Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Survey Responses re: ACRL IL Framework

Since my last blog post about the ACRL IL Framework, spring semester went and happened, and is still happening. Amidst one of the busiest semesters I've ever experienced, I have managed to write and submit responses to the survey the revision task force has asked members of the profession to fill out, offering feedback on parts 1 and 2 of the first draft of the Framework.

Many smart folks have decided to post their survey responses publicly -- a practice I fully support, and have already benefited from (see below for more on this), and so I will follow in kind.

I have a lot more to say about the threshold concepts released in part 2 of the first draft, but those thoughts will have to wait. I'm throwing this post together quickly because this weekend is Pascha (i.e., Easter), and after tonight I'll be gone from the office until next Tuesday, so if I don't post these now, I won't have a chance again until a week from now. Here they are:

*1. Is the feedback you are offering in response to:  

First portion of draft one (released February)
Second portion of draft one (released April)
Both portions of draft one

2. In what ways will the focus on threshold concepts help you to generate conversations with other campus stakeholders (such as disciplinary faculty partners, members of the general education curriculum committee, and academic support services staff)?

The articulation of threshold concepts for information literacy (IL) situates the work of IL programs and librarians to better communicate the cross-contextual value of what we do to stakeholders across campus. Each threshold concept is applicable and realizable within different disciplinary contexts, such that our colleagues within those disciplines will likely recognize these concepts as real and accurate portrayals of what it means to do research well. It is likely, though, that a certain amount of “translation” between how librarians describe these concepts, and how a disciplinary researcher would describe the same concept applied, will be necessary, but this is not a bad thing. Instead, this need for “translation” of these concepts in the abstract into “threshold-concepts-for-IL-as-practiced” characterizes the kinds of conversations librarians can and should be having with faculty across the disciplines. The Framework will provide the catalyst and occasion for these conversations to finally occur.

3. How do the sections for knowledge practices and assignments/assessments provide helpful guidance when considering implementing the new Framework? What else would you want to see in these sections?

The knowledge practices/abilities and dispositions lists are well-structured to provide IL practitioners a means by which to articulate the different aspects of what it means to have crossed the threshold for that concept. They are outcomes-like, without actually being outcomes, and this will be very helpful as IL programs and instructors begin to articulate local learning outcomes for their campuses and programs based on this Framework. Along these lines, I’d love to see the introduction make this connection between knowledge practices/abilities and dispositions, and their role as inspiration for the writing of local learning outcomes, more explicit. For instance, would it be appropriate to borrow language from these lists in the writing of our local learning outcomes? If so, please suggest this in the introduction as one way to utilize the Framework in the writing of local learning outcomes. The more suggestions to the profession for how to practically use this Framework in local practice, the better, I feel.

You have already implemented suggestions I have made on my blog related to more deeply integrating metaliteracy into the knowledge practices/abilities and dispositions lists, and I maintain that this was a strong revision between parts 1 and 2 of the first draft and look forward to seeing this work done on all six threshold concepts in the second draft.

In terms of the assignments/assessments sections, I have a progression of thoughts related to these to offer by way of feedback.

On my initial reading of part 1 of the draft, my first thought was to respond that the “assignments/assessments” lists are in fact just assignments; they are not assessments, and to assign that word to them misrepresents what assessment is within the Framework, which weakens the document as a whole. They are assignments which can be used as data for assessment, but assessment would be a separate step after students have produced work related to local learning outcomes. Along these lines, I suggest the introduction offer a stronger discussion about assessment, what it is, how it works in relation to student learning activities, and strategies for how the Framework might fit within a library’s IL assessment plan.  

When I read part two of the draft, I was very happy to see the coding of the suggested assignments along the lines of “appropriate for a one-shot” versus “better for an embedded IL project”. I believe these kinds of signposts should remain, and I thank you for including them.

However, I have just today experienced a third stage in my progression through thoughts on the assignments/assessments sections, which has come in response to reading other colleagues’ publicly posted responses to these survey questions. I am now becoming convinced that both the “self-assessments” and what I hope will be simply “suggested assignments” no longer belong in the primary document of the Framework, but instead should be moved to an appendix or some other supplementary location. They should still be released with the final version of the Framework, but not within the Framework itself. The reason for this suggestion is twofold: 1) they will quickly become outdated and are really very “local” in character, much like the learning outcomes we are all supposed to write using the Framework as a guide, and, 2) their real purpose is to help the IL practitioner envision what each threshold concept might look like in practice within the classroom – this is very valuable to include, but there is also no guarantee that the assignments you happen to suggest, developed from the task force’s experiences and background, are going to “actualize” that threshold concept within the mind of every practitioner who reads the Framework. By including them you are going to limit the creativity of practitioners reading the document, albeit unintentionally. They should be included somewhere, but my suggestion is to move them out of the main document and into a supplementary location.

4. We plan to include additional materials in a subsequent phase (described in the welcome message). What other elements would you find helpful that aren’t mentioned in our plans?

Please include more discussion of assessment (theory and practice, and how both relate to this new Framework) in the introduction.

The online sandbox is a must, but the technology behind it must be robust, collaborative, inclusionary, and flexible. It’s worth noting that sandbox-type conversations are already happening on blogs and Twitter; rather than create an empty content space for practitioners to visit and add to, figuring out a way to harvest and link together the conversation that has already started, and inviting others to join after the Framework is finalized and put into practice, would be ideal.

5. Is there anything else you would like for us to know?

Just my gratitude for the open, transparent, collaborative nature of this entire revision process. Thank you for this.

6. Please share any additional information about your work that would help us in understanding your perspective on the proposed Framework.

Please see www.donnawitek.com for information about my work.

7. We may want to ask you to clarify an answer. Please list your name and contact information (optional).

[I included my contact info here.]

*8. Does the feedback you are offering reflect your thoughts as an individual or the consensus of a group?

Me as an individual
A group from one library/institution
A group of many libraries (i.e., a consortia, an association, its sections or committees)


And here's a random cute picture of my toddler greeting spring last week:


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