The State of the Field of Critical Information Literacy in Higher Education Page: 2
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Downey, Annie L. The State of the Field of Critical Information Literacy in Higher
Education. Doctor of Philosophy (Higher Education), August 2014, 249 pp., 8 tables, 3 figures,
references, 151 titles.
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-
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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/m1/2/: accessed November 12, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .