Monday, October 10, 2016

Critical Incident Technique in Information Literacy Research in the XXI Century #ecil2016

In this session on IL research at the European Conference on Information Literacy 2016, in Prague, Czech Republic my next liveblog is Sabina Barbara Cisek, talking on Critical Incident Technique in Information Literacy Research in the XXI Century.
She started by defining Critical Incident Technique (CIT), which has been used in many disciplines including librarianship and information science. It is used to identify (in)effective behaviours in relation to a particular activity. The critical incident is a single event that significantly influences an activity and the person involved, but it does not have to be a "dramatic" incident. The idea is that by encouraging people to tell stories of single incidents in great depth, you avoid fuzzy generalisations.
Mainly data is collected through semi structured interveiws, though other data might also be relevant e.g. reports. There is also a process to be followed in the interview (eleciting details of the event and encouraging reflection) (there is a useful article here)
So, Cisek was investigating how often, and how, CIT was used in information literacy. She did a systematic review (2001-2015) and then qualitative analysis. Only 10 articles were identified using CIT in information literacy. In terms of aspects and topics - there was a range, although there was a focus on students on students and/or library instruction in a number of them. The prompts used to elicit narratives varied (e.g. "most memorable", "most surprising" incident, a "negative" experience. There were different types of sample purposive, random, convenience - numbers varied from 11 to over 300. Widely differing conceptual frameworks included ACRL standards, phenomenography, self-perception theory. Cisek felt it was a pity that the approach was not used more often, because of its power for uncovering experiences. She noted the larger number of uses of CIT in information behaviour research.
She is putting her slides on slideshare at

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