i3 conference held this week at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. Alison Hicks and Annemaree Lloyd talked about It takes a community to build a framework: information literacy within intercultural settings. Hicks started by talking about different kinds of intercultural settings. When people move to a different culture/country they have to develop new adaptive strategies, and information literacy was seen as a way of getting to know this new landscape. However, in practice, information literacy may not scaffold this complexity: specifically the US ARCL information literacy standards were seen as problematic. More generally, behaviourist approaches were seen as dominating information literacy in intercultural seetings (with the idea of steps, levels etc.). This leads to IL being positioned (particularly thinking of the USA) as a set of neutral and general skills, even in intercultural settings. It also implied a "one way or unilateral process of assimilation" with a focus on rectifying deficits in teaching and assessments.
Hicks then contrasted a more nuanced constructivist approach, seeing "linguistic and cultural challenges bringing complexity". However, even the constructivist approach (for example, in the new ACRL framework) was seen as "neglecting practices that characterise knowing of a context", isolating IL from context, values etc.
The third approach that Hicks presented was the sociocultural approach to IL in intercultural settings. These was seen as emerging from the local and social context, so that it would embody community values etc.
Lloyd took over at this point took over to talk about her study of refugees and health information. Participants from various African backgrounds were interviewed and constructivist grounded theory was used to analyse the data, before going back to discuss the emerging results in focus groups. The researchers discovered that "information literacy is enacted through social interactions", and that people emerged as important sources of information. People were used in different ways (mediation, confirmatory, instructional etc.) Lloyd also highlighted the strategy of pooling information in order to get a bigger picture or make a decision. ths mastering information did not depend on individuals, but rather the resiliance in the community.
There is a paper here (priced publication)
Lloyd, A., Kennan, M., Thompson, K. and Qayyum, A. (2013). Connecting with new information landscapes: information literacy practices of refugees. Journal of Documentation, 69(1), 121-144. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/00220411311295351
Finally Lloyd handed back to Hicks to provide a further critique of the ACRL framework, in that it maintains a generic approach tto information literacy and knowledge. Hicks' own research will focus on language students abroad, including the notion of internationalisation in universities, and the experience of transition.
Photo by Sheila Webber: field by Dunnottir Castle, June 2015