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Critical Thinking in Information Literacy Instruction

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Jo Staggs-Neel

on 28 April 2010

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Transcript of Critical Thinking in Information Literacy Instruction

Info Literacy Abilities as Defined by ACRL
Determine the nature and extent of the information needed.
Access needed information effectively and efficiently.
Evaluate information and its sources critically.
Incorporate selected information into one's knowledge base.
Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.
Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and access and use information ethically and legally. Universal Intellectual Standards as developed by Linda Elder and Richard Paul 1.CLARITY: Could you elaborate further on that point? Could you express that point in another way? Could you give me an illustration? Could you give me an example? Clarity is the gateway standard. If a statement is unclear, we cannot determine whether it is accurate or relevant. In fact, we cannot tell anything about it because we don't yet know what it is saying. For example, the question, "What can be done about the education system in America?" is unclear. In order to address the question adequately, we would need to have a clearer understanding of what the person asking the question is considering the "problem" to be. A clearer question might be "What can educators do to ensure that students learn the skills and abilities which help them function successfully on the job and in their daily decision-making?"

2.ACCURACY: Is that really true? How could we check that? How could we find out if that is true?
A statement can be clear but not accurate, as in "Most dogs are over 300 pounds in weight."

3.PRECISION: Could you give more details? Could you be more specific?
A statement can be both clear and accurate, but not precise, as in "Jack is overweight." (We don’’t know how overweight Jack is, one pound or 500 pounds.)

4.RELEVANCE: How is that connected to the question? How does that bear on the issue?
A statement can be clear, accurate, and precise, but not relevant to the question at issue. For example, students often think that the amount of effort they put into a course should be used in raising their grade in a course. Often, however, the "effort" does not measure the quality of student learning; and when this is so, effort is irrelevant to their appropriate grade.

5.DEPTH: How does your answer address the complexities in the question? How are you taking into account the problems in the question? Is that dealing with the most significant factors? A statement can be clear, accurate, precise, and relevant, but superficial (that is, lack depth). For example, the statement, "Just say No!" which is often used to discourage children and teens from using drugs, is clear, accurate, precise, and relevant. Nevertheless, it lacks depth because it treats an extremely complex issue, the pervasive problem of drug use among young people, superficially. It fails to deal with the complexities of the issue.

6.BREADTH: Do we need to consider another point of view? Is there another way to look at this question? What would this look like from a conservative standpoint? What would this look like from the point of view of . . .? A line of reasoning may be clear accurate, precise, relevant, and deep, but lack breadth (as in an argument from either the conservative or liberal standpoint which gets deeply into an issue, but only recognizes the insights of one side of the question.)

7.LOGIC: Does this really make sense? Does that follow from what you said? How does that follow? But before you implied this, and now you are saying that; how can both be true? When we think, we bring a variety of thoughts together into some order. When the combination of thoughts are mutually supporting and make sense in combination, the thinking is "logical." When the combination is not mutually supporting, is contradictory in some sense or does not "make sense," the combination is not logical.

Edward De Bono (author of Lateral Thinking) -
The majority of mistakes in ordinary thinking (outside technical matters) are mistakes in perception. Our traditional emphasis on logic does little for perception. If the perception is inadequate no amount of excellence in logic will make up for that deficiency.

Perception is a matter of directing attention. If you are not looking in the right direction it does not matter how clever you are, you will not see what you need to see. More from Richard Paul and Linda Elder Thinking can get us into trouble when we:
jump to conclusions
fail to think-through implications
are unrealistic
focus on the trivial
accept inaccurate information
fail to notice our assumptions
ignore relevant viewpoints
are unaware of our prejudices
think one-sidedly
fail to notice the inferrences we make
ignore information that does not jutify our view
answer questions we are not competent to answer

The basics must be learned so well that they become second nature.
paying attention means staying focused on one thing at a time.
delaying gratification is important.
rote memorization is necessary in education.
forgetting is a problem.
intelligence is knowing "what's out there."
there are right and wrong answers.

Ellen Langer's seven myths that undermine learning Elements of Minduflness - from Ellen Langer Openness to Novelty
Alertness to Distinction
sensitivity to different contexts
implicit, if not explicit, awareness of multiple perspectives
orientation in the present
Sources ACRL - Association of College and Research Libraries (2000).
Information literacy competency standards for higher education.
Retrieved from www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/standards/informationliteracycompetency.cfm

Edward De Bono's authorized Web Site (2010). Retrieved from
Langer, E. J. (1989). Mindfulness. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Langer, E. J. (1997). The power of mindful learning. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Langer, E. J. (2009). Counter clockwise: mindful health and the power of possibility. New York: Ballantine Books.

Paul, R. and Elder, L. (1996) Universal intellectual standards. Retrieved from www.criticalthinking.org

Critical Thinking IN information Literacy Instruction
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