Final Project File - Patel Literature Review

Final Project File - Patel Literature Review May 3rd 2021

I. Introduction

The following literature review will integrate and analyze what different scholars have said about the debate surrounding informational literacy within a framework that examines the relationship between University Writing Centers and their library counterparts. I will argue that following a review of the key pieces of scholarly literature a dominant theme has emerged that centers on the fact that there is an absence of uniformity between Writing Centers and their library counterparts. This lack of uniformity resides in the fact that both Writing Centers and libraries in a University setting have different approaches and how to tackle problems relating to Informational Literacy.
From this literature review, I have extracted four significant themes that were incorporated into all of the writings. These themes included factors such as separate and distinct definitions of the concept of Informational Literacy. The absence of a unified definition has led both Library Sciences and Writing Centers to approach Informational Literacy in different ways which have contributed to significant problems in terms of how both arenas attack issues relating to student literacy and information. A second issue that was mutually discussed within the text of the scholarly articles chosen for this project was how both Writing Centers and libraries identify and conceive how Informational Literacy operates within a context of either providing library services or in terms of how writing centers view the concept as being more theoretical and philosophical.

The third and fourth additional topics that were salient in all the articles were a discussion of how the writers and scholars of Library Sciences and Writing Centers view or conceive of either methodological, pedagogical, or theoretical constructs that need to be eliminated for collaboration or coordination to occur between Writing Centers and Library Sciences to solve issues relating to informational literacy. The last topic will be a discussion of the lessons and conclusions that I will take away as a result of doing this exercise. Again the central argument for this literature review is that these trends taken together paint a picture in which Writing Centers and the Library Sciences are positioned as opposing forces in how they approach an emerging phenomenon in the realm of literacy studies. Moreover, it will be demonstrated that the solutions presented are adequate in terms of the dimensions and magnitude that Informational Literacy presents to both Writing Centers and libraries within a college or university environment.

II. History and Evolution of informational literacy

Sheila Webber and Bill Johnston in their article Conceptions of Informational Literacy New Perspectives and Implications trace the origins of the term informational literacy back to the 1970s. During this time individuals such as Paul Zurkowski advocated that the U.S government established workplace assessment tools that measure a person’s literacy in terms of how and where they acquire pieces of information. In the words of Webber and Johnston Informational Literacy was initially conceived as an individual having certain skills or abilities that made that person “informationally literate”. In this initial model, Webber and Johnston note that Zurkowski emphasized a person’s “awareness for the need of computer-based information to do research(384).” Therefore essentially the initial models of informational literacy were based on a point of view that framed information as a tool to produce economic output or ends. Webber and Johnston continue to apply Zurkowski’s fundamental approach to informational literacy in the form of their conceptual model as presented in the article.

Why the model presented in the initial article is important is out of the fact that it establishes how far Library Sciences and Writing Centers have come in framing issues that surround Informational Literacy. It also underlines the danger of having a one-dimensional theoretical formula for the basis of finding solutions. This is because in Webber and Johnston’s model the individual is perceived as being a mechanistic character that either moves left or right or up or down(385). This model does not analyze the human being in a variety of contexts that can help scholars and students of either field to appreciate how the human being has evolved in connection to the expansion of technology.

III. The Evolution Of Informational Literacy As A Concept Within Scholarly Literature From The 1970s To The Present

In terms of the article’s connection to the overall exigency which is under analysis in this project is that the authors have established a framework that will place and frame possible solutions or models and designs of Informational Literacy as being dichotomies, in which libraries and Writing Centers must choose to solve the problems that are associated with Informational Literacy. Thereby framing the debate around this issue being similar to a political debate in which a group of people selects an inherently infallible worldview.
Evolving from Webber and Johnson’s initial construction of the concept of information literacy is a more complex and sophisticated application of the term and its significance.
For example, James Elmborg in the article Critical Informational Literacy And The Implications For Instructional Practice Elborg sees Informational Literacy in pedagogical terms that apply the term in two distinct ways within the context of how literacy creates knowledge. The first context in which Elborg connects concepts or defines informational literacy is that he says, “informational literacy is a form of critical consciousness in students that allows the student to critically analyze and develop sources that form the basis for the creation of a text(192).” What Elborg implies here is that information literacy is a knowledge-based skill that is accumulated throughout the student’s educational career in which a student gradually requires skills in how to do research and design a text independently on their own. In the end, the individual is observed as having literacy agency in creating and shaping their text.

