Saturday, June 26, 2004

Teaching Information Skills in the Information Age: the Need for Critical Thinking This article is by John J. Doherty, Mary Anne Hansen, and Kathryn K. Kaya. It was published in Library Philosophy and Practice Vol. 1, No. 2 (Spring 1999).

From the article:

A recent report by the Boyer Commission on undergraduate education concluded that universities have too often failed, and continue to fail, their undergraduate populations [1]. Students are graduating without some of the basic skills they need to function in the professional world, such as knowing how to think logically, write clearly, or speak coherently. Thousands of students, they note, graduate without having tasted the basics of research [2]. The report challenges universities to rethink their traditional instructional models, to move to a model of inquiry-based learning wherein the student is involved in research from the beginning. Everyone (faculty and student) involved in the teaching-learning experience should recognize that they are both discoverers of knowledge and learners:

The skills of analysis, evaluation, and synthesis will become the hallmarks of a good education, just as absorption of knowledge once was. [3]
In the current educational climate such a model is highly attractive in meeting the faculty's need for research and the student's need for good teaching and learning. As librarians know well, however, research is a much more difficult process due to the proliferation of information. In discussing his vision of the future, Daniel Bell noted that:

In the coming century, the emergence of a new social framework of telecommunications may be decisive for the way in which economic and social exchanges are conducted, the way knowledge is created and retrieved. [4]

When Bell first promulgated this vision of the post-industrial society, or the information age as we now call it, ARPANET, the progenitor of the Internet, was still in the secretive hands of the military. He notes that his vision would be a total break with the past, as there would be "a changeover from a goods-producing society to an information or knowledge society" [5]. The key to this emerging new era, he adds, is the combination of computer and telecommunications technology, which is something we now see with the Information Superhighway of the Internet.

No comments: