) learning as taught and studied by 19 CIL specialists. Purposeful sampling was used to gather a sample of 17 academic librarians and two professors of library and information science who had previously worked as academic librarians. The sample included 11 females and eight males; 18 participants were Caucasian and ... continued below

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vii, 249 p. : illustrations

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Downey, Annie L. August 2014.

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  • Downey, Annie L.

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Description

The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the state of critical information literacy (CIL) in higher education as it is enacted and understood by academic librarians. This qualitative study investigated the institutional support, nonsupport, and barriers to CIL programs and the effectiveness of experiential critical pedagogy for information literacy (IL) learning as taught and studied by 19 CIL specialists. Purposeful sampling was used to gather a sample of 17 academic librarians and two professors of library and information science who had previously worked as academic librarians. The sample included 11 females and eight males; 18 participants were Caucasian and one was African American. Data were collected through 40-60 minute semi-structured interviews and a brief demographic survey. Experiential education served as the broad theoretical framework for this study, which stems from the tradition of critical theory. This study was guided by the work of two major experiential learning theorists and theories: Paulo Freire and critical pedagogy and Jack Mezirow and transformative learning. Mezirow and Freire focused their work on adult education and grounded their approaches in critical theory and focused on power relationships, reflection, and the emancipatory potential of education. The findings were framed through a lens of Freire’s conception of critical pedagogy because it was the major theoretical framework that most of the study participants used to guide their work. Findings suggest that academic librarians who teach CIL do not learn about it in their MLS programs. They tend to use three major critical teaching methods, including student-centered approaches, discussion and dialogue, and problem-posing methods. Participants tended to struggle more with using critical methods than with incorporating critical content. Slightly more than half regularly used critical methods in their teaching, but all participants incorporated critical content, including critical source evaluation and subject headings and language used in information production and dissemination. The findings also suggest that CIL specialists are likely to believe that CIL is best taught within the broader context of academic disciplines and that strong relationships with faculty are crucial for successfully implementing information literacy programs of any kind, including CIL programs. Most participants felt supported by their library administrators and at least minimally by college or university administrators, even though they thought administrators did not have a clear idea of what they do in the classroom. The professional identity and culture of librarians and librarianship played a large role in whether and how librarians were drawn to CIL and in their ability to practice it. The results of this study will allow librarians and educators to make more informed decisions about how to design, teach, and implement programs and will benefit library science scholars and policy makers in terms of knowing how it is being taught and supported at the institutional level.

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vii, 249 p. : illustrations

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  • August 2014

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  • Feb. 2, 2016, 1:35 p.m.

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  • Jan. 24, 2017, 12:58 p.m.

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Citations, Rights, Re-Use

Downey, Annie L. The State of the Field of Critical Information Literacy in Higher Education, dissertation, August 2014; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc799537/: accessed April 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .