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Information Literacy at CalArts

The guide contains information surrounding key topics in information literacy and related resources for students and faculty.

Metaliteracy and [Meta]cognition

Metaliteracy and metacognition necessitate the integration of critical self-reflection in scaffolded information literacy instruction and ethical information engagement.

Metaliteracy “expands the scope of traditional information skills (determine, access, locate, understand, produce, and use information) to include the collaborative production and sharing of information in participatory digital environments (collaborate, produce, and share)” ("Framework").

Metaliteracy characteristics and information literacy dispositions.

Image source: University Libraries Faculty Scholarship


Metacognition “is an awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes. It focuses on how people learn and process information, taking into consideration people’s awareness of how they learn" ("Framework").

Bloom’s Taxonomy is an effective model for mapping scaffolded educational goals. Its 2001 revision provides a related taxonomy of knowledge types involved in cognition, inclusive of metacognition.

Image source: Iowa State University

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is defined as “a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that —(A) provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and (B) reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient.” Within this framework, instruction is implemented across various modalities, creating opportunities for multimodal engagement.

Image source: CAST

Play Pedagogy

A play pedagogy invites students to experiment, explore, and otherwise approach research questions creatively, without the impositions of perfectionism or fear of failure. When scholarship is framed as a creative process, research can be understood as a playful journey of discovery that meaningfully parallels the experience of artmaking.

Play as a constructivist and participatory concept can also be utilized as a means of providing critical library instruction. After Paolo Freire’s antihierarchical pedagogy toward a “critical consciousness,” a playful instructional approach can serve to empower students to participate in their education, contribute their voices and perspectives, and ultimately challenge oppressive or violent structures within and beyond their academic milieu. Play invites students to experiment, call into question the status quo, and reimagine the rules that govern their worlds.

In praxis, a play pedagogy can involve:

  • A Conceptual Shift. Librarians need not necessarily reinvent their curriculum and choose instead to reframe it, highlighting the playful aspects of their existing instructional practice. 
  • Object-Based Learning. The multi-sensory engagement tied to object-based learning can serve to counteract any anticipated didacticism in the instructor-student relationship by fostering deep, constructivist experiential learning. Encountering meaningful collections materials in library instruction may also encourage students to return to library’s collections to inspire future artmaking and scholarly inquiry.
  • Critical Making. Critical making can be understood as “an elision of two typically disconnected modes of engagement in the world—‘critical thinking,’ often considered as abstract, explicit, linguistically based, internal and cognitively individualistic; and ‘making,’ typically understood as material, tacit, embodied, external and community-oriented.” By combining these modes, students can find the means to experiment with critical literacy practices while playfully and actively engaging in a creative classroom community.

Critical Librarianship

Critical librarianship “takes an ethical and political approach to library work, using critical theory to expose and question the historical, political, and social bases of our assumptions and practices." By engaging in critical librarianship, library instructors model the thoughtful metacognitive behavior they encourage in their students.

In praxis, critical information literacy instruction can involve:

  • Flipped Classroom. Encouraging students to lead activities facilitates active learning and creates a participatory atmosphere.
    • Ex.) Students explore databases and present their findings to the class.
  • Addressing Power. By discussing the role of power in information structures, students can learn to consider the types of knowledge represented (and elided).
    • Ex.) The class evaluates the search results for controversial subjects, then considers the financial and political circumstances surrounding the sources' publication.
  • Questioning Authority. Interrogate the concept of authority in scholarly research by polling students about their held notions.
  • Participatory Collections. Discuss the types of knowledge found in zines versus other publication types. Lead making activities and Invite students to contribute their zines to library collections.