The Case For Information Studies

1. The Unaddressed Need/Problem
2. A Major National Movement
3. The Gap in THECB Recommendations
4. Administrators Speak
5. Students Speak
6. Faculty Speak
7. The Solution!
8. Course Description
9. Expected Results
( an abbreviated summary | the transfer case)


A note on TERMINOLOGY: Information Studies is the course title at Palo Alto College. This area of studies is also commonly referred to as Information Literacy, Library & Information Science, and Information Competency. All refer to the study of how to find, evaluate, record, and use information. Information is defined as facts to solve a problem (Kurzweil). Dealing with, interpreting, and manipulating facts and information falls under the discipline of Library and Information Science. Dealing with and manipulating raw data falls under the discipline of Computer Science. Information technology is taught by both departments but from different perspectives.


The Unaddressed Need/Problem

Missing Student Competencies

Information literacy and critical thinking are key components for student success. Why then do so few colleges and universities include them in their curricula?

The concepts and competencies of information literacy are prerequisites for success in most academic courses. These competencies are the following:

Students fail to understand the necessity of learning information concepts and competencies because there is no required course in the subject. The assumption is that if it is not required, it is unimportant.

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Missing Student Effectiveness

According to Deese & Deese (1994), there are three major factors which define the effective student:

1. motivation
2. commitment of time
3. knowing how to study

Information Studies facilitates both the first and the last.

Missing Student Motivation

"Not being motivated is about the worst academic problem a college student can face" (Deese & Deese 1994, 11). How is this remedied? A driving motive--This is THE requirement for success--it is fundamental and indispensable (Kornhauser, 12).

How do you attain this drive? An interest in the subject being studied is a key component (Kornhauser, 13). How do you develop such interest? You "acquire information about the subject from a variety of sources. The more you know about a subject the easier it is to develop an interest in it" (Kornhauser, 13). In addition, you "actively use your new knowledge. Raise questions about the points made by the book or the instructor.. Anticipate what the next steps and the conclusions will be, and then check on these. Think and talk and write about the ideas; make them play a part in your actions" (Kornhauser, 13-14). To do the above you need to know how to find information and how to apply critical thinking to it.

Unfortunately, how to find information and how to use critical thinking in relation to what is found is not taught in most colleges. The result? A less motivated student... reduced student success and retention numbers.

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Under-Utilized Investment

The university library is a major investment, and the library is often said to be at the center of the academic community. Yet, in a typical university library only 16 percent of the students use "the varied library materials for independent study" (Risko, Alvarez, & Fairbanks 1991, 221). Half of the students using an academic library are employing it only as a study hall, using only their own textbooks (Lyle, 1963). Why don't students use the library? Studies show that they don't know how.

Widespread Student Information Illiteracy

The University of California at Berkeley did a study of information literacy on their campus and found that "some 63% of the graduates recieved poor to failing scores on the [information literacy] questions. Only 1.2% of the students scored 90% or higher in correctly answering the survey questions. The combined results closely mirrored the individual departmental results... A question-by-question review of the responses revealed that fewer than 50% of the respondents were able to properly search for library materials by subject, correctly identify citations to books and journal articles, limit online search results by language, recognize and identify key reference sources in the social sciences, or recognize and identify key electronic sources in their subject major."

A study by Sellen and Jirouch (1984) found that "college juniors and seniors performed much the same as freshmen and sophomores in their general use of the library sources" (Risko, Alvarez, & Fairbanks 1991, 223). In other words, students come to college "information illiterate," and graduate college without their illiteracy being addressed. Study after study has pointed to the large gap in the curriculum.

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Missing Student Study Competencies

"Knowing how to study is tantamount to knowing how to think, observe, concentrate, organize, and analyze information. It is the application of intelligence to the task of understanding and controlling the world about us" (Kornhauser, 10).

"Assignments that don't provide students with information about how to use the library effectively can lead to student frustration and poor performance" (Risko, Alvarez, & Fairbanks 1991, 224). Just assigning students to use the library is setting them up for failure (Barnes, 1988; Carlson & Miller, 1984; Gwin, 1978; Lyle, 1963; Morris, 1980).

Reduced Student Success and Retention

"Frustration," "poor performance." and "setting them up for failure." Not knowing how to find and use information leads to repeated student failures. Repeated student failures lead to reduced student success and retention.
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Poor Student Use of Information Technology

Although many college libraries are now spending a major portion of their budget making the Internet and other electronic resources available to students, few students use them effectively because they have not received training. In fact, many do not use them at all because they do not know they exist.

