- Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think about Information ed. by Troy A. Swanson and Heather Jagman
Consisting of nineteen essays, Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think about Information provides philosophical and theoretical foundations, as well as practical approaches, for teaching students how to move beyond mechanical research procedures. Grounded in critical pedagogy, social epistemology, and postmodernism, the essays highlight a traditional understanding of information production, distribution, and use and then offer alternative ways of conceptualizing and teaching information literacy. In today’s complex information ecosystem, Not Just Where to Click will empower students to become conscientious, reflective, and active consumers and creators of information.
Part 1 explores the differences between the thinking and assumptions of librarians, faculty, and students by examining their underlying epistemologies and beliefs. Lane Wilkinson’s essay “Theories of Knowledge in Library and Information Science” is foundational for understanding how our assumptions affect the way we teach (or do not teach) critical thinking about information. Ashley Cole, Trenia Napier, and Brad Marcum’s “Generation Z: Information Facts and Fictions” is similarly important as a model for questioning the assumptions and information gaps of users and adjusting our instruction accordingly. Meeting students and faculty “where they are” means learning their frame of reference regarding research practices and beliefs and questioning our own. As Barbara Fister notes in “The Social Life of Knowledge: Faculty Epistemologies,” librarians must learn to see knowledge in conversational, fluid terms, as faculty already do, and not as discrete “containers” of information. Similarly, we need to recognize that our online systems and tools represent epistemologies that should be questioned and whose biases should be explicitly taught, as Andrew D. Asher argues in “Search Epistemology: Teaching [End Page 208] Students about Information Discovery,” an essay on algorithmic culture and discovery tools. Stephen A. Sanders reinforces Asher’s perspective when he examines the ideological underpinnings of library and information science in Part 2.
The eleven essays in Part 2 are devoted to methods of teaching students about information, with assignments that range from evaluating news and media bias to helping students create course content. Divided into three subsections loosely grouped by theme (authority, bias, and interpretation), the chapters in Part 2 all share the goal of encouraging students to find their authorial identity and to develop their awareness as creators of information. Relying solely on traditional notions of expertise automatically excludes and thus disempowers student researchers while also ignoring the social nature of knowledge construction. This section presents various strategies for addressing the issues of expertise, authority, and student engagement, using case studies that are framed theoretically.
Not Just Where to Click is a highly readable book that will be useful for librarians wishing to engage students in critical information literacy practices, especially in the context of the threshold concepts of the ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. The essays are clear and accessible, and the collection is particularly valuable for its emphasis on librarian, faculty, and student epistemologies. This book pairs well with William B. Badke’s Teaching Research Processes: The Faculty Role in the Development of Student Researchers (Oxford, U.K.: Chandos, 2012) and with Successful Strategies for Teaching Undergraduate Research, edited by Marta Deyrup and Beth Bloom (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow, 2013). Not Just Where to Click richly combines and expands on the epistemological insights of the former and the practical, theoretically grounded examples of the latter.
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