Information Literacy Integration in an Environmental Geology Course

Friday 3:00pm-4:00pm TSU - Humphries: 118
Poster Session Part of Friday


Racha El Kadiri, Middle Tennessee State University
Mary Ellen Sloane, Middle Tennessee State University
One of the recurring and persistent student deficiencies, especially in terms of research and critical thinking-based assignments include not recognizing the nuances and biases packaged in the information, which are recurrent in controversial environmental topics, and a lack of focus on the main research question while conducting research, a problem that increases when the students are asked to define their own research questions.
In this project, a partnership was built between an environmental geology instructor and a science librarian at Middle Tennessee State University to address these deficiencies in an upper division undergraduate course. The students were exposed to information literacy concepts and tools and were given the opportunity to practice them in a semester-long project. The integration of information literacy was conducted through lectures and handouts about information literacy by the science librarian and a semester research project. The latter is the core of the integration, and it allowed the students to practice the concepts and tools firsthand. The students were requested to select a debatable environmental topic that has no clear consensus within the general public (e.g. fracking, carbon tax, overpopulation/environmental sustainability). Then the students were assigned to do research about the opposing views and dissect the flaws, facts, and uncertainties in each argument, as well as search for the underlying scientific theories and formulate these concepts in ways that can be understood by a general public audience. Finally the students were required to prepare a poster to be presented for a general audience. At the end of the course, a poster session was organized on Earth day and was opened to the public in which the students presented the final versions of their semester projects. Integrating information literacy into the environmental geology course was a step toward educating the students on information literacy for optimal life-long learning and an appreciation of how these skills could assist them in their future careers, along with developing an understanding of the impact that information has on society and our lives.