Information Competency Plan
for the California Community Colleges
Issues and Recommendations
A. Staff Development
Making effective changes in organizations, educational or otherwise, is a complex process. To ensure information competency in community college students, we must as well ensure the information competency of librarians, discipline faculty, support staff, and administrators. The time and money needed to do this must be provided.
"The need for faculty development," states the Academic Senate report, "is paramount and support must be provided for instructional design. Information competency must also compete with a variety of other faculty development needs and these funds are often not available for reassigned time and materials to develop these competencies." Supporting evidence:
The CSU report succinctly poses the problem: " Before a professor can teach students to do a hypermedia project or understand the provisions of the copyright act or discuss the ethics of e-mail, he or she must have considerable faculty development opportunities. With the rapid pace of technological change, skills need continual updating and renewing."
CCC Board Policy: Addressing the issue of new and diverse learning styles and use of more technology in teaching, in The New Basic Agenda the CCC Board noted the need for faculty to be "given adequate opportunity to learn about these issues and opportunities and have access to the technology."
Academic Senate: "Before the information competency of students can be ensured, information competency of the faculty must be ensured, and the time and money needed to do this must be provided. If faculty is to foster information competency skills in their courses, faculty skills must be enhanced. With the rapid pace of technological change, skills need continual updating and renewing.
Overwhelmingly workshop participants echoed the same concerns.
1. Faculty development strategy:
- A well designed, multi-dimensional faculty development strategy must be developed and made available to all faculty members in the CCCs to enhance the understanding of information competency. It would be particularly effective if integrated into overall staff development training opportunities.
- AA1. Statewide conference.
An initial statewide conference using a team approach to a) review proposals in the Information Competency Plan, b) enhance understanding of information competency and c) present model programs in use and in the development stage. The conference would invite instructional teams from all 106 community colleges. Each team, including an administrator, a discipline faculty member and a librarian, would select models infusing information competency to best meet the needs of their college.
- AA2. Subsequent conferences.
Subsequent statewide conferences would provide discipline-specific models and evaluate progress from the previous year's programs. Presenters would include representatives from national organizations representing educational segments and disciplines, as well as state and national officials involved in information competency issues.
Provide a website to disseminate training materials and opportunities, e.g., interactive web tutorials on facets of information competency.
- AA4. Consultant.
Designate an information competency consultant/webmaster to provide support on
- a) sharing information on models under development or in use in CCCs,
- b) assessing via an annual report how well the models meet their goals,
- c) providing liaison with state and national efforts fostering and supporting information competency efforts, and coordinating funding opportunities and
- d) providing liaison with various cooperative efforts, particularly between CSU, private industry and the CCCs.
- AA5. Collaboration strategies.
Explore strategies for collaboration with systems' staff members and highlight programs identifying effective collaboration.
- AA6. Fund hardware and software.
Routinely fund staff hardware and software supporting networking and other aspects of libraries and resource use. Replacement equipment and support staff should be budgeted to make the best use of college instructional resources.
2. Identify and systematize levels of funding and training support related to information competency.
- AB1. Regional pilot projects.
The Library and Learning Resources Programs Advisory Committee of the Chancellor's Office to identify funding opportunities of regional pilot training projects.
- AB2. Local funding.
Encourage local colleges to review and use staff development funds for training in information competency techniques.
- AB3. Review legislation for funding.
Review the language of California legislation and regulations to identify funding for information competency that parallels support for counselors for training.
- AB4. Position paper on training strategies.
Develop a position paper with the CCC Chancellor's Office, Academic Senate, and other groups on how best to administratively support information competency training outlining specific strategies and their costs and benefits, e.g., flex time, release time, site visits, travel and conference budgets for faculty. This position paper should address the issue of how to "fast-track" opportunities for information competency.
- AB5. Continue and augment FII funding.
Continue and augment funding information competency as a priority for the Fund for Instructional Improvement.
- AB6. Professional conferences.
Include information competency components in professional conferences.
- AB7. Library schools.
Collaborate with California library schools to identify current courses and suggested courses for information competency training and retooling.
