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

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 ...
Date: August 2014
Creator: Downey, Annie L.
Partner: UNT Libraries