Offered up for the political sacrifice

Recently, part of what brought me to my current position was lost. The straight forward path to curriculum integration was offered up as a political sacrifice. My route to formal integration has now become longer and more convoluted. But there is still a path. And since I still have my job, I will continue to work toward the goal of formal curriculum integration of information literacy.

For the past few years of the college's general education revisions, information literacy was on par with writing and communication as skills valued across the new curriculum. This focus was written into the working documents and the structure of the new core programs. Courses were to be designated as "writing" "research" or "communication" intensive courses. Each representing valued skills for students across disciplines to learn. This was good structure that insured the emphasis on information literacy. While many would rightly argue (myself included) that many courses currently offered could be considered "research intensive," the benefit of parity was that information literacy was a formal objective that stood on its own in the curriculum.

When I started back in the summer of 2008 I met with the chair of the committee who was and I believe remains committed to the ideas of information literacy within the curriculum. I spent the spring of 2009 meeting with the committee and working with the Writing Center Director, who sat on the committee, to draft language for the "writing" and "research" intensive designations. Unfortunately, the WC director left in the summer of 2009. In the fall of `09, I again worked with the committee chair to finalize draft language for the "writing" "research" and "communication" intensive designations. This was the draft language that was moving forward in the committee.

During this academic year, the general education changes left the committee and went before the full faculty. As with any general education curriculum changes, everyone has something at stake. What proceeded were faculty meetings spent debating the larger structure of the new curriculum. This debate and suggested changes focused on the organization, naming, and focus of 4 or 5 "pillars." Writing, Research, and Communication were left relative untouched in the formal debates.

That is until recently. In between the discussion at division and full faculty meetings, the committee dropped the "research intensive" designation. When the curriculum structure came back up for discussion in the last faculty meeting, only "writing" and "communication" intensive courses were listed. After talking with the chair of the committee, it is clear that there was a need to trim the curriculum structure. And the "research intensive" designation became one of the first trimmed.

As the debate and concern over the expansion of the curriculum grew, it appears that information literacy was the easiest piece to remove. Without a department to speak up or faculty to vote, the library holds little political influence. With only the library director holding faculty status, we became a convenient sacrificial offering.

It is still my intention to continue advocating for the inclusion of information literacy into the writing and communication intensive courses. Now the lobbying effort and demonstrating the value has become a larger focus.

Below is part of the draft language on how information literacy was planned to be integrated into the curriculum. There was/is more to the document, but this provides a quick outline of what was planned. There were certainly concerns and areas that needed work in the text, but since this text is no under consideration, I would like to share it with others. Or at least preserve it in memoriam:


All students at St. Norbert College must complete a minimum of four research-intensive (designated RI) courses according to these parameters:

* One of these RI courses must be outside of the student’s major;
* One of these RI courses must be in the student’s major and in the upper biennium;
* Students with double majors must complete an upper-biennium RI course in each major.
* Students may transfer one RI course in the lower biennium, but not both.
* Students may transfer one RI course in the upper biennium, but the second RI course must be in the student’s major so that transfer students must complete at least one RI course at SNC within the discipline.

In every Core Program, research-intensive, major, and minor course, students should devote energy to targeted stages of the research process—planning, searching, evaluating, revising, organizing, and documenting. The research products, in various forms, are the natural reflection of the research process.

All RI Core Program courses will have a dimension, which includes research exercises, application of resources outside of course material, and a formal out-of-class research assignment. These research requirements must be described in the course syllabus.

Students at the lower core will be able to:

· Communicate a basic understanding of what information is needed
· Apply a variety of types and formats of sources to locate the information
· Identify gaps in the information and revise the search
· Describe and apply criteria for evaluating the information
· Combines new information with existing knowledge to construct individual analysis
· Communicate findings and conclusions to others through various methods
· Follow institutional policies to acknowledge where the information originated from

Students can meet these skills by:

Research Exercises

Courses should promote the concept of research and focus on the research process as a means to understanding course content. A traditional research based term paper is one of the exercises that meet the RI designation. Other possible research focused exercises include:

· annotated bibliography
· research journal/log
· research paper outline
· literature review
· author tracking review
· identifying major journals
· comparison of internet/database searches
· poster presentation
· oral presentation
· journal/book/article review
· research trend analysis

Application of Resources Outside Course Material

Exams should include at least one essay question that requires students to write a paragraph or more to demonstrate information literacy and critical thinking skills (e.g., incorporating external sources, evaluating ideas, explaining concepts, synthesizing material, arguing a thesis, etc.) Though instructors are urged to incorporate an essay component on every exam, they may modify this component to meet particular exam needs.


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Research Paper Writing said...

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