B. A Collaborative Environment, Articulation & Matriculation
More than half the students coming to community colleges are in need of some pre-collegiate training, reports the CCC Board's The New Basic Agenda. This problem was noted in the 1995 Cohen-Jan report and the Curzon CSU report of the same year. The January 1998 Education Week gave California schools an F in 'Resources' on its annual report card. The State's K-12 schools, once a national model, are now among the nation's worst in academic performance; hardly surprising since California ranks 41st in per-pupil spending. Collaboration with K-12 schools is essential to attempt a solution to the problem: CCC students, more than most in the nation, arrive under-prepared for the high-tech society in which they find themselves.
New and Continuing Roles for Libraries and Librarians
Workshop participants noted a library is not only a place, it is a function. The library of the future will continue to select, access, and subsidize information resources required throughout the college. Further, academic libraries have a long tradition of providing direct assistance and instruction to their users. Participants noted the increasing need for library staff members, particularly reference librarians, to teach students and faculty to identify, locate and evaluate information wherever individuals or resources may reside.
"Librarians," states the Consortium for Educational Technology for University Systems in its Academic Library in the Information Age: Changing Roles (1997) are ideally positioned to "serve as leaders on their campuses during this period of transformation, facilitating the introduction of new technologies for learning, teaching, and research."
As information systems increase in complexity and new resources continue to spring up, increasingly, librarians are called upon to assist faculty and students in identifying and evaluating many sources, and to serve as advisors and teachers.
The evolving role of librarians, as noted by the Consortium report, requires constant training to maintain currency. Also, given this charge, librarians will be:
- Partnering with discipline faculty and other specialists for delivery of information and instruction.
- Designing instructional programs for information access.
- Teaching students and faculty how to access information, whatever its format or location, and how to evaluate what they find.
- Serving as consultants on information resources, issues, and problems.
- Developing and implementing information policy.
- Creating information access tools.
- Selecting, organizing, and preserving information in all its formats.
- Serving as leaders and facilitators in introducing information technologies and ensuring their effective use.
- B1. Partnership.
As stated by the Academic Senate's report, encourage an environment that "respects the individuality of each community college and is built on a collegial partnership of library faculty, instructional faculty, and media and instructional technology professionals."
- B2. Articulation.
Collaborate and articulate with other sectors of California public education. " K-16 in California," the Academic Senate report states " is an interdependent, interconnected system. The CSU relies on the K-12 and community college sectors to prepare students ready for university study, and K-12 and the community colleges depend on the CSU to prepare qualified teachers for their classrooms. This same interdependence is crucial in information competence."
- B3. Intersegmental discussion.
"The need for intersegmental discussion and coordination of information competency is vital," states the Academic Senate report. "The focus of the CSU system," it continues, "has been for each campus to develop its own plan to incorporate information competency, with encouragement for multi-campus projects." CCC workshop participants, as well, overwhelmingly endorsed this process.
- B4. The CAN System.
The California Articulation Number (CAN) System is a cross-reference course numbering system used to identify courses of comparable content toward the goal of maintaining standards of academic rigor for those courses, and ensuring transfer between and among participating institutions. The CAN System assures students that CAN courses on one participating campus will be accepted 'in lieu of' the comparable CAN course on another participating campus. This system should be used to locate comparable courses making use of information competency components.
- B5. Unified program.
Explore the possibility of a unified program of bibliographic instruction among all three segments of California higher education. These segments should a) adopt and implement a program of bibliographic instruction. b) establish blanket articulation agreements, and c) guarantee transfer of bibliographic library instruction courses, using CAN numbers.
- B6. Website courses.
Identify the website courses that include the set of core competencies identified in this report, possibly similar to the San Jose State University website and provide a comprehensive Statewide listing of such courses to assist in course development, planning, articulation and cooperation.
- B7. Assess student proficiency.
Review various methods used to assess student proficiency in information competency to improve student success and mastery of information competency skills. The CSU report suggests "student mastery of skills of information competence could be assessed through a standardized test or through a performance or demonstration of the skills." Some CCC participants noted the folly of attempting to inculcate a long list of critical skills through one isolated course. Instead, they suggested that the focus be on a fundamental change across the curriculum and that follow-up studies address the issue of (1) matriculation assessment and (2) baseline models: what works; what doesn't and the related issue of prerequisites and requirements.
- B8. Matriculation.
Matriculation services (identified in the California Education Code, Section 78212, subsections 3, A-E) require that students be provided with
Because of the central role information competency plays in study and learning in today's Information Age, it is suggested that information competency is a component of student study and learning skills. Thus, it is proposed the phrase "including information competency" be appended to the above listed section of the Code, following the words "study and learning skills."
