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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

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

Tami Robinson

Whitworth University

we are going to draw from
We Are Going to Draw From

Information Literacy

(Library Instruction)

Critical Thinking

Neurobiology

of the Brain

Content Area Literacy

(Expert Reading)

mission of higher education
Mission of Higher Education
  • Develop lifelong learners
  • Develop individuals’ intellectual abilities of reasoning & critical thinking
  • Develop foundation for an informed citizenry & community engagement
faculty expectations
Faculty Expectations
  • 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

academic libraries critical thinking
Academic Libraries & Critical Thinking
  • 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
information literacy
Information Literacy
  • 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
critical thinking information literacy
Critical Thinking & Information Literacy
  • 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
critical thinking
Critical Thinking
  • Lifelong learning requires Critical Thinking & Information Literacy
  • Information Literacy requires Critical Thinking
  • Strong correlation between Critical Thinking & Reading Comprehension
recent brain research
Recent Brain Research
  • 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
the brain reads
The Brain Reads
  • 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
reading fluency critical thinking
Reading Fluency & Critical Thinking
  • 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
slide15
SELF-REGULATION - Reflection, metacognitionSame cognitive skills are used for Strategic Reading as for Critical Thinking
critical thinking information literacy16
Critical Thinking & Information Literacy
  • 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
is library instruction working
Is Library Instruction Working?

Students seem unable to

  • develop good research strategies
  • critically evaluate sources
  • focus attention on sources
  • comprehend & integrate information

Are you seeing this too?

students research
Students & Research
  • 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
students reading
Students & Reading
  • 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
college students reading
College Students & Reading
  • 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

our students are digital natives
Our Students are Digital Natives
  • 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
obstacles of student researchers
Obstacles of Student Researchers
  • 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
attention span distraction
Attention Span & Distraction
  • 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
critical questions
Critical Questions
  • 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?