Librarians as Action Researchers: A Practical Framework for Evidence-Based Information Literacy Instruction
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This presentation proposes a framework for evidence-based practice for instructional librarianship drawn from discourse in education regarding the role of evidence in professional practice. We propose a framework for librarians to conceive of themselves as "action researchers": professional practitioners who (1) adhere to the best available evidence about teaching and learning; (2) methodologically test their assumptions about their practice by conducting research in their local environments; and (3) apply these learnings in their own research and instruction practices. This definition differs from the current library literature on evidence-based practice in two main ways: it provides librarians with an established theoretical framework for becoming evidence-based instructors in practice and it elevates data about student learning, rather than professional intuition or faculty perceptions, as the driving force behind our decision making as teacher-librarians.
We will next discuss the major practical benefits of this framework. First, it offers librarians a practical model that can be used to professionalize their teaching. Second, this increased professionalization as educators can help librarians more successfully meet the institutional priorities of higher education, the facilitation and assessment of student learning on campus. Lastly, by seriously engaging with the craft of teaching, teacher-librarians are better equipped to become genuine co-collaborators with faculty across campus.
The implications of this shift in professional ethos may be considerable; such paradigm shifts do not often occur within a community of practice quickly or without some resistance. Consequently, we will conclude our talk by noting potential challenges and offering concrete recommendations for success for instruction librarians and library leaders seeking to foster an evidence-based community of practice in their own libraries.