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An Information Age Without a Course on Information

One Sunday edition of the New York Times contains more information than was encountered in an entire lifetime in the 16th Century.

In one week today the average person is faced with more decisions than they would have had to make in a lifetime in the 17th Century.

Activity on the Internet is doubling every 100 days.

How are our students going to cope with the Information Age if we don't teach them about information?


A Major National Movement

Statements by Key Organizations

The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools requires that institutions seeking accreditation ". . . describe and document the strategies and activities used to provide an effective program of bibliographic instruction and information literacy."

"..information literacy is one of five essential competencies for solid job performance according to the U.S. Department of Labor Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS)" (ALA).

"In 1991, the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) adopted the following statement: "Information literacy...equips individuals to take advantage of the opportunities inherent in the global information society. Information literacy should be a part of every student's educational experience. ASCD urges schools, colleges, and universities to integrate information literacy programs into learning programs for all students" (ALA).

Institutions Which Require an IS Course to Graduate

The following institutions require a course on or competency in Information Literacy for graduation (these are the ones listed on the Web only; there are probably many more):

Institutions With an IS Course for Credit

A credit-bearing course on Information Literacy is offered at the following institutions (these are the ones listed on the Web only; there are probably many more):

Institutions Which Offer IS Courses

6. The following institutions have major Information Literacy programs or courses on the Internet. Unfortunately, most do not state if they are required or credit-bearing.

National Organizations Supporting IS

The following national organizations have pledged their support of Information Studies by joining the National Forum on Information Literacy:


The Gap in THECB Recommendations

An Inconsistency

A major budget item in all colleges and universities today is information and communication technologies--computers and networks. The Coordinating Board is strongly recommending that computer literacy be included in the core curriculum of all institutions.

Another major budget item in all colleges and universities is the library and its resources. Yet the Coordinating Board is not recommending an information literacy course. In fact, it does not even have an appropriate information literacy course listed in the common course numbering manual.

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A Missing Element

The six competencies listed below are considered central to a core curriculum by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The appended definitions are from the Coordinating Board's Web Site. An information studies course would facilitate those competencies highlighted in bold.

1. READING: Reading at the college level means the ability to analyze and interpret a variety of printed materials -- books, articles, and documents. A core curriculum should offer students the opportunity to master both general methods of analyzing printed materials and specific methods for analyzing the subject matter of individual disciplines.

2. WRITING: Competency in writing is the ability to produce clear, correct, and coherent prose adapted to purpose, occasion, and audience. Although correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation are each a sine qua non in any composition, they do not automatically ensure that the composition itself makes sense or that the writer has much of anything to say. Students need to be familiar with the writing process including how to discover a topic and how to develop and organize it, how to phrase it effectively for their audience. These abilities can be acquired only through practice and reflection.

3. SPEAKING: Competence in speaking is the ability to communicate orally in clear, coherent, and persuasive language appropriate to purpose, occasion, and audience. Developing this competency includes acquiring poise and developing control of the language through experience in making presentations to small groups, to large groups, and through the media.

4. LISTENING: Listening at the college level means the ability to analyze and interpret various forms of spoken communication.

5. CRITICAL THINKING: Critical thinking embraces methods for applying both qualitative and quantitative skills analytically and creatively to subject matter in order to evaluate arguments and to construct alternative strategies. Problem solving is one of the applications of critical thinking, used to address an identified task.

6. COMPUTER LITERACY: Computer literacy at the college level means the ability to use computer-based technology in communicating, solving problems, and acquiring information. Core-educated students should have an understanding of the limits, problems, and possibilities associated with the use of technology, and should have the tools necessary to evaluate and learn new technologies as they become available.

Information Studies strongly facilitates four of the six core competencies recommended by the Coordinating Board. How can a course that offers so much toward the Board's goals, and so much to student success and retention, not be approved by the Coordinating Board?

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A Missing Course

Notice the definition of computer literacy in number six listed above. The typical course in computer literacy does not address the use of computers to solve problems, or to acquire information, or "the limits, problems, and possibilities associated with the use of technology," or "the tools necessary to evaluate and learn new technologies as they become available."

The reason these elements of computer literacy are not addressed in computer literacy classes is that they are a part of the discipline of Library and Information Science, not Computer Science. (Take another look at the terminology note at the top of this site: Computer Science deals with data, Library and Information Science deals with information).

