thing 1: Introduction to the Framework

Welcome to 23 Framework Things!  This is the first “thing.”  We’ll start out fairly basic on this one.  Start by reading the suggested article, take some time to think about it, and post your reaction below.  Enjoy!


Foasberg, N. M. (2015). From Standards to Frameworks for IL: How the ACRL Framework addresses critiques of the Standards. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 15(4), 699-717. [pre-print]


Please answer the following questions in the Comments section below, based on your attendance at the ARLD Day Pre-Conference Workshop “Let’s Build Together: Minnesota Librarians Implementing the ACRL Information Literacy Framework” on April 27, 2017:

For those that attended the ARLD Day Pre-Conference Workshop

You have already developed some understanding of the Framework during the ARLD Day Pre-Conference Workshop.  What did you take away from the workshop beyond the basics outlined in the Foasberg article?

For those that DID NOT attend the ARLD Day Pre-Conference Workshop

After reading Nancy Foasberg’s article, what knowledge did you gain about the Framework?  If the article was simply a refresher for you, in what ways does the Framework intrigue you as a basis for instruction?

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  1. Although I read this article over a year ago, in the rereading it became clearer the distinctions between the IL Standards and the Framework. Because the Standards were adopted and officially endorsed, they seem to be held in the highest regard, unlike the Framework that has merely been filed, ready to be changed at any time. The Framework has not replaced the Standards and at first pass this appears as a negative but the article clarified the difference in how they were created and how they are to be used.

    It seems the Standards, being skills-based, are more concrete, could be more of a check-list of definable behavior. They have been around long enough to have stood up to the practice of using them in our skills sessions, something we teach frequently in one-shot lessons. Yet we have evolved from just teaching skills but now are called to teach students to think critically about information that does and sometimes does not come from the standard sources. The Framework is a model itself in the way it was developed, through social interaction, in a way that information is evaluated today with weight and measure coming through different channels.

    I’m glad we now have both documents to assist in how we teach students to use information. Since I’ve been at this for 20+ years, it’s more of a gut feeling when I know it’s not just collecting a bunch of sources. Have I taught student well enough to go beyond collecting but also grappling with the information, digesting it, spitting out the unnecessary, and searching for what they don’t know they need? We need both the Standards and the Framework and now I understand the how and why just a bit better.


    • I believe the Framework had been filed at the time this article was written, but have since been officially adopted and the Standards rescinded.


  2. After reading the article, I see now why I like the Framework. It’s language and intent aligns more with my personal philosophy of librarianship and teaching. Encouraging students to think critically and interact more with research instead of checking off some boxes on a list just makes sense to me. I hadn’t previously made the connection that the Standards are playing to the banking method. The Framework feels like it gives us as librarians more freedom (and some would say challenges) in our creation of lessons for instruction sessions.

    I’d also be interested in seeing/hearing commentary from the author after ACRL has decided to retire the Standards. I think the Framework is a good direction for us pedagogically and socially, but I’m not sure how I feel about ACRL’s decision to let the Standards disappear.


  3. This article reinforces discussions we have been having at the U. I think the idea of threshold concepts really jives with what I see in the classroom. A skill can be mastered, but a concept has layers.. as soon as you understand it at an elementary level you are exposed to higher level thinking. The challenge that was expressed in the pre-conference and other meetings is how do we approach this when usually we just have 1 meeting with students. How do we off load beginning ideas in a flipped classroom model or reinforce concepts later. This is what I am still working through, as much of my instruction is still in this fashion.


  4. My colleagues and I embraced the frames. I have found that the frames allow me to be more creative in my lessons and assessments. My goal is no longer “follow me and do what I do,” but more along the lines of “let’s start a conversation about your topic.” And the frames seem to support team learning activities easier than the standards did. I teach developmental through bachelor classes and the frames encourage customization based on the wide range of students’ assignments and promote use of a wide variety of sources because “various communities may recognize different types of authority” (qtd. in Foasberg 709). In other words, an authority for a student enrolled in statistical applications in social sciences should look very different than an authority for a first year student.

    I am happy to be entering this conversation with y’all!


  5. I read the other comments and found I agree mostly with Robin. I have 30 + years of Reference and “information Literacy” and maybe I am just content to not fix something that was working for us but after reading about the Framework and trying to incorporate it into some of my “one shot “ classes I just about gave up. I see how they have value and offer more chance for deeper thinking but most of my students just got this puzzled look on their faces. Some of them really do need that 5 sources on little 3 by 5 cards instruction. What I decided to do was save the Framework for the few graduate classes I get to meet with. It did seem to go over better with them. I guess you just need to know your audience.


