Workshop for Instruction in Library Use (WILU) (45th : 2016)

Frames within Frames : An Exploration of the Assumptions Implicit in the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education Svendsen, Melissa


The ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy reflects an education system designed for students from a particular cultural background which predisposes them to make certain assumptions about the world. In this talk, I will attempt to uncover some of these assumptions, and will argue that if we are to serve all of our students – and in particular our international students – we must make these implicit assumptions explicit. For instance, the first frame — that authority is constructed and contextual – is predicated on the assumption that authority is contested in that reasonable people can disagree on the assignment of authority, both within and among communities. This is a particularly difficult concept for international students from countries with authoritarian social and political systems, as is the related notion that questioning authority is not necessarily a sign of disrespect. Thus to adequately meet the needs of these students, we must be prepared to teach these concepts directly. I will also share my experience using information literacy instruction to acculturate international students to North American academic norms, including the necessity of addressing and properly citing the opinions of others. Without an understanding of the assumptions that underlie the Framework, international students may find themselves operating in an information ecosystem that they find utterly bewildering. For instance, for a student who does not understand that reasonable people can disagree, North American citation practices may simply not make sense: if there is one and only one correct way of looking at an issue, then all knowledge is, at some level, common knowledge. It is only with an understanding of research as an ongoing conversation that the necessity of keeping track of the different voices becomes obvious. For this reason, I believe that the issue of academic integrity must be addressed at the conceptual level.

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