Espoused theories and theories-in-use of information literacy: A model for reflection and evaluation

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Abstract

What values and frameworks underpin professional practice in information literacy education? Is practice aligned with mission and goals?

The poster documents the preliminary findings of a research study which investigates the relationships between espoused theories and theories-in-use of information literacy (IL). The study asks if and how, the foundational beliefs and values of information literacy as expressed in official policy documents including mission statements in academic libraries (espoused theories), guide and are realized in the practice of information literacy in these institutions (theories-in-use). The research is guided by the theoretical framework of Argyris and Schön (1974), theory of action, in which contrasting theories, namely espoused theories and theories-in-use are used to examine professional practice.

The poster highlights the process and findings of the in-depth analysis of one library's policy statements and online tutorial, which employed a comparative questioning approach (Strauss and Corbin, 1998). The analysis uncovered statements and concepts relating to teaching and learning outcomes which were labeled, compared, and grouped into broad categories and emergent themes. The findings indicate varying patterns of congruence and incongruence between the library's espoused theories and theories-in-use of information literacy.

The research is presented as a model for reflecting on and evaluating tools of practice in information literacy education.

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