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In response to a college required programme review, the Portland Community College Library undertook a case study of its information literacy (IL) programme in order to understand and illustrate clearly how the programme addressed levels of IL competencies throughout the curriculum. Content and qualitative analysis were used in reviewing curriculum documents to identify emergent patterns of IL skills and concepts within the college disciplines and certificate programmes. Analysis of the college’s course outcomes revealed distinct differences as well as trends across the curriculum for faculty expectations of information conceptualisation, information seeking strategies and research methods. Following this analysis, a Research Support Framework was devised as a template for guiding lower division undergraduate students’ progression through several cognitive domains of IL. Course Specific Research Support Forms were created to map, in specific detail, how library instructional objectives match up with individual course outcomes as well as with the college core outcomes. Combining a critical thinking taxonomy with a continuum of skills, progressing from pre-college level readiness towards academic literacy, generated a developmental approach to IL instruction. This also illustrated the necessary preliminary steps for students’ progression and knowledge gaps which may frequently arise and must be resolved before further progression is possible. Discussions between librarians and content faculty are now supported with a much more precise view of what is developmentally appropriate IL instruction for particular courses. The framework is especially applicable to students in their first two years of college. The unique situation of American community colleges means that first-year seminars are not usually possible, and the curriculum can often be as much vocational as academic. This versatile and developmental approach to IL instruction ensures the embedding of IL throughout the curriculum, providing students various and cumulative learning experiences. It will also encourage leading discussions with four-year colleges about alignment and realistic IL targets for students who intend to transfer for completion of their baccalaureate degrees.
This article is based on a paper presented at LILAC 2013.