Going further what is most important is to understand how Elborg conceives informational literacy as a pedagogical responsibility. In terms of pedagogy, Elborg is stating to create and harness critical consciousness writing centers and librarians must break down the “intellectual wall” between people who teach writing and reading from people who teach how to do research(2). Elborg believes that this “intellectual wall” which separates pedagogy from Library Sciences bifurcates the knowledge process that places the student at a disadvantage out of the fact they must apply one set of skills in one area and a different set of skills in another area instead of allowing a student to act independently in both areas.
What is important here is to note that Elborg conceives a definition of literacy that is distinct from how Webber and Johnson see the term. Elborg views the term as being a natural process that develops into consciousness over time, where Webber and Johnson on the other hand view it as functional terms that contribute to economic outcomes that are beneficial for an individual rather than the entire society. Other authors have described structural forces that are occurring within the confines of both the Library Sciences and University Writing Centers that are placing pressure on how these two groups define Informational Literacy in the article is title Information Literacy, “New” Literacies, And Literacy author John Busch man argues that definitions of informational literacy have changed quickly, in large parts due to digital platforms and information technology (6).
The scholarly literature that discusses new notions of “new literacies” does not address issues properly concerning the impact that digital and technological platforms are having in reshaping the manner that information literacy is practiced. According to the author informational literacy has situated the presence of digital media as either being a ” fad and a waste of librarians’ time and talent”(14). Despite the emergence of the pressures that digital technology has placed on Informational Literacy there is a persistency within the Library Sciences to view ideas of Informational Literacy provided by librarians to meet the needs of university students.

IV. The Library Sciences Informational Literacy And The Notions Of Service Oriented Practices

In the piece Mining Writing Center Data For Information Literacy Practices, Authors Stephanie J. Graves, Kathy Christie Anders, and Valerie M. Balester suggest that Writing Centers should establish Frameworks. Such Frameworks will provide means of exploring “the intersections of Information Literacy and writing instruction.” This study is unique in its approach, utilizing pre-existing data to uncover what types of Information Literacy activities are occurring within the Writing Center. Exploring student transactions will help determine what types of collaboration will be most fruitful(103). Situating this quotation to the context of a service model approach to literacy information it can be seen that the authors appreciate how information can be used flexibly to assist the student in meeting core educational outcomes or an accumulation of skill(103).
In focusing on a service model construction the authors believe the data that is kept and shared between Libraries and Writing Centers will be used as a means to tailor services to a particular student as they go about the research process. This in turn will increase the likely hood of students returning to the University Library for more services to satisfy any shortcomings that they experience in terms of Informational Literacy gaps. The significance of focusing on retaining information is that the library will use the information and data that is shared as a means to secure more funding. For example, if a student’s library experience is enhanced and improved by the way of using specific data information this then might in term increase the level of funding in the library’s budget during a time where libraries are experiencing cutbacks in their service budgets.

An additional article that identifies the service-learning model within Libraries and Writing Centers is explained in the document that is titled Unifying Academic Research And Writing Services: Student Perspectives On A Combined Service Model. Writers David Ward, Carolyn Wisniewski, Susan Avery, and Kirsten Feist argue that instead of placing writing instruction and research tutorials separately libraries and writing centers should develop techniques that combine both writing and research tasks during one class session(1).
The authors believe that a model of this kind will understand “the experience of a student point of view and how a distinct form of collaboration enhances the student experiences(2).” Under this joint unified theory forms of collaboration primarily consisted of a librarian’s sitting down with a representative from the writing center with a student at the beginning of the research process to develop a “research plan(3).”Placing this model in a context of providing services both the Library and the Writing Center representatives are actively engaging in the research process to ensure that the student satisfies the learning objectives and outcomes that are incorporated into a writing assignment.
That is why libraries have turned to activities such as the keeping and recording of personal information that can provide them with knowledge and insight on the research behavior of a particular student concerning the argument. In this project, the articles that were discussed in this section must be taken in their totality since all the articles indicate factors to why libraries are unwilling to collaborate with University Writing Centers. This is because libraries viewed themselves in competition with other departments such as Writing Centers so they, in turn, seek to protect their self-interest. This is directly opposite to how Writing Centers construct meaning and application to the concept of Informational Literacy this topic will be discussed in the next section of this literature review.

