Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

Information Literacy: A Community Service-Learning Approach

Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

Information Literacy: A Community Service-Learning Approach

Article excerpt


Several years ago, the University of San Diego's administrators and faculty saw increased student community service as one way to put the University's values into action. A Community Service-Learning Office was established on campus to initiate, promote, and coordinate service-learning activities. An Advisory Committee comprised of faculty, students, and community partners built upon existing collaborative efforts to plan for integrating community service-learning into academic study. Subsequently, USD received a Corporation for National Service "Learn and Serve America: Higher Education Enhancement" grant in the fall of 1994 to help put that plan into action.

The overall vision of community service-learning at USD is of care, commitment, and concern that are put into action by students, faculty, and staff who combine service and learning in projects that respond to real needs as identified by the community. Several campus-based student organizations, clubs, fraternities and sororities sponsor ongoing community projects coordinated by student leaders. Community projects are sponsored also through other campus organizations, such as the Social Issues Committee and University Ministry.

Course-based service-learning is a very large component of service-learning at USD. Over 55 faculty persons campus-wide have integrated service-learning into approximately 100 courses. Approximately 35 such courses are offered each semester. Student/faculty teams facilitate these service-learning experiences for over 1000 students each year.

A special feature of USD's course-based service-learning is the faculty/student/community partner team approach. Each team member has certain responsibilities. Faculty members participate in curriculum development workshops, revise their course curriculum to include service-learning, and work closely with a student leader chosen from their class. Student leaders link with faculty to provide service-learning information and to offer support to their classmates; they enroll in a field experience leadership seminar to enhance their theoretical understanding and practical skills. Community partners include schools, agencies, companies, and organizations; they provide placements for USD students and a person who serves as liaison to USD and helps the community partner become an extension of the classroom.

BUS 86--Information Systems

The following is a description of applying community service-learning in the undergraduate information systems course required for the Bachelor of Business Administration degree at USD.

Course Objectives--Information Literacy

The emphasis of the course is to help the student: a) develop problem solving and communications hands-on skills using microcomputer software and the Internet; b) understand terminology, concepts, technologies, services, and trends in the information industry; and c) understand his/her role as an end-user in the system development process.

An important learning objective of the course is to develop information literacy skills from the perspective of the student as an end-user or client of information services available to them as a business professional. Two types of skills are important for information literacy: conceptual skills and practical, hands-on skills.

Conceptual skills comprise a student's (client's) information style and his/her ability for reflexive thinking. A client's information style is the person's conceptual framework for defining their own information requirements and how to go about searching for and using available information resources. Some information literacy research emphasizes that information behavior is a determinate process, that there are optimum, efficient ways of defining one's information needs, and then searching for and using that information. But many work situations are highly semi-structured and require the client to articulate information needs and search strategies on his/her own. …

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