COURSE ELEMENTS DISCIPLINE
"the ability to use computer-based technology in communicating" Computer Science
"the ability to use computer-based technology in solving problems" Library & Information Science
"the ability to use computer-based technology in acquiring information" Library & Information Science
"the limits, problems, and possibilities associated with the use of technology" Both Disciplines, COSC and LIS
"the tools necessary to evaluate and learn new technologies as they become available" Both Disciplines, COSC and LIS

To fully address computer literacy as defined by the Coordinating Board (and the Southern Association) will require a second course in the curriculum: Information Studies taught by fully certified Library and Information Science faculty.


Administrators Speak

James Madison University in Virginia... "The JMU competency-based General Education (GENED) program requires students to meet objectives relating to information-seeking and technology skills."

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University of Wisconsin--Parkside... "Successful completion of this [information literacy] program is a requirement for graduation from the University."

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The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools requires that institutions seeking accreditation "... describe and document the strategies and activities used to provide an effective program of bibliographic instruction and information literacy."

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The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools... "An array of state university systems is incorporating information literacy competencies into curriculum requirements."

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The Teaching, Learning, and Technology Roundtable Project, previously a project of the American Association of Higher Education and now a separate non-profit organization, "identifies information literacy as a building block for constructing a meaningful institutional vision for improving teaching and learning through technology."

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"In order to instill the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of information management in undergraduate medical students, the University of Vermont College of Medicine, in 1992, implemented a four year Vertical Curriculum in Information Literacy and Applied Medical Informatics... The primary goal of the program was to insure the development of necessary information habits which would enable students to effectively identify information needs, acquire pertinent information from appropriate sources, and quality filter the information for applicability to the specific medical problem and validity of the information presented."

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"..information literacy is one of five essential competencies for solid job performance according to the U.S. Department of Labor Secretarys Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS). The SCANS report makes the case for developing high-performance skills to support an economy characterized by high skills, high wages, and full employment. A high-skill workforce is also called for in President Clinton's National Technology Policy for America."

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In 1991, the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) adopted the following statements: "Information literacy...equips individuals to take advantage of the opportunities inherent in the global information society. Information literacy should be a part of every students educational experience. ASCD urges schools, colleges, and universities to integrate information literacy programs into learning programs for all students"... ASCD is one of 60 educational associations which have formed the National Forum on Information Literacy (NFIL)."

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"To become effective information users, students must have frequent opportunities to handle all kinds of information. Locating, interpreting, analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating, and communicating information should become a part of every subject across the curriculum" (American Library Association).

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SUNY Council on Library Directors, Information Literacy Initiative Committee Interim Report, April 30, 1997... "Information Literacy constitutes the abilities to recognize when information is needed and to locate, evaluate, effectively use, and communicate information in its various formats."

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UC Berkeley Information Literacy Survey... "Only 1.2% of the students scored 90% or higher in correctly answering the survey questions. The combined results closely mirrored the individual departmental results... fewer than 50% of the respondents were able to properly search for library materials by subject, correctly identify citations to books and journal articles... or recognize and identify key electronic sources in their subject major."

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The American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) created an action committee and now regularly offers programming on information literacy at its annual conferences. At its 1998 spring conference, for example, AAHE sponsored a special session on information literacy for academic vice presidents and librarians.

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The National Education Association (NEA) incorporates information literacy into its Teacher Education Initiative Program that brings together higher education and K-12 partners to promote both school and teacher education reform.

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The Commission on Higher Education (CHE) of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools listed specific information literacy questions in its 1990 "Framework for Outcomes Assessment," and in 1996, reaffirmed in that year’s "Framework" the critical role of information literacy in general education programs.

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In 1993, the 32 member colleges of the Washington State and Community College Association developed and endorsed a position paper supporting the inclusion of "information competency" in their core courses.

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In separate initiatives, the California State University System and the California Community College System announced their intentions to create plans to facilitate and evaluate the development of information literacy among their respective students.

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In 1994-1995, the National Forum on Information Literacy conducted a survey of 2,326 post-secondary institutions to determine the extent information literacy has been integrated into higher education.

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The Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) of the National Research Council is pleased to announce the public release of a new report entitled "Being Fluent with Information Technology." Seeking to understand what is necessary for people to use information technology effectively today and to adapt to changes in information technology tomorrow... The report articulates an intellectual framework for fluency with information technology using three essential and interrelated components for using information technology effectively.

  1. Intellectual capabilities--the application and interpretation of computer concepts and skills used in problem solving.