  6. I’ve been fortunate enough to have come into libraries along with the Framework – first, as it started making the rounds as a conversation, then as a draft, later as “filed,” and now as a more widely accepted reference for standard practice. Through my MLIS, I understood the Standards as a discrete sets of skills for the purposes of outcomes and assessment. I never thought they suggested that those skills as written were the entirety or complete picture of information literacy; they were merely points of reference. Unfortunately, I also came from education in the state of Florida – where I worked with the different standards for K-12 curricula; thus, I understood that, in an increasingly objective/ metric-centered/ data-centric culture, the breadth and nuance of knowledge would forgo context for the sake of checklists. Because of that I never appreciated the reasons for the backlash against and the controversy surrounding the Framework. After a few years as a college librarian, I finally understand it. It *is*, after all, very hard (if not practically impossible) to objectively measure learning of socially-constructed values that exist in myriad forms/formats in ever-shifting spaces (digital and fixed, tangible spaces). It is even more difficult to identify a spot along a fluid continuum as the ideal spot for assessing said skill(s) in a final, determined sense.

    I appreciate Foasberg setting the Standards and Framework side-by-side for definition and discussion. It is at once a great tool for me to learn as a librarian and for me to teach as a facilitator of faculty development and outreach. In my own courses/ presentations to faculty (some of which are my librarian colleagues), I present the Standards and Framework as companion pieces – following the lead of the ACRL as Foasberg observes. I appeal to the compatibility between the Framework’s threshold concepts and those of critical thinking. I think, for the time being, this is a useful way for me to make the connection between discrete IL skills for the purpose of designing learning outcomes and the overall competencies of “an information literate person.”


  7. Caveating this entire comment with the fact that I’m one year out of college and have not received/begun my MLS yet. I have no instruction role in my current library position and won’t any time soon, and this is the first time I’ve ever interacted with/read about these Standards/Framework. (Point being: I don’t know what I’m talking about.)

    I greatly appreciated the direct comparison/contrast between the Standards and the Framework given that this is the first time I’ve really encountered either.

    I’m excited about the Framework, in particular the way it encourages students to challenge and question authority and emphasizes the conversation/participatory aspect of research. How to teach students to do this for themselves, I haven’t the foggiest, but I found myself really agreeing with one of Robin Shapiro’s comments in an earlier post here, about the Standards being almost a precursor to moving into the Framework: “For me, the Standards were useful as a kind of interdisciplinary freshman context — in college, students need to determine appropriate scope (based on an assignment), fulfill the instructor’s requirements in terms of source type and number, incorporate the ideas of others (i.e. sources) within a clear line of argument (in other words, move from patchwriting to writing with sources), and distinguish between their own words and ideas and the words and ideas they’ve sourced from others. As students grow in their skills and in their disciplinary knowledge, the Framework becomes a more appropriate lens for information literacy.” I do think the Framework’s goals seem to require some sort of fundamental skill set in students before being able to engage with information in the more social/active way.

    Another aspect of the Foasberg article I really enjoyed was this concept of students being novices/experts in information literacy rather than information literate or illiterate. Having a multi-dimensional scale rather than a have-it-or-you-don’t skill set paves the way for more meaningful and engaging research on the student front. Although, it also seems like it might make teaching large classes more difficult for librarians – the Framework seems to apply more on an individual scale than “here’s a set of techniques we can teach a bunch of people at once.” A common comment here seems to be how to achieve this in one-off information sessions, or even multiple sessions – perhaps much of the Framework will end up being taught in one-on-one consultations outside of group instruction sessions? Working one-on-one with faculty to promote the Framework in their courses?


  8. I gained several takeaways from the ARLD Day Pre-Conference Workshop:

    – One strategy we might use going forward is to align our work more closely with the institutional learning goals that have already been adopted. These goals provide an entry point for conversations about information literacy skills.

    – Understanding the learning theories behind the development of the Framework was very useful for thinking about the future of library instruction. Teaching for transfer is something that I plan to give renewed attention next year in my own teaching and in training for embedded research tutors (a new position). I also appreciated the reminder that backward design is a well-researched method of instruction planning that can help when deciding what and how to teach.

    – I really appreciated learning about the assessment research conducted at UMD. Choosing one facet of student research (in this case, persistence) seems like a manageable way to begin measuring whether/how students are developing as experts. I plan to encourage faculty to assign research process blogs, especially in first-year writing classes.

    The workshop and Foasberg’s article have together reinforced for me the idea that what we might actually need is to blow up the model of one-shot instruction. If we agree that the Framework should guide our work, then I just don’t see how the one- (or even two- or three-) shot model can be relied on to accomplish our goals.


