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Information Literacy Instruction: Frameworks, Pedagogies, and Practices (July 2020): Learner-Centered Pedagogy and Critical Pedagogy

Learner-Centered Pedagogy and Critical Pedagogy

Although the vast majority of recent books on information literacy instruction have focused on how threshold concepts and the ACRL Framework are informing instruction today and how these conceptual approaches can be applied to real-life classroom situations, other important trends shaping information literacy instruction in the twenty-first century are also coming to the attention of scholars. Particularly significant among these trends is a movement toward learner-centered pedagogy—the notion that students learn better and retain more when instructors treat their students as people at the center of the learning experience. In Learner-Centered Pedagogy: Principles and Practices, Kevin Michael Klipfel and Dani Brecher Cook make a convincing case for the application of this pedagogical approach to information literacy instruction. In addition to outlining the foundations and history of learner-centered pedagogies, the authors provide suggestions for information literacy instruction sessions guided by learner-centered principles. Addressing the variety of learners in higher education today and the different ways they interact with educational resources, Engaging Diverse Learners: Teaching Strategies for Academic Librarians, by Mark Aaron Polger and Scott Sheidlower, also puts the learner at the center of information literacy instruction. Polger is noted for his contributions to the field of library marketing, and Engaging Diverse Learners can be seen as another facet of “marketing” library services—attracting and holding the attention of students during library instruction.

Thinking about who learners are as people is also evident in Alex Berrio Matamoros’s Information Literacy for Today’s Diverse Students: Differentiated Instructional Techniques for Academic Librarians and Meredith Powers and Laura Costello’s Reaching Diverse Learners with Virtual Reference and Instruction: A Practical Guide for Librarians. Both these books invoke the ACRL Framework in their discussions of information literacy instruction, and both focus on the need to pay attention to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in instructional design.

Themes of equity, diversity, and inclusion are also apparent in recent work on critical pedagogy geared toward instruction librarians. Of particular note is the two-volume Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook, edited by Nicole Pagowsky and Kelly McElroy. This set brings a critical lens to the constructed nature of information organization and sheds light on the politics of both information and education, bringing new perspectives and suggestions for learning activities to information literacy instruction. By revealing the power structures inherent in guiding documents and standards such as the Framework, this set complicates how practitioners understand their discipline and its effects on learners. Though it does not supply lesson plans, Critical Literacy for Information Professionals, edited by Sarah McNicol, discusses how critical pedagogy can be applied to information literacy instruction and suggests how librarians can examine their own instructional practices with a critical lens. Critical Approaches to Credit-Bearing Information Literacy Courses, edited by Angela Pashia and Jessica Critten, advocates for critical information literacy in credit-bearing courses and discusses how critical information literacy can inform Framework-driven lesson plans.