Students in SJSU Ischool’s graduate program must be able to design instructional programs based on learning principles and theories; in order to demonstrate their grasp of information sciences, their preparedness to become an information professional, and to prove that they have a firm grasp of this core competency. I have taught elementary school for many years and my first master’s program was in education. Throughout my years of teaching and my education, I have learned a lot about the principals and theories behind instruction as well as instructional design for works well for students. Utilizing effective pedagogy in instruction is essential for ensuring student success and expanding our student’s knowledge base.
I have always been committed to aid students in the construction of knowledge. I typically apply universal theories to my instructional design and in my instructional approaches to be inclusive of all types of learners. O’Connor, Chodock, Dolinger (2009) describe Universal design as, “Universal Design for Instruction (UDI), developed to increase access for students with learning disabilities at the postsecondary level, provides a framework that librarians can apply to design inclusive information literacy curricula”. This approach to instruction is used to create a more inclusive environment for all types of learners. It is designed to keep in mind individuals with disabilities when designing course materials and instructional practices. The Universal Design for Learning according to O’Connor, Chodock, Dolinger (2009) applies three main principals to help all learners to be able to inclusively interact with instruction:
1. Provide Multiple Means of Representation (the “what” of
2. Provide Multiple Means of Expression (the “how” of learning).
3. Provide Multiple Means of Engagement (the “why” of
As instructors and teacher many of these principals come naturally as part of instruction. Incorporating this design approach to is not only inclusive of individuals with disabilities, but is effective for all learner. This approach is easily integrated into information literacy and works in collaborating with the ACRL’s framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. This type of instruction allows all learners to have equity of access to education. As an instructor ensuring equitable access to instruction is essential to ensuring that all my students can not only engage in the learning process, but be successful learners.
I also utilize the constructivist approach to teaching and instruction because I believe in the importance of students’ ability to construct knowledge through active investigation. Booth (2011) describes constructivism as a style in which, “learners create meaning from their environments by interpreting them through personal attributes, values, and perceptions. Literally, individuals construct knowledge by building their own context for the information they encounter”. This approach to learning is often used by modeling behaviors and giving students the tools they need to construct knowledge through hands-on approaches to instruction. I believe it is important to facilitate learning to students, but they learn more from problem-solving approaches where they demonstrate the ability to construct knowledge from instruction. Giving students the tools to make the connections and guiding their learning through by giving guidance not answers to their problems. Learners developing critical thinking skills and allowing them to build knowledge, “in constructivism the evidence of learning is not necessarily in behavioral change, and much of how we learn occurs through observation, translation, and imitation (mimesis, socialization, and modeling)”(Booth, 2011, p. 62). I believe that constructivism is especially applicable to information literacy instruction and is also in line with the ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education . Incorporating the ACRL’s frameworks into information literacy instruction is key to ensuring that the necessary information literacy skills required to navigate this age of information overload due to the increased ability to create and disseminate information. The boundaries to accessing information have increasingly lessened in the digital era and with the increased ability to quickly spread information or misinformation globally has increased the need for information professionals to be able to instructor information user in information literacy skills that are applicable in the information age.
Although these tend to be the main types of theoretical approaches I have utilized in instruction it’s important to understand and be acquainted with many approaches, practices, and theories related to instruction to ensure that you are providing effective information literacy instruction and utilizing the best techniques to enhances student learning. As Grassian and Kaplowitz (2009) states, ” effective instructors remain flexible and are willing to mix and match various techniques as needed”. Being responsive and aware of students needs and adapting instruction to fit those needs is what makes an effective instructor. Understanding that there is no one approach to instruction that is perfect or ideal all instructional theories have drawbacks. As an information professional, it is necessary to consider methods of learning and the learning needs of our students to effectively apply instructional theories to information literacy instruction. Only as effective instructors will we as information professionals are able to assist individuals in being able to effectively use and evaluate information.
As information professional instruction of information literacy is an important aspect of the profession that is growing and expanding in competencies due to the new complexity of information availability that exists in the digital era. The need for our society to enhance it’s critical thinking skills in relation to information literacy has never been more prominent as in these times of misinformation and “fake news”. The demand for information professionals to be effective and engaging instructors capable of teaching critical thinking skills to students and influence society to use information literacy skills to evaluate the information they encounter has never been more evident. Recent events in U.S. history related to the Presidential election have highlighted the need for information literacy skills in this country. Information professionals need to be able to design instructional programs based on learning principal and theories on information literacy to effectively educate students on these essential critical thinking and evaluating skills related to information literacy.