  2. Concepts--the fundamental ideas and processes that support information technology, such as an algorithm; how information is represented digitally; and the limitations of information technology. Understanding basic concepts is important, the report says, because technology changes rapidly and can render skills obsolete. A basic understanding also helps in quickly upgrading skills and exploiting new opportunities offered by technology.

  3. Skills--abilities that are associated with particular hardware and software systems. Skills requirements will change as technology advances...

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The American Library Association Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report... "emphasized repeatedly the need for all people to become information literate, which means that they are not only able to recognize when information is needed, but they are also able to identify, locate, evaluate, and use effectively information needed for the particular decision or issue at hand. The information literate person, therefore, is empowered for effective decision making, freedom of choice, and full participation in a democratic society."

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"Regional accrediting agencies not formally associated with the National Forum on Information Literacy, have been supportive of information literacy. The Executive Director of the Western Association of School and Colleges has published articles and spoke about the need to incorporate information literacy as a core learning competence for all undergraduate and graduate programs, and to establish the library as a central center for student learning. In addition, workshops and/or programming on information literacy have been held by the New England and North Central Accrediting Agencies. (source: http://www.infolit.org/documents/progress.html)

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In 1993, the Washington State Community College system developed a position paper supporting "information competency." It has subsequently been endorsed by the 32 community and technical colleges in the state. In a 1995 survey, 26 of the 32 colleges indicated progress toward implementing information competency skills into core courses. (source: http://www.infolit.org/documents/progress.html)

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The California State University system is committed to developing information literacy competence among all its students and measuring those skills through performance-based testing. It has also funded two system-wide conferences and a number of multi-campus projects including research to benchmark undergraduate information literacy skills. (source: http://www.infolit.org/documents/progress.html)

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In 1996, the California Community College system announced the development of an Information Competency Plan as a prerequisite for the completion of a community college certificate. (source: http://www.infolit.org/documents/progress.html)

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According to the U. S. Department of Labor Secretary’s Commission on Achieve Necessary Skills (SCANS), information literacy is one of five essential competencies for solid job performance. The SCANS report mandates the need for developing high-performance skills to support an economy characterized by high skills, high wages, and full employment. (source: http://www.infolit.org/documents/progress.html)

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President Bill Clinton called for a highly skilled workforce in his National Technology Policy for America, and the recent federal initiative to define information technology literacy may well help to provide greater visibility for people’s need to become information literate. (source: http://www.infolit.org/documents/progress.html)

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In 1995, a consortium of five universities in the Cape Town region of South Africa received a million-dollar grant to collaboratively develop information literacy programs. (source: http://www.infolit.org/documents/progress.html)

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A 1994 Australian government study on preparing citizens for lifelong learning underscored the need for the mastery of information literacy skills as a part of the education process. Three national conferences on information literacy have been held in that country. (source: http://www.infolit.org/documents/progress.html)

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A 1994 article by South African Shirley Behrens provides a comprehensive, conceptual analysis and historical overview of information literacy. (source: http://www.infolit.org/documents/progress.html)

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Researchers in Australia and Singapore are pioneering definitions of information literacy in the workforce. (source: http://www.infolit.org/documents/progress.html)

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Colorado Department of Education... "Information literacy guidelines provide all students with a process for learning that is transferable among content areas and from the academic environment to real life."

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Information literacy is the ability to identify what information is needed and the ability to locate, evaluate, and use information in solving problems and composing discourse. It encompasses a set of competencies that will provide for survival and success in an information technology environment. ... (source: http://hakatai.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/ocotillo/report94/rep7.html --List of informaton literacy competencies).

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Ocotillo Report '94 -- Information Literacy Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction, Maricopa County Community College District, Arizona... a good summary of two years of investigation... "We have evaluated a number of models in place nationwide for implementing information literacy curriculum. [One good option is] "Information Literacy as a Stand-alone Course. In this model, students would take a course devoted strictly to teaching information literacy skills. This would be similar to our current library instruction, but far more extensive. Students would take a pre-test and a post-test to assess their achievement in mastering information literacy competencies. We might consider allowing students to test out of the requirement if they scored above a certain level on the pre-test, as we currently do with the critical reading requirement."

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New Mexico State University... "Information Literacy is designed to help students become full participants in our Information Society. Using a mixture of lecture, hands-on assignments and written research projects, this course gives students both the technological skills and the critical thinking abilities needed to use print and electronic information resources found in libraries and on the Internet. Students successfully completing this course will be able to locate, critically evaluate and apply information in their academic courses and in their professional and personal life."

