Information literacy at Cecil College: establishing the context

Gutierrez, Michael A.
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University of Delaware
Information literacy is an essential skill set individuals need to locate, retrieve, evaluate, and effectively use information in an effort to assemble and create new knowledge. Information literacy is recognized by accreditation agencies, professional organizations, and academic institutions as vital to higher education. Information literacy programs, led primarily by librarians, have developed at institutes of higher education to instruct students on becoming information literate. Community colleges have increased their efforts to enhance information literacy instruction for students with the goal of creating lifelong learners who will use their skills to solve problems and make informed decisions. In the end, information literacy is about developing and producing critically thinking individuals. Unlike similar community colleges in surrounding counties and states, Cecil College continues to lack an information literacy program to instruct its rapidly growing student population in the knowledge and skills needed to become information literate. This Executive Position Paper investigates the perceptions teaching faculty have regarding information literacy, as well as which skills are being taught in the classroom by teaching faculty and which are being taught by librarians. A review of scholarly literature examines the information-seeking behavior of college students at community colleges and the collaborative efforts between teaching faculty and librarians, and explores several critiques that have surfaced regarding information literacy. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected utilizing a survey instrument to examine teaching faculty's knowledge of information literacy, the methods they use to provide information literacy instruction, collaborative efforts they have had with librarians and other faculty, and their observations of students' information literacy abilities. To gather additional information, face-to-face interviews were conducted with a number of teaching faculty, librarians and administrators. Based on the data collected, six recommendations for enhancing the current information literacy program at Cecil College were developed and presented. They include the following: developing a localized definition of information literacy, formulating appropriate outcomes that tie into the institutional mission, increasing library instruction and intervention throughout the college curriculum, cultivating faculty-librarian collaborative relationships, forming learning communities, and adopting appropriate assessment tools to assess the students' information literacy skills and to evaluate their success.