My first piece of evidence is from my INFO 250 course on Design and Implementation of Instructional Strategies for Information Professionals. Students in INFO 250 were asked to design a lesson plan related to information literacy with student learning outcomes based on ACRL’s framework for information literacy for higher education. For this assignment, I created a lesson plan on the spread of misinformation on social media directed to community college students to help educate them on information that is distributed via social media. I included this as evidence of my ability to design information literacy instruction based on ACRL framework and is design utilizing evidence-based instructional theories and principals.
My second piece of information is my learning activity 5 from my INFO 254 course on Information Literacy and Learning. Students in INFO 254 were asked to describe how you will evaluate your instruction to improve it for the future: Formative Evaluation is your intention for evaluating your instruction. Students were asked to use Learning Activities 1 through 4 create a final instructional design plan for a short course/workshop/tutorial. The intention of LA5 and LA6 and LA7 was to simulate the process of pulling a proposal/instructional design plan together into a coherent document that will be used to share with stakeholders for review, revision, and/or approval. In learning activity 5 I created a professional development workshop on marketing library services using Piktochart for a small community college library. In my assignment, I described the learner characteristics, materials, instructor, instructional goals, entry behaviors, learner outcomes, learner motivations, learn participation, extent materials, a rubric for testing/ assessment, follow-through activities, instructional outlines, and a formative evaluation for my workshop. I included this assignment as evidence of my ability to use instructional theories and learner principals to design an instructional workshop for information professionals and library staff members.
My third piece of evidence is my guide on the side tutorial for INFO 254 course on Information Literacy and Learning. In this assignment, students were asked to create a tutorial for information literacy using Guide on the Side tool to create a libguide. Students were asked to consider learner principals and instructional theories in the creation of their tutorials. My partner and I created a libguide for using CINAHL Headings when searching in EBSCO’s CINAHL database. We describe the theories related to designing virtual tutorials and instruction. We utilized these theories in the creation of our online tutorial for students. I included this as evidence of my ability to use instructional theories and learner principals to design an instructional to design on an online tutorial for an academic library for medical or nursing students to utilize.
My final piece of evidence is my Learning activity number 7 for my INFO 254 course on Information Literacy and Learning. The learning activity 7 assignment is the final product of my instructional workshop. Students were asked to use Learning Activities 1 through 4 create a final instructional design plan for a short course /workshop /tutorial. The intention of LA5 and LA6 and LA7 was to simulate the process of pulling a proposal /instructional design plan together into a coherent document that will be used to share with stakeholders for review, revision, and/or approval. In learning activity 7 I developed a professional development workshop on marketing library services using Piktochart for a small community college library. In my assignment, I described the learner characteristics, materials, instructor, instructional goals, entry behaviors, learner outcomes, learner motivations, learn participation, testing/ assessment, follow-through activities, instructional outlines, and a formative evaluation for my workshop. I included this assignment as evidence of my ability to use instructional theories and learner principals to design an instructional workshop for information professionals and library staff members. I also included my screencast for my proposal for a professional development workshop.
Information has become more accessible, information dissemination has become less complicated and quicker, and information creation has become increasingly available to all types of users with these changes to information comes increasing confusing for information seeker. The mass availability of information has increased the need for an information literate society and thus increased the need for information professionals with knowledge of instructional practices and approaches in order to educate our increasingly global society in information literacy skills that are relevant to the digital world of information.
Booth, C. (2011). Chapter 4: A crash course in learning theory. In Reflective teaching, effective learning: Instructional literacy for library educators. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions.
Burkhardt, J. M. (2016). Teaching information literacy reframed: 50 framework-based exercises for creating information-literate learners. London: Facet Publishing.
Chodock, T., Dolinger, E., & O’Connor, L. (2009). Applying universal design to information literacy: teaching students who learn differently at landmark college. Reference and user services quarterly, 49(1), 24-32. http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/loginurl=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspxdirect=true&db=llf&AN=502988882&site=ehost-live
Grassian, E. S., & Kaplowitz, J. R. (2009). Information literacy instruction: Theory and practice(2nd ed.). New York: Neal-Schuman.