The Beginning of Information Illiteracy (Part 1 of 5)


As an Adjunct College Professor in Developmental Reading, I have discovered that there are many entering college freshmen who cannot read or write. Speaking, also, as a librarian, I have been finding it shocking that some of the students’ main interest is reading texts that come in every minute on their smart phones and tablets. These are our future or current customers, clients, and patrons. Recently, college libraries have been advertising information literacy courses to be embedded from within regular courses but it seems to be in competition with the Developmental Reading programs already instituted in many educational institutions. Although, Developmental Reading programs are usually geared for students who make scores on placement tests that are below acceptable standards for regular college courses, they seem to be emphasizing the main focus of: getting the students to be able to know when they need information; when to get that information; how to get that information; demonstrate that they know that information. Either way, the students have no interest in reading a physical book or e-book, not unless there is a grade associated with it. This attitude for learning transfers over with them from their high schools.

High school students are not guaranteed success in college when they have completed college-preparatory courses (Conley, p. 4). Preparation for the graduate would come from their high school’s curriculum that would: (a) measure student academic progress; (b) observe the methods in which states, districts, schools, principals, and teachers are educating students; and (c) observe teachers’ adjusting their educating styles (DOE, 2010 p. 8). In high school English, mathematics, and science courses, students have not been taught how “to draw inferences, interpret results, analyze conflicting source documents, support arguments with evidence, solve complex problems that have no obvious answer, draw conclusions, offer explanations, conduct research, and generally think deeply about what they are being taught” (Conley, 2007c, p. 23).


Around 37% of America’s schools, in 2011, had not met their annual mandates for performance targets (Obama, 2011). In order to be college-ready, students would need to be taught the following skills in high school: “expanding vocabulary and learning word analysis; strategic reading; writing skills; problem-solving abilities; thoroughly understand the basic concepts, principles, and techniques of algebra; teaching the steps of the scientific method; use empirical evidence to draw conclusions, and how they subject such conclusions to challenge and interpretation; skills of interpreting sources, evaluating evidence and competing claims, and understanding historical themes and the importance of key events” (Conley, 2007c, p. 26-27). Without these, unprepared high school graduates scoring low on the college placement tests would be placed into developmental education courses to learn pre-college content that was not offered or not mastered in high school. Through the developmental education course track, entering freshmen can have a “successful transition to the college environment” (Conley, 2008b, p. 24). After finishing the developmental education course track, the college students would show “development of key cognitive strategies, mastery of key content knowledge, proficiency with a set of academic behaviors, and sufficient “college knowledge” about what postsecondary education requires” (Conley, 2010a, p. 18).


Los Medanos College and MiraCosta College have used Boylan’s (2002) best practice inventory of developmental education programs to help them align its views with their developmental education programs. Through the inventory, Los Medanos College (2011) could help their staff understand how instruction could be tailored to help support the students academically. Los Medanos College (2011) could also assess students’ math and English needs through the Accuplacer test. They also added background questions within these tests to obtain data for deciding where to place the students. By using this method, MiraCosta College (2011) improved their developmental education coursework in reading, writing, ESL, and special education.

Published with permission of the author – Lorette S.J. Weldon, EdD, Creator and Teacher of Learning and Teaching Memory and Study Skills: The Way to Information Literacy.


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