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UNIV 001A Information Literacy --California State University, Chico "..an integrated approach to the basics of effective use of computers, libraries, and information. It presents the fundamentals of college level information literacy, provides a common level of understanding basics and prepares you to master more advanced and complex skills appropriate to academic disciplines."

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California State University at San Marcos... "The MISSION of the Information Literacy Program is to infuse throughout the curriculum the teaching of information theory, concepts, skills and use of the library to the CSUSM community."

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Information Literacy Project --Coastal Carolina University... "The basic goal of information literacy is to enable people to become lifelong learners. The premise of this goal is that information literate individuals will be able to sift through the enormous amount of information available, effectively using appropriate sources to solve problems and make decisions in all areas of their lives." (Warmkessel, 80) "Technology should not be a hindrance but a useful tool. Understanding the benefits of working within an electronic environment is fundamental to the information literacy proposal."

Information Literacy Project --Coastal Carolina University... "Libraries are the key to lifelong learning and an education citizenry. It is imperative that libraries are well-supported. It is also imperative that libraries play a major role in teaching increasingly more sophisticated bibliographic and research strategies, as well as information management. Today’s student must develop a new understanding of library resources and services that goes well beyond local services and local holdings to universal access to information, knowledge, and cultures, regardless of where these information resources are physically located or where the user is physically located. Today’s library collections with enabling technologies, in order to better serve a broader and more library/computer literate population." (Pastine, 20)

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FGCU Library Information Literacy Program --Florida Gulf Coast University... "Careful, thoughtful inculcation of information skills requires extended time and interaction among students, librarians, and faculty"

"Students are coached in critical thinking skills as they apply to the library and information technology environment. Critical thinking, applied to information literacy skills, can be defined as the systematic, flexible, self-aware, and self-correcting formulation of search strategies and the careful evaluation of search results."

"Student learning is the centerpiece of the library's assessment efforts. The ILP defines information literacy competencies and will develop benchmarks for varying levels of expertise in the research process. The benchmarks will allow learners to self-assess, and enable the librarians to evaluate and improve the ILP's efficacy"

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Information Literacy Modules --Rutgers... "This series of modules emphasizes investigations as vehicles to explore the information available over the Internet. The course engages participants in learning an Investigative Cycle, several types of literacy, Gardner's Seven Intelligences and much more."


Students Speak

(Taken from the records of Richland College, DCCCD where LS102 has been taught for 20 years as a 3 hour academic course by Sharlee Jeser-Skaggs and others)

"I have learned more from this course than I ever expected or imagined I could. This is the most practical course I have ever taken. This was highly recommended to me by other students and faculty and I see now why. It is an excellent course to prepare anyone that wishes to go on to another college or university... Thank you for opening up a new dimension of knowledge for me that I can use for the rest of my college and professional career."

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"This course has been extremely informative and applicable. My only regret is that I did not take it sooner. During the course of my education, I have spent a considerable amount of time in libraries; and yet, there was so much I never learned about libraries. I am so grateful that such a course is available... This is one class that has provided me with information that I will no doubt use for the rest of my life. I think one of the greatest gifts an instructor can give students is a tool that they can use to teach themselves, a too which will enable them to actively participate in their own life-long education... this class has given such a gift! I, for one, am extremely grateful."
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"This has been one of the most rewarding and beneficial courses I have ever taken... The course has given me a great foundation for my continuing educational goals. I would recommend this course highly."
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"I am in the Honors Program here at Richland; I know what it means to be challenged as a student. I have found [this course] to be both stimulating and challenging... This is one of the most valuable courses I have taken in my college education; it teaches important research skills which are intrinsic to successful college work. Not only are these skills that I will use in my educational endeavors, I will use them in my personal life as well--in my private quest for knowledge... it should be made a required course!"
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"I've leaned information that can be used in other classes as well as daily life outside the classroom. As a result of taking this class, I feel that I am a better all-around student."
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"This course teaches one knowledge that they will use as much as English. They will refer back to what they have learned in all types of classes. It is hard to put into words how much I have learned."
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"Because research and writing are so closely tied into the use of the library, I believe it is imperative they know their way around in the realm of books and indexes. [This course] allows a student to discover a good deal about the library and its function. The end result of this is better, faster research and study technique."
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"I considered myself to be proficient at locating books in the library, but had no idea of the extensive resources available at a college library. This course has given me the skills necessary to utilize these resources effectively and efficiently and will continue to aid me as I continue my college education."
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"...as a result of this class, I've been able to participate at a higher level in several of my other classes... It should be a compulsory class or a requirement for graduation just as English 101, English 102, and Speech Communcationa are."
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"This course should be made into one that is required; on the same level as English and History. Truly effective research cannot be done without the right materials and 99% of students do not know where to find the materials or even that they exist. How can they do research papers from only a few magazines and newspapers they see in their everyday lives. This course has given me the knowledge and skill to write a good research paper as well as the confidence. This is the most practical, beneficial course I have taken to date. This information now only will improve my college career but my professional career as well... Thank you for such a helpful course I can use from now on in my life."
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"I have learned so much in such a short period of time. I have read books I never thought I would read; also I have seen books I didn't know existed. This is a great class to expand your knowledge in any field."
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"Before I enrolled in [this class], I must admit I never read book reviews or even held an esteem for books. All that has changed. Most likely it was our study of yearbooks, handbooks and almanacs which was the last straw between my indifference and my growing admiration for books. I was so excited when I understood what The Osford Companion to English Literature was. Only the future will demonstrate what this class has done for me..."
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"I really think that this is a very necessary course for the student to take if he is goinig to be successful in school."
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"I have recommended this course to so many people and will continue to do so. It has been so beneficial to me as an older returning woman. It has made research an unjoyable task, not just "bearable"."