V. University Writing Centers & Knowledge-Based Informational Literacy

Writing Centers within a University setting are usually conceived as places within English departments. Writing Centers can have their independent structures that are separate and distinct from English or other schools in the social sciences. The core mission of all Writing Centers within a university establishment is to provide some form of one-on-one tutorial to assist students to navigate the process of writing. However, within the sculpt of Informational Literacy scholars have argued for Writing Centers to take on a more active role.
Irene Clark in the article Information Literacy And The Writing Center defines informational literacy within the confines of Writing Centers to be understood as “Writing centers should become more directly involved in helping students develop a more effective research process.” The article also stresses the role that information literacy will ultimately play in determining life quality, economic independence, and the political implications that familiarity with technological resources will have for students(203).

In deconstruction, this large quotation Salem is saying that Writing Centers have the power to serve as sponsors in terms of the ways a student can practice Informational Literacy since essentially Writing Centers can serve as filters for information and resources. Moreover, Writing Centers have the power to change the landscape of higher education since they have the authority to make “institutional choices” about what and who to sponsor is not entirely “local to the institution itself(23).”What this quotation implies is that the decision-making of Writing Centers concerning resources that help students navigate Informational Literacy problem sunder lies motivational factors that affect the behavior of writing centers to explain or justify why they exist in the first place(23).
The articles that were discussed in this section underscore fundamental differences in the ways that Writing Centers frame and contextualize the factors that are involved in solving Informational Literacy problems. The formula that Writing Centers apply in this area is distinct from the Library Sciences approached to Informational Literacy. The gap that exists in how both departments define strategies to the phenomenal. The next section of this literature review will discuss the reasons why collaboration is an adequate response to the problems of informational literacy.

VI. The Inadequacies Of Collaboration As A Response To Information Literacy

A dominant theme that ran through a majority of the articles that were chosen for this literature review is the concept of collaboration as a solution and a response to the problems and sophistication of Informational Literacy. For example, Elise Ferer argues in her article titled Working Together: Library And Writing Center Collaboration, that since the services of Writing Centers and libraries within institutions overlap both Writing Centers and the Library Sciences should collaborate so that it can improve a student’s library experience so they will be able to retain how to research terms of how to implement effective information literacy techniques(543). Ferer essentially states that both writing centers and libraries will naturally collaborate due to common economic interests. However, she negates to realize the fact that both units are competing with one another for the same economic resources so they must offer old services in a new way to new problems.
Moreover, she does not evaluate how the diverse variances of Informational Literacy can influence how a department response to Informational Literacy, and secondly, she does not define adequately the context in how collaboration will occur what it means. In continuing on this theme authors Trenia Napier, Jill M. Parrot, Erin Pressly, Leslie A. Valley argued in the article titled A Collaborative Trilateral Approach To Bridging The Informational Literacy Gap In Student Writing. The writers in this article are extremely critical of the traditional bilateral approaches towards collaboration between the Library Sciences and Writing Centers the authors argue that the concept of a bilateral relationship means models of coordination that often force both Libraries and Writing Centers to engage in tradeoffs for resources to collaborate (122).
Instead, the scholars recommend trilateral relationships that include Writing Centers and Library Sciences but also expand the sculpt of the partnership beyond the walls of the academy to the private sector(124). One significant shortcoming is that the authors assume that trilateral partners will have the necessary resources to collaborate with Libraries and Writing Centers. More significantly is the authors are operating under an additional assumption, this is the assumption that third parties desire collaboration with Library Sciences and Writing Centers.

For example, private industry has embedded within them a different ethos of wanting to make a profit so therefore they might not desire to collaborate within a university culture where they might not receive adequate compensation in a collaborative endeavor.There are additional articles that frame concepts of collaboration as a method to a logical formula to be applied to facilitate a relationship between the Library Sciences and the Arts and Humanities.For example Heidi M. Jacobs in her article titled Information Literacy And Reflective Pedagogical Praxis, Jacob frames collaboration within the context of pedagogy.She says, “When we think about our pedagogical work, we need to include not only the work we do in our classrooms but our work in reference situations, collection development, library and campus committees, professional organizations, campus and community groups as well as formal and informal conversations with students, colleagues, peers, administrator’s and community members (3).”
What this quotation implies is that Jacobs believes that collaboration between Writing Centers and libraries can be achieved in the classroom through constructing conferences and team-teaching methods that highlight through a chosen framework within the landscape or writing and rhetoric (17). However, what she does not appreciate is that individuals in both Writing Centers and Libraries may not possess or have the necessary amount of knowledge on the topic or they may not have studied the dimension or rhetoric in general. Therefore, from a knowledge perspective, this form of collaboration is an appropriate response to information literacy.

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