Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Case-Based Learning as Pedagogy for Teaching Information Ethics Based on the Dervin Sense-Making Methodology

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Case-Based Learning as Pedagogy for Teaching Information Ethics Based on the Dervin Sense-Making Methodology

Article excerpt


With the influx of contemporary infor - mation and communication technology, information ethics education around the world is increasingly important as issues of privacy, intellectual property, and intellectual freedom increase and become more complex. Today, the once highly valued American legal privilege of selectively revealing information about one's self is debated in light of new awareness and allegations that national programs without individual permission collect metadata on phone calls in efforts to thwart terrorism (Harding, 2014). Facebook, a popular online social networking service that operates as though a permanent billboard in the public domain, is reason to question use of social media, particularly the ownership and safety of personal e-messages (Shaffer, 2011; Bolton, Parasuamen, Hoefnagels, Migchels, & Kabadayi, 2014). In an economy driven by information, what is the best way to preserve and utilize one's intellectual property including emoticons, original narrative, musical compositions, or a secret recipe for cupcakes? How can rights of library users to read, seek information, and speak freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution be protected in today's libraries in light of the public's growing fears that access to information makes easier the assembly of handmade bombs or the illegal purchase of guns? These are only a few issues suggesting that information ethics education must be operationalized as an immediate priority in traditional disciplines as well as in quickly growing, new academic areas such as library and information science (LIS).

Discourse about principles of information ethics including where, when, and how these principles are taught has intensified in recent years in the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE). ALISE members in their 2007 (ratified in 2008) Position Statement on Information Ethics in LIS Education stated that "Information ethics should be included in study and discussion across the library and information curriculum" (para. 2, item 3). The Information Ethics Special Interest Group of ALISE strongly advocates that student learning outcomes include 1) recognizing and articulating ethical conflicts; 2) developing responsibility for consequences of individual and collective interactions; 3) knowledge and skills for intercultural dialog; 4) awareness of relevance to everyday information work; and 5) ethical reflection, critical thinking, and ability to use information ethics in professional life (ALISE, 2007, para 2, item 1). Advances in teaching information ethics were emphasized at the 2014 ALISE Information Ethics Special Interest Group program in Philadelphia, PA. The 2015 ALISE Innovative Pedagogies Special Interest group in Chicago, IL emphasized current and innovative teaching strategies, practices, and curriculum ideas that reflect social justice issues. Teaching information ethics has also been emphasized by other LIS organizations such as the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST, 2001) and American Library Association (ALA, 2009).

Purpose and Research Questions

In the context of this study, case-based pedagogy is viewed from the perspective of Tomey (2003) as a form of instruction wherein "students are presented with authentic scenarios developed with a storytelling quality, interesting characters, controversial topics, and dilemmas to engage students and stimulate conversations about multiple issues and various stakeholder perspectives" (p. 35). The central purpose of this study is to investigate in a preliminary effort to determine whether casebased pedagogy as currently designed is effective in teaching basic principles of information ethics. This purpose and the researchers' interests in Dervin's SenseMaking Methodology (Dervin, 1983), in particular the Dervin and Clark (2003), communication-as-procedure model, were used to formulate two questions:

1. …

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