Information Literacy Instruction: Theory and Practice

By Mgwigwi, Thumeka | Partnership : the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, July 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Information Literacy Instruction: Theory and Practice


Mgwigwi, Thumeka, Partnership : the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research


Grassian, Esther S.; Kaplowitz, Joan R. Information Literacy Instruction: Theory and Practice. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2009. 412 pp. 80.00 USD. ISBN-13: 978-1555706661. ∞

Instruction librarians have been working hard to find ways to deliver more effective instruction sessions since the days of bibliographic instruction, and as such have become pioneers of information literacy evolution. Through the years, countless information literacy instruction publications have appeared in the form of articles, books, etc., and Information Literacy Instruction: Theory and Practice is no exception.

The book is divided into five themed sections and seventeen chapters. Part one covers the background and history of information literacy. The introduction examines the librarian's role in information literacy instruction and how the characteristics of students and the classroom have changed in terms of technology use by both students and instruction librarians. This section also looks at the history of the definition of information literacy from the 1960s, when information literacy was called bibliographic instruction, to the 1980s when Patricia S. Breivik first came up with the definition of information literacy which was later endorsed by the American Library Association.

Part two looks at information literacy instruction building blocks covering learning theories. Chapter three provides a basic overview of the concepts, terminology and prominent figures in the areas of psychological learning theories. As information literacy is concerned with students' critical thinking and active learning skills, chapter six defines critical thinking and how these skills can be applied to student learning. This chapter also looks at the history and definition of active learning and provides tips on when, where and how active learning can be applied to information literacy instruction. Some useful active learning techniques which librarians can apply in the classroom, such as role playing and scavenger hunts, have been provided.

While Parts one and two look at the theoretical aspects of information literacy, parts three and four cover practical aspects such as planning, development and delivery of information literacy instruction. The authors describe the planning stages in chapter seven as recognizing the learner's need, analyzing the situation, developing goals, designing assessment methods, implementing the plan and reviewing assessment data. The 'Instructional Menu', which is chapter eight, looks at different forms of instruction, i.e., synchronous or asynchronous, remote or face-to-face, paper and online instruction. The authors also give advice on when to use which form of instruction, and points to consider when making your decision, including time, budget, staffing etc.

As effective teaching cannot occur without some form of assessment, the most important chapter in this section is chapter eleven which is about assessment. This chapter has a detailed section on why librarians should include assessment in their instruction while the rest of the chapter covers different levels and types of assessment tools. …

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