The Big6 Graduates – On To College!
Author: Ru Story-Huffman
Information literacy is alive and well in higher education. Academic faculty—including librarians—are exhibiting an increased awareness of the information literacy movement and its importance. Numerous books, journal articles, conference programs and grassroots movements are in place to spread the information literacy concept through college and university campuses. Academic administrators, teaching faculty and librarians are working to extend the information literacy skills that are currently being taught in numerous elementary and secondary schools in our country. The Big6™, as one of the premier information literacy models, is a natural tool for use in higher education as well as in K-12 settings.
Information Literacy Organizations
Two key organizations are deeply involved with developing understandings and promoting information literacy in higher eduction: the Association of College and Research Libraries and the National Forum on Information Literacy.
When preparing for an accreditation review, a college participates in numerous activities, including self-studies, committee work and the actual accreditation visit. The academic library and librarians are usually heavily involved in the accreditation process for the campus as a whole and most especially in the presentation and evaluation of information literacy criteria. Successful implementation of the criteria required for information literacy will aid in the overall accreditation process.
Information Literacy in Higher Education
Many models of teaching information literacy in higher education have been adopted and are used. “Bibliographic instruction” or “library instruction” are two terms that are used in the academic library world to indicate instruction of the location, use, and evaluation of information and library resources. Often each freshman student is required to attend some type of library instruction session. Sometimes this will be basic information about how to use library databases, location of materials in the library and library policy for use of books and journals. Some colleges and universities envision their libraries as “teaching libraries.” That is, these institutions accept that one of the primary goals of the library is to instruct students in obtaining the necessary skills to accomplish information literacy goals. Colleges will often have a selected set of courses that are taken which may include such concepts as identifying information, defining research needs, formulating search strategies, selecting appropriate information tools, evaluating the quality of information, and organizing information. At many colleges and universities students must take a course and demonstrate a mastery of information literacy skills in order to meet graduation requirements.
A move is afoot to collaborate with the faculty to incorporate information literacy initiatives into existing curriculum and everyday instruction. This pedagogical activity may include team teaching of the course in which information literacy skills are a vital aspect of the research and learning process. With student-centered learning, problem-solving skills are utilized and fostered. Working with other faculty, academic librarians can be at the forefront of the movement to instill the skills to successfully find, evaluate, use, and synthesize information.
The Big6™ in Higher Education
One of the goals of the information literacy movement, and college in general, is to develop lifelong learners who will go into the world, establish themselves in their chosen careers, and prosper emotionally, personally, and professionally. The attributes of successful lifelong learners include critical thinking, reasoning, logic and independent learning. In developing these attributes, many college professors go beyond the “traditional” classroom to present their students with real-life situations. In addition, students are often required to complete a field experience in their major concentration of study as a requirement for graduation. Having the ability to investigate, evaluate, synthesize and use information adds to the potential success of college graduates.
Working with faculty to incorporate information literacy into everyday lectures, assignments and research activities is a natural extension of the Big6 in an academic setting. This also expands the scope of instruction beyond the traditional resource-based approach of bibliographic or library instruction to the full information problem-solving process. Librarians are becoming more pro-active, taking the responsibility to plan and conduct faculty workshops to instruct and facilitate information literacy on campus. A librarian can use the Big6 model as a method for instructing faculty, who can then incorporate the Big6 into their coursework. In addition, the Big6 is designed so that each separate stage can be broken into numerous components for instruction purposes. The Big6 serves as a model for leading faculty down the information literacy highway by providing the instructor with the steps necessary for successful implementation.
Selected Examples of the Big6™ in Action in Higher Education
Though many are still not aware of it, information literacy is a vital component of our everyday lives. Without the ability to seek information, we may be at a loss in simple situations. Decision-making can become easier, problems and solutions may become more apparent and the ability to understand, use, and locate information will be more important each day. In our world, information is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. As we educate our young students to enter the world of work, and the world in general, we need to provide them with the skills to successfully use information. As educators, we are charged with the development of critical thinking, information seeking skills and lifelong learning. College should be the time when students are exposed to the world beyond what they have already experienced, and this includes the information that is available at every turn we take. Understanding the necessary components to develop and deliver a successful information literacy experience is a vital aspect of the work being done by librarians and other faculty.
Designed as a model to teach information and technology skills in the K-12 environment, the Big6™ has proven to be adaptable, innovative and useful in a variety of educational situations. In higher education, the Big6™ can be a natural and vital component of a successful college experience. It allows all involved in the information seeking process; students, librarians and teaching faculty, to fully experience the wonders of information.
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Information Literacy with the Big6™: Cumberland College
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Information Literacy Organizations: A Selected Webliography and Bibliography
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Ru Story-Huffman holds a Master of Library Science degree and currently serves as Public Services Librarian at the Hagan Memorial Library, Cumberland College, Williamsburg, KY. She has previously worked in public, school and special libraries, and as a consultant and adjunct instructor in children”s literature. Ru is the author of 3 books published by Highsmith Press and contributes to a variety of professional and educational journals.
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