Professors present project at American Chemical Society Meeting

August 30, 2005

SALINA, KAN. -- Two professors and two librarians at Kansas State University at Salina have teamed up to work on a project to teach students how to develop consistent ways to research and evaluate information.

Jung Oh, associate professor of chemistry, and Judith Collins, assistant professor of English, will give a presentation at the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C., Aug. 30. The presentation will highlight collaborative work on their information literacy instruction project.

Oh and Collins worked on the project with Beverlee Kissick, director of libraries, and Alysia Starkey, technical service/automation coordinator, both at the K-State at Salina library. Starkey is a graduate student in curriculum and instruction. The four have met regularly since 2002 to learn about information literacy instruction and to implement such instruction tailored to academic disciplines at K-State at Salina.

Information literacy is a set of skills and attitudes about information retrieval and use, including library instruction, computer skills, critical thinking, communication, ethics and lifelong learning. With this instruction, students identify the need for information, locate information, evaluate information and revise their search strategy and use and share information appropriately.

"The key point in information literacy instruction is to show students that not all of the information in the world is on Google and to tailor information literacy instruction to specific courses as students need to develop competence in learning," Oh said.

Information literacy instruction can be applied directly to university courses. The project has been introduced as part of pre-laboratory activity for the general chemistry laboratory course at K-State at Salina, Oh said. One example would be students doing a search on chemicals in consumer products to evaluate benefits and precautions.

Students also attend library sessions tailored to the chemistry field and review Web resource evaluation, database access and Web section guides.

Information literacy instruction also is taught in expository writing, technical writing and other K-State at Salina courses, Oh said. Students taking technical writing focus their learning on the knowledge economy, a post-industrial economy where growth is determined by knowledge production, distribution and use, Collins said.

Future plans for this project include continuing to expand the model of cooperation from chemistry to other curriculum and developing cross-institutional professional relationships with other faculty-librarian teams, Oh said.

Kansas State University

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