New Literacies, Standards, and Teacher Education

By Henderson, Martha V.; Scheffler, Anthony J. | Education, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

New Literacies, Standards, and Teacher Education


Henderson, Martha V., Scheffler, Anthony J., Education


Introduction

Information literacy is not a new concept; however, the impact of the Information Age exacerbated its importance and expanded the types of literacies (Smith, 2002). A general focus on library skills and information literacy has now become a complex concept incorporating multiple literacies. Shapiro and Hughes (1996), recognizing this complexity, recommended that we conceive of information literacy as a "new liberal arts," one as essential as the basic liberal arts were to educated persons in medieval society.

In addition, Breivik (1998) explained that the recent and ongoing explosion of information has entirely and forever changed the landscape and described the bottom line as: "When will this campus embrace information literacy programs?" (p. 6). Dorr and Besser (2002) reported "In addition to information literacy--and traditional reading and writing or print literacy--other literacies have been important or are emerging now as important" (p. 6). The California State University System (CSUS, 1995) defined "information competence" as "the fusing or the integration of library literacy, computer literacy, media literacy, technological literacy, ethics, critical thinking, and communication skills" (p. 2).

Focusing on teacher education's role in relation to these new literacies, Metcalfe (Dorr & Besser, 2002) stated:

   With the proliferation of technology
   in public and private arenas, it is
   important for teacher education programs
   to develop strategies for
   ensuring that teacher candidates are
   able to understand the complexity
   of information literacy. Teachers
   must be prepared to use technology
   for their professional growth and
   learning. In addition, teachers need
   to be able to teach in ways that connect
   to students' lives and expand
   their students' understandings,
   knowledge and use of technology.
   (p. 4)

The National Forum on Information Literacy (National Forum, 2002) was to work with teacher education programs to ensure that new teachers could integrate information literacy into instruction. However, in its Progress Report on Information Literacy (National Forum, 1998), the Forum reported that no progress had been realized toward modification of teacher education and performance expectations to include information literacy concerns.

Literacy Standards

In the absence of national standards, many departments of education and school districts began as early as 1989 to develop information literacy competency standards. Some of these were very detailed and complex, such as those developed in Texas, California, and Louisiana (OERI 2002). Then with renewed interest in the development of performance or outcomes based standards, professional organizations, including NCTE, NCSS, IRA, ECE, CEC, incorporated information literacy competencies into new program standards. As the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education planned for NCATE 2000, revised accreditation standards for the school, college, department of education (SCDE) and focused on outcomes, constituent organizations were required to develop new standards. The majority of professional organizations and state departments have revised standards, developed new curricular emphases, and issued new content standards. All of these new or revised standards include components related to information literacy, technological literacy, and/or other literacies.

The American Association of School Librarians and the Association for Educational Communications and Technology issued a significant publication, Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning (1998), which addressed P-12 competencies. Nine information literacy standards were identified and levels of proficiency items within each standard and examples of potential situations and content-area standards were delineated.

Then the Association of College & Research Libraries (2000) issued its Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. …

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