Conferences, Pedagogy, School Libraries

#AASL11 Reflections: HS – College Information Literacy

First of all, this wasn’t really about the entire continuum, it was more about the 12-13 disconnect. In other words, what we HS librarians think our students leave knowing, and what first year professors actually see when our students get there. The caveats of the study are that the students were from Catholic schools that essentially fed into the University of St. Thomas – I would love to see this replicated in other combinations (eg, independent schools to their top 20 acceptances or top state universities and the top high schools in their states).

The UST study found some differences from Megan Oakleaf/Patricia Owen’s research (see their article on TL). They approached it from the viewpoint of “what expectations should UST librarians have regarding the info lit skills of incoming freshmen”? (vs. the what do colleges expect = what HS wants to know approach) There has been much research into HS-College transition (the emotional issues, for example) but little empirical library research; there was a lot of introductory/trends/how I do it here/etc articles and presentations.

One practical suggestion was that students were lost when doing database research, as they’d come in looking for a product by provider/vendor name. Databases should never be arranged by vendors; they should be arranged A-Z or by subject, mimic academic libraries. This reiterates what I’ve heard at other presentations, when students get so comfortable with one database in high school that they don’t know there are others out there, or that the one they love may not be the most appropriate for their current research need.

The most interesting part was that UST looked at the comparison of HS librarians reporting to faculty reporting: we may think that we’re graduating information literate and skilled students, but their first year professors don’t see that. It was also interesting that for a large number of the faculty, the sense was that they could teach the appropriate skills in the classroom rather than bringing students (or sending them) to the library for instruction and assistance. I’ve seen this in high schools as well, from both “revered old timers” and “sweet young things” (and while some can teach the skills and guide students, often they really can’t or they don’t understand the school’s desired style and thus confuse students with competing expectations).

The ARCL standards were used, not AASL; I know there’s been a lot of work correlating AASL to NETS and AASL to Common Core, but how much work as there been on AASL to ACRL? I know one independent school that correlated NETS to ACRL, ignoring AASL completely. Radical thought? It might be really beneficial for HS librarians to ignore AASL’s standards and focus on ACRL’s as we prepare students for the next phase of their education.

Their research and presentation is online here (bibliography included). We were also advised to check out Megan Oakleaf’s work, Oakleaf’s work with Patricia Owen, and Head/Eisenberg’s Project Information Literacy.

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