(This is the summery of my poster presentation given in the SMCSE PhD Symposium of the City, University of London 2018)
The term ‘information literacy’ was first introduced by Paul G. Zurkowski (1974) as the skills and techniques that help to make enabled to utilize “a wide range of information tools as well as primary sources”. But, nowadays the concept of information literacy is not confined of knowing when and why we need information, where to find and how to evaluate it, but of making balance judgment, critical thinking, and using and communicating it in an ethical manner (CILIP, 2018). Beside that different professional bodies and researchers have been working on it to explore and develop the concept as well as expand the scope of it through including numerous aspects and definitions, standards, models, frameworks, best practices, and declarations into it (CILIP, 2018; ACRL, 2016; UNESCO, 2014; SCONUL, 2011). Since the concept of IL was initially developed in North America and Western Europe, mainly in the English language, it did not consider cultural diversity factor primarily. Though information literacy is a very important subject in the present world, but its effectiveness is largely dependent upon the area it covers. Such information literacy instruction that fails to cover all people of the entire society cannot be very effective in this era of technological advancement. Multiculturism is a common reality in the current world and all major communities or countries uphold multiculturism in their society now. Besides, people move around the world for different purposes more than ever and students also do that all the time. It is common that the international students face various types of obstacles when they go to study in abroad but there were very limited efforts made to identify and resolve those challenges. So, the existing models, frameworks, and standards of IL must be revised by addressing the difficulties faced by the international students due to their cultural and linguistic differences.
Considering the challenges of international students, based on critical analysis of the relevant literature and understanding of existing models as a guidance, an initiative has been taken to develop a conceptual model of multicultural information literacy. As a part of wider study on multiculturalism in information literacy, this model presents with initial works showing the commonly proposed features of multicultural information literacy based on ideas gathered from multicultural education model (Banks, 2010), concept of good practices and other relevant literatures in this area which promote collaborative, modified, customised, flexible, and holistic approaches.
This model aims to help in understanding international students’ needs, their values, and experiences as well as to assist the librarians to provide better information literacy instructions for this culturally diverse society. It also focusses on designing a sustainable, student-centered, flexible, collaborative library instruction as well as follow the pedagogy based on the equity. It is believed that this model will promote cognitive information literacy through prioritizing students’ needs and by making effort to understand, investigate and determine their individual perspectives to support them with appropriate resources.
This model recommends that the students should be helped out to understand, investigate and determine how the culture, language, age, gender etc. factors are relevant in constructing knowledge. Moreover, international students might be facilitated with specially designed library instruction which is suitable for them and be taught by their familiar tutors in a friendly environment to minimize their level of anxiety. Furthermore, students’ preferences might be taken into account so that every student can be treated as per their individual needs. A user-friendly guidance with detailed step by step instructions could be put in place for better understanding for the students. Besides, multicultural instruction promotes sustainability through lifelong learning, by including all levels and groups of students and building competent instructors having updated knowledge of resources and library concepts. Accordingly, consideration of the values and experiences of the students and providing them guidelines based on good practice is crucial. Finally, the pedagogy ought to be based on the equity so that the multicultural students can have benefit from this and the instruction itself might be flexible and collaborative in nature where contents would reflect cultural diversity.
This model is in a very initial stage containing mostly necessary elements those are required for multicultural information literacy. The model might be upgraded to a more comprehensive one by incorporating more thoughts and ideas to provide better information literacy instruction to international students. However, this initiative may contribute towards exploring the multiculturism as a new dimension of the concept of information literacy.
ACRL (2016). Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. (Online) Available at: http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/issues/infolit/Framework_ILHE.pdfAccessed 20 June 2018).
Banks, J. A. (2010). Multicultural Education: Characteristics and Goals. In J. A. Banks & C. A. M. Banks, (Eds.). Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives (7th ed). NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
CILIP (2018). CILIP definition of information literacy 2018, CILIP Information Literacy Group, (Online) Available at https://infolit.org.uk/ILdefinitionCILIP2018.pdf, (Accessed 16 June 2018).
SCONUL (2011). The SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy: Core Model for Higher Education. (Online) Available at: https://www.sconul.ac.uk/sites/default/files/documents/coremodel.pdf(Accessed 16 June 2018).
UNESCO (2014). Paris Declaration calls for renewed emphasis on Media and Information Literacy in the Digital Age. (Online) Available at: http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CI/CI/pdf/news/paris_mil_declaration.pdf (Accessed 17 June 2018).
Zurkowski, P. G. (1974). The information service environment: Relationships and priorities. Washington, DC: National Commission on Libraries and Information Science.