Monday, April 09, 2007

Revisiting: Pedagogical Approaches for Promoting Critical Thinking in Information Literacy, Technological Literacy and Information Technology

The terms information literacy, computer literacy, media literacy and technological literacy have some distinct implications for teaching and learning. While some may view these terms in a very limiting fashion, they can be broadly defined to include the abilities to “access, evaluate, and use” information (Doyle, 1992, p. 2). Doyle’s definition of information literacy identifies, in addition to other aspects, individuals “who … [use] information in critical thinking and problem solving” (Doyle, 1992, p. 2). It is the use of, or the application of information in a particular pedagogical approach that should be a goal in promoting information literacy. Thinking of the end result, promoting critical thinking, information literacy is the ability to discern quality, computer literacy is the ability to become efficient and each type of literacy must be developed to develop critical thinking (Kasowitz-Scheer and Pasqualoni, 2002).

Literacy is much more than skills taught, received or developed within an academic setting. It can be said that information literacy can contribute to “a productive, full, and satisfying life” (U. S. Department of Labor, 1991, p. i). Without an acceptable degree of information literacy and technological literacy, individuals who are seeking employment or advancement may be limited in their array of choices.

The pedagogical approaches to enhancing, improving and integrating information literacy both across the curriculum and into discipline specific curriculum include “the realms of critical thinking and ethical usage of information” (Spitzer, Eisenberg and Lowe, 1998, p. 26). Blending traditional curricular approaches of reading, writing and speaking with critical thinking should become the rule, if we are to view information literacy as an inclusive, rather than exclusive perspective (Doyle, 1994). This integration produces students who are competent and prepared to not only enter the workforce, but also succeed as a part of the workforce.

In the case of information literacy, it is more than keyboarding, composing, surfing and viewing. These skills, when developed, “enable the construction of higher orders of meaning, nuance, and inference” (Daley, 2003, p. 36). Through developing information literacy, we are beginning a journey. We choose to make the journey and want to experience all that we can along the way. The approach to literacy is based, in no small part, on the desires, needs and perceptions of the end user. Whatever approach we take, we know that we must become literate. The approaches need to be flexible and include “other literacies: visual, media, computer, network, and, of course, basic literacy” (Spitzer, Eisenberg and Lowe, 1998, p. 26).

Technological literacy becomes a subset of information literacy. An individual who becomes information literate will, from necessity, become technologically literate (American Libraries Association, 2000). Technology becomes a means to an ends: through the use of technology, one can become information literate much easier and quicker because of the mere presence and availability of technology. Education should focus on enhancing critical thinking skills. Technological literacy will produce a greater sense of information literacy. Information literacy, when refined, produces critical thinking. We should focus less on requiring critical thinking skills, and more on acquiring critical thinking skills (Kurfiss, 1988). Once students understand the process of critical thinking, and we provide them instructional opportunities to develop their skills then, and only then, will they begin to understand critical thinking.

American Libraries Association. (2000). Information literacy competency standards for higher education. Chicago, IL: Association of College and Research Libraries. Retrieved April 9, 2007 from

Daley, E. (2003). Expanding the concept of literacy. Educause Review 38(2), 32-40. Retrieved April 3, 2007 from

Doyle, C. (1992). Outcome measures for information literacy within the national education goals of 1990: Final report to national forum on information literacy: Summary of findings. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No.: ED351033). Retrieved April 2, 2007 from

Doyle, C. (1994). Information literacy in an information society: A concept for the digital age. Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No.: ED372763). Retrieved April 2, 2007 from

Kasowitz-Scheer, A., & Pasqualoni, M. (2002). Information literacy instruction in higher education: Trends and Issues. Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No.: ED465375). Retrieved April 9, 2007 from

Kurfiss, J. (1988). Critical thinking: Theory, research, practice, and possibilities. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 2. Washington, DC: Association for the Study of Higher Education.

Spitzer, K., Eisenberg, M., & Lowe, C. (1998). Information literacy: Essential skills for the information age. Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No.: ED427780). Retrieved April 2, 2007 from

U. S. Department of Labor (1991). What work requires of schools: A scans report for America 2000: The secretary’s commission on achieving necessary skills. Washington, DC: U. S. Department of Labor. Retrieved April 9, 2007 from

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