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Information Literacy: Reflections on How the Brain Learns to Think Critically Tami Robinson Whitworth University We Are Going to Draw From Information Literacy (Library Instruction) Critical Thinking Neurobiology of the Brain Content Area Literacy

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Information literacy reflections on how the brain learns to think critically l.jpg

Information Literacy: Reflections on How the Brain Learns to Think Critically

Tami Robinson

Whitworth University


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We Are Going to Draw From Think Critically

Information Literacy

(Library Instruction)

Critical Thinking

Neurobiology

of the Brain

Content Area Literacy

(Expert Reading)


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Mission of Higher Education Think Critically

  • Develop lifelong learners

  • Develop individuals’ intellectual abilities of reasoning & critical thinking

  • Develop foundation for an informed citizenry & community engagement


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Faculty Expectations Think Critically

  • 99.6% indicate critical thinking skills are very important

  • 97.2% say helping students learn to evaluate quality & reliability of information is an important goal

    2007-2008 HERI Faculty Survey


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Academic Libraries & Critical Thinking Think Critically

  • Goal is to support the curriculum

  • Encourage students to think critically about search process for information

  • Teach critical thinking to enable intellectual inquiry

  • Provide diversity of viewpoints to reinforce critical thinking


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Information Literacy Think Critically

  • Ability to locate, evaluate, use information effectively

  • Key component that forms basis of lifelong learning

  • Enables learners to master content, extend research

  • Enables participation in intellectual inquiry

  • Intellectual framework that requires critical thinking


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Critical Thinking & Information Literacy Think Critically

  • Fundamental for formulating research strategies well

  • Essential for evaluating information sources

  • Using critical judgment hinges on critical thinking

  • Necessary for becoming contributing members of society


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Critical Thinking Think Critically

  • Lifelong learning requires Critical Thinking & Information Literacy

  • Information Literacy requires Critical Thinking

  • Strong correlation between Critical Thinking & Reading Comprehension


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The Brain Learns to Read Think Critically



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Recent Brain Research Think Critically

  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows various areas of brain work together

  • Each part of brain can only do one thing at a time

  • Multiple parts of brain can work simultaneously (multitask)

  • Position emission tomography (PET) scans show brain stores related words together

  • Neural pathways form as brain learns to read


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The Brain Reads Think Critically

  • While language is natural, reading is not

  • Reading doesn’t just happen -neural pathways are created as brain becomes proficient at reading

  • Text comprehension occurs when frontal lobe derives meaning by processing visual & auditory input from reader’s prior knowledge

  • Neuroscience shows prefrontal cortex not fully developed in teens


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Proficient Readers Think Critically


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Reading Fluency & Critical Thinking Think Critically

  • Automaticity is when the brain stops thinking about process of reading, and does it automatically

  • When automaticity is gained, the brain frees itself to learn critical thinking skills

  • Critical thinking cannot be learned if automaticity is not achieved


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SELF-REGULATION - Reflection, metacognition Think CriticallySame cognitive skills are used for Strategic Reading as for Critical Thinking


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Critical Thinking & Information Literacy Think Critically

  • A higher level thinking skill essential in Information Literacy

  • Fundamental for formulating research strategies well

  • Essential for evaluating information sources

  • Used by expert readers & metacognitively adept learners


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Is Library Instruction Working? Think Critically

Students seem unable to

  • develop good research strategies

  • critically evaluate sources

  • focus attention on sources

  • comprehend & integrate information

    Are you seeing this too?


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Students & Research Think Critically

  • Find conducting research particularly challenging

  • Over 80% procrastinate

  • Cannot formulate research question, strategy or find resources they want

  • Cannot comprehend sources they do find

  • Lose focus & change direction frequently


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Students & Reading Think Critically

  • By middle school, majority are skillful in mechanics of reading, but not strategic in ability to explore and interpret meaning

  • As younger Americans read less they read less well

  • 15-24 year olds spend only 7-10 minutes/day on voluntary reading; 2 to 2.5 hours/day watching TV

  • Only 35% high school seniors read proficiently


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College Students & Reading Think Critically

  • Daily reading correlates with higher reading skills & academic achievement

  • College attendance no longer guarantees active reading habits

  • 65% read less than 1 hour/day or not at all

  • Graduates’ reading ability & the habit of reading have greatly declined

  • They have developed reading fluency but not automaticity

    To Read or Not To Read


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Our Students are Digital Natives Think Critically

  • 58% middle and high school students read while using other media

  • Do not care about information quality, accuracy or veracity

  • Base evaluation of online information on personal preferences

  • consider what is convenient to be good enough

  • Internet’s seduction subsumes other intellectual technologies – result is it scatters our attention & diffuses our concentration


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Obstacles of Student Researchers Think Critically

  • If don’t receive immediate gratification, give up

  • Often refuse print sources

  • Scan short passages of text from many sources online

  • Have short, fragmented, distracted attention span

  • Overwhelmed by stimuli from multitasking, media, hypertext

  • View all information as equal


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Attention Span & Distraction Think Critically

  • Attention is like the needle that stitches neurologic patterns in the brain

  • Attention skills are squandered in realm of media & online

  • In contemporary society we cultivate lives of distraction, scattered focus

  • Reading without focus & concentration amounts to only decoding bits & pieces


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Critical Questions Think Critically

  • Without sustained attention spans, practiced daily, expert reading is not attained

  • Without the habit of daily reading the reading brain does not gain automaticity

  • Without automaticity the brain cannot learn critical thinking skills

  • If the brain cannot learn critical thinking skills, how can it learn information literacy?

  • Is there anything that librarians can do?


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