Faculty Speak

"Where do I sign up for this course? I wish I had had something like this before I started my graduate courses at UT Austin. Anyway, it appears that we do not have enough time to teach information literacy in the college level English courses, and we should welcome a course that could complement our instruction--- in any discipline."

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"I am 100% in favor of Information Literacy as a core curriculum course taught by the library [faculty]. If you remember Colby Glass and I developed the paired courses in English 1302 and Library Science some years back. It was fabulous... what I learned in his [class] was overwhelming... I would really want the students to have the advantage of this ever evolving information literacy... "

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"Our students need as much exposure to literacy in so many areas that this course would offer another avenue for their growth and development... let the professionals in the LRC [teach] the course... I am looking at the students' needs here..."

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"I would strongly support the LRC [faculty's] desire to teach the kind of course described. Such research matters are no more in the province of the English department than in the province of any other department..."

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"..a valuable course for our students, one which [can] certainly be taught well by the LRC... it [can] provide a strong orientation to knowledge and skills which are essential to success in college level courses throughout our curriculum."


The Solution!

Obviously, since the purpose of this site is to make the case for Information Studies, the solution to be offered is a Coordinating Board approved, academic course in Information Studies required for all students.

A good example of institutional responses to the needs listed above is the report from the SUNY Council on Library Directors, Information Literacy Initiative Committee, which was issued on April 30, 1997. Among the recommendations were the following:

One thing to be avoided is the preconception, held by some at the Coordinating Board, that Information Studies is a remedial course. This misconception is best dispelled by a statement from Ulster County Community College, where an IS course is required for graduation:

"This is a course about concepts. This is often misunderstood. Students tend to think that information literacy is only about learning to use various tools, like CD-ROMs and the Internet. The fact is that these information tools are changing constantly. To learn how to use a specific tool that is bound to change quickly is obviously not as useful as learning the concepts that are fundamental.."


Course Description

A study of the fundamentals of information--storage, retrieval, evaluation, documentation, and communication--from theoretically and technologically diverse perspectives. Topics will include how to do research, MLA and APA styles of documentation, copyright laws, using the PC for acquiring information and solving problems, critical thinking about information, a survey of the types of information resources available, and the general principles of information organization, storage, and retrieval. The course will include the preparation of students for a rapidly changing environment and student adaptation to new information formats and technologies as they become available.


Expected Results

Based on the literature (see above), and our own experience teaching Information Studies (in a truncated form, as Library Studies), we can say with some confidence that students who take an IS course will be more confident and successful students. Retention will be improved, GPAs will be improved, and for community colleges successful transfers to senior institutions will be improved.

In addition, faculty in other disciplines will find such students better prepared to deal with their subject matter, to think independently, and to cope with research assignments.

As soon as Coordinating Board approval is received, students taking the Palo Alto College IS course will be tracked. The expectation is that we will see improved retention and success. We strongly recommend that other colleges and universities pursue the collection of such data so that meta-studies can be performed in the future and conclusions applicable to a broader population can be reached.



Professor Colby Glass, MLIS