  9. I benefited from the close comparison and contrast between the Standards and the Framework. While I am still figuring out how to incorporate the Framework in my own instruction, I like to call out the concepts that even beginning students are participants in the conversation that scholarship enables, and that research and the products of student research are a process. I do think the Framework offers more flexibility, but also opens the world of research and scholarship to students as participants, not just consumers, as Foasberg points out. I think the shift from the notions of authority as defined in the Standards to the way it is conceptualized in the Framework as something constructed by discursive communities is significant and worth discussion in classrooms and other types of instructional settings, in light of increasing division between real-world communities and their preferred information sources. Foasberg’s discussion highlights to me how the Framework not only invites but requires thoughtful discussion and exploration of all of these notions of socially constructed authority and value, and allows for the ongoing re-creation of new information contexts by its engagement.

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  10. I’m a mid-career librarian, with nearly 20 years of instruction experience, and this article illuminated why I’m having a hard time putting the Framework into practice. When I used the Standards, I certainly taught research as a messy, nonlinear process — anything else would be dishonest and likely to undermine students’ confidence when their experiences don’t match their expectations. I focused on evaluating sources in terms of the information need or discipline, not by some arbitrary standard. The Performance Indicators made sense to me, and my department used them as a jumping-off place for our assessment. I primarily teach one-shots (or two- or three-shots, depending on the class and instructor) and I’m at a community college. And that may be the source of my difficulty with the Framework.

    The Framework asserts, accurately I believe, that you can’t fully understand academic information outside of its disciplinary context. And yet, at the community college we’re mostly offering one-shots to students who aren’t sure what discipline they’re moving toward; even those who know they’re pre-nursing or transferring to a k-12 ed program don’t have experience within the discipline yet. They’re in the library classroom with a college reading class, or a freshman comp class, or maybe a gen ed sociology or history or biology class. What disciplinary context can we adopt? More specifically, what disciplinary context can we adopt swiftly enough to support an effective 50- or 80-minute one-shot and make it useful to students?

    For me, the Standards were useful as a kind of interdisciplinary freshman context — in college, students need to determine appropriate scope (based on an assignment), fulfill the instructor’s requirements in terms of source type and number, incorporate the ideas of others (i.e. sources) within a clear line of argument (in other words, move from patchwriting to writing with sources), and distinguish between their own words and ideas and the words and ideas they’ve sourced from others. As students grow in their skills and in their disciplinary knowledge, the Framework becomes a more appropriate lens for information literacy.

    I’m hoping that engaging with the Framework through this project will help me learn to use it with the students I see.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. After reading Foasberg’s article, the primary way that the Framework intrigues me as a basis for instruction is its provision of (what I regard as) a more realistic conception of the research process. As Foasberg writes, “Research in the Framework is a messy, ‘nonlinear and iterative’ process rather than a single, prescriptive set of steps,” (711). In my experience working primarily with first year students, there seems to be a general perception that research should be a step-by-step – find your required 3-5 sources and plug them in – process, which can create frustration for students when the process doesn’t seem to be working “right.” While the Standards don’t *have to* reinforce that perception, I believe they can fit more comfortably alongside it than can the Framework. In emphasizing concepts like conversation and exploration, I believe the Framework can be more empowering to students, placing them as participants and creators, rather than simply the consumers of information products as Foasberg describes them under the Standards. (Having read several of the discussions on Standards vs. Framework in the ACRLFrame listserv, I want to note that I don’t believe this to mean that all Standards-based instruction was mechanical and inauthentic, just that I believe the Framework more specifically and pointedly avoids those outcomes.)

    I was also happy to see Foasberg discuss the problematic connotations inherent in the term Information Literacy – namely that it suggests that those who aren’t information literate must be information illiterate. For this reason, I hate (and avoid at all costs) using the term Information Literacy in any student-facing context.

    In my personal practice, I find the Framework more flexible than I imagine the Standards to be (I just finished my second year of instruction responsibilities, and I’ve never worked with the standards). My institution is still firmly on the faculty-requested one shot model, and I like the ability that the Framework provides me to be able to take the instructor’s request, match it to 1-3 Framework concepts, and build a lesson around that.


  12. After reading the article, I better understand the philosophy behind it. Especially interesting were parts discussing students’ ways of researching including bringing their existing skill set to research and then learning and incorporating appropriate new ways of researching.

    As I learn more about the Framework, I’ll also be interested to look at it from an angle mentioned in the article: what we can do to improve our practice. The practical applications of this philosophy will still be essential to understand in our teaching and learning.



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