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Practical Metaliteracy Tips: Part 1

by Ben DeBiasio on 2024-02-28T16:10:00-06:00 in Library and Information Science | 0 Comments

Information Literacy is hard to define. While there is certainly agreement about the importance of teaching students how to access, evaluate and ethically incorporate the work of others, an overabundance of frameworks can leave instruction programs wondering what to focus on. Should we teach about a website/tool that can help students evaluate a potential source, or should we teach them how to produce their own sources? Or is it in fact more important for students to understand how their own experiences and socialization might affect their evaluation of said sources? The emergence of interactive media platforms only complicates these questions: Is discourse on social media an academic resource, emerging technologies, examples of digital media or insidious examples of capitalism's negative effects on the information landscape? What exactly is the intersection between information, data, media, technologies, psychology and learning theory....

Way back in 2011, Mackey and Jacobson highlighted this tension when they noted that "several competing concepts of literacy have emerged including digital literacy, media literacy, visual literacy, and information technology fluency, but there is a need for a comprehensive framework based on essential information proficiencies and knowledge" (Mackey, 62). Part of Mackey and Jacobson's response to this disciplinary disorganization was to propose metaliteracy (search our catalog) as a solution. While the name might cause cynics to roll their eyes, metaliteracy is defined as an "overarching and self-referential framework that integrates emerging technologies and unifies multiple literacy types" (Mackey, 62). This unified definition is exactly why the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education "draws significantly upon the concept of metaliteracy, which offers a renewed vision of information literacy as an overarching set of abilities in which students are consumers and creators of information who can participate successfully in collaborative spaces" (ACRL).  While this concept has been around for over a decade at this point, I think that this definition suffers from "too-much-ism" and can be difficult to apply with fidelity - especially for new instruction librarians. In the coming months, I want to offer concrete suggestions of how instruction librarians can incorporate metaliteracy into their instruction practices, and their assessment of information literacy learning outcomes.

Super Practical Metaliteracy Tip you can start using tomorrow:

You can very easily incorporate metacognition and self-reflection into your exit ticket or post-session survey. Many instruction programs have a standardized tool that is administered after one-shot instruction sessions. One way to incorporate metalitearcy into your assessment is to require students to reflect on their own learning process or how they relate to information. A sample prompt might read: What strategy worked well? What have I learned that I can use for future tasks? How can I memorize this strategy?


Works Cited:

Association of College and Research Libraries, Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Chicago: ALA, 2015. American Library Association. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.

Mackey, Thomas P, and Trudi E Jacobson. “Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy.” College & research libraries 72.1 (2011): 62–78. Web.


Further Reading:

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