The Faculty Angle: What our Faculty Think about the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards

By Shelley Gullikson (Mount Allison University)


An interesting session in which Gullikson describes a survey she’s done to determine how important faculty members rank the various ACRL IL outcomes. She also talks about the disciplinary differences in the rankings and the recent emergence of discipline-based standards.

The survey questions, for each of the 87 outcomes:

  • How important is it for your students to have this skill (1-5)
  • At what level do you expect your students to have this skill (high school … post grad)

Gullikson did this survey in winter 2004 at Mt Allison University, where she received a 21% return rate. In winter 2005 she did the survey for another bunch of universities in the Atlantic Canada region, splitting the survey into 2. This iteration got a 17% return rate. The demographics were femalerespondents a little higher, also a good variety of teaching experience. Split between Arts/Sci/ SocSci/Professional, with professional not giving enough responses for a breakdown. Overall, the data was very encouraging. Faculty are interested in their students being more information literate.

The number 1 ranked item was the “do not plagiarise” standard, all 5 ACRL standards groups were represented in the overall ranked top 10, of the top 30 only 2 from standard 2, ie. traditional library skills, 3 of top 10 are plagiarism or citation oriented. The lowest is netiquette, and all 5 standards are represented in the bottom 10, with standard 4 the most represented. Fewer differences across disciplines in the bottom group. In terms of the academic level profs expect their students to pick up the skills, most expected in 1st year indicating that our traditional library expectation that it’s best to get them early, but does not mesh with idea that IL needs to be integrated in the curriculum and delivered gradually. The top librarian responsible items are seen as important. The opportunity for curriculum integration are in those standards where profs indicated that they would expect students to get them in 2nd or 3rd year.

Some discipline-specific information: the highest importance for arts: reads texts & selects main ideas; selects info that provides evidence; communicates clearly, understands plagiarism. Highest for science: plagiarism; restates textual information & selects data accurately; records citation information. Social sci: plagiarism the most importance. We need toidentify what’s important t a particular discipline and act accordingly when we market IL to profs.

The trend towards discipline-specific standards. Gullikson noted that of the new standards many dropped old outcomes, combined them, added new ones. Science/Engineering/Tech: 76 included, 11 excluded, 29 added, some combined for a total of 104. Anthropology/Sociology: 63 included, 24 excluded, 8 new for 48 total. Literature in English: 18 included, 69 excluded, 5 new fro 29 total. There were lots of English-specific outcomes, such as peer review, popular vs. scholarly, texts exist in various editions. Of the three, the Scitech one had the most standards that made it from the original list to the discipline standard. The question is, should we continue to look at adding more discipline-specific standards. Many thought that discipline-specific standards give credibility to our efforts when trying to get faculty on board.

Note that there is an article version of this presentation, with many of the graphs and stats from the presentation:

Gullikson, Shelley. “Faculty perceptions of ACRL’s information literacy competency standards for higher education.” Journal of Academic Librarianship. 32 (Nov 2006): 583-592.

Posted by John Dupuis.

 Update 2007.05.23: corrected institution name per comment.


2 responses to “The Faculty Angle: What our Faculty Think about the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards

  1. Wow John, you really took notes! Thanks for the great summary.

    One small thing (I think it was wrong on the WILU site too) — I’m at Mount Allison, not Mount Saint Allison. I know people get MtA and Mount Saint Vincent confused, and I guess they got conflated.

  2. Shelley, Sorry about that. I actually started with the right name and only switched it after checking the web page.


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