- assessment and counseling upon enrollment,
- assistance in the identification of aptitudes, interests and educational objectives for all education programs,
- the evaluation of study and learning skills,
- specialized support services as needed, and
- advisement concerning course selection.
- B9. Education Code.
In the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services regulations, the current statutes in the California Code of Regulations, Title V, Chapter 7, Special Programs, Subchapter 2.5, Article 3 (Program standards) 56234 states "assessments shall, at minimum include: study skills assessment which determines how well the student is able to take lecture notes, outline written material, use library services, and use effective study techniques. It is proposed that the terms "information competency and study skills" be integrated throughout the Education Code and that funding be made available for EOP&S, as well as other students, student groups and special programs.
- B10. Collaboration in teaching.
In teaching students contemporary skills in information competency, be it fundamentals of information competency in college orientation/learning skills classes or more advanced topics, explore methods of collaboration involving library faculty and other instructors.
C. Knowledge and Technology Infrastructure Support
Knowledge Infrastructure Support
Today's array of technologies and networks is providing dramatic changes in teaching, learning and research. Increasingly, these changes are evident in California community colleges and their libraries and resource centers. Ralph Wolff, Executive Director of the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges, WASC, provides a useful summary of the issue in Conference Notes of the November 1997 CSU Information Competence Workshop. "Higher education institutions and the curriculum," he writes, "must be supportive of the library in its role as a window of global knowledge. Libraries enable institutions to go beyond their physical boundaries
. Accreditation agencies should be the catalysts, which encourage institutions to adopt new dynamic ways of thinking which incorporate information competence into their curricula
. The present accreditation system is not working well under the new emerging educational model, one that is learning-centered, not resource-centered. The old standards are based on resources, structures, numbers of books, and faculty." The new standards, Wolff suggested, should be a student learning-centered approach. In looking at how best to support information competency, workshop participants noted we must blend the best traditions of past library
practices and services with new options, particularly those of electronic resources and the concept of a "virtual" university with a "virtual" library.
The Library Collection - Print and Electronic
The kind of collections CCCs should have and how they should be funded is of relevance to this report on information competency since students and faculty require materials in the libraries to support course development and offerings. Collection development issues are caught in a crossfire: studies have demonstrated that both print and electronic collections need upgrading, and yet funding opportunities are often weighted towards one facet of the collection - electronic access to bibliographic holdings and resources.
The California Education Code does not address the area of library collections. Title V of the California Code of Regulations addresses it from a quantitative perspective - somewhat outdated in this era of electronic information sharing. Collection development problems are summarized in a CCC Chancellor's Office publication: A Study of the System's Library and Learning Resources over a Period of Seven Years, 1988-89 and 1994-95 (1997) by Carolyn Norman. It found:
- "Information and learning resources collections in the colleges have experienced a five percent annual decline over the study period of seven years."
- "Eighty-seven percent of the reporting campuses showed net collection deficits in 1993-94, according to national standards."
- "Information and learning resources collections have increased disproportionately to students, curriculum offerings, and faculty."
- Over the study period, library and learning resources faculty decline by 17 percent and classified personnel declined by 29.6 percent, while FTE students increased.
- The information revolution requires that students learn to retrieve and manipulate increasing amounts of information. The collections should be sufficient to support the courses, programs and degrees that are offered. Institutions cope with these problems as best they can, but these strategies do not provide equality of access to resources.
As noted by the CSU Task Force report, "in order for students to obtain a good education, they must have access to a wide variety of knowledge that challenges their minds, encourages them to read and research broadly, and makes them aware of the range and breadth of the knowledge developed by many people and many cultures. This means that the library's collections
must be strong and vital." Libraries require:
- Carefully selected and well-organized collections in all formats.
- Networked electronic information resources.
- Materials for self-paced learning.
- Programs supporting new ways of teaching and delivering information resources.
- A commitment to preservation and access for print, electronic and other formats.
- An infrastructure that supports instruction of all types of users in meeting their information needs.
- Necessary human and fiscal resources.
- Necessary plant, support services, communications and networks, interlibrary loan support, student assistants and operating hours.
Recommendations addressing this issue are integrated into the following section on Technology Infrastructure since it is impossible to discuss collection development options in today's world without making use of current technology in the storage and retrieval of information.
Technology Infrastructure Support
Building a solid technology infrastructure requires a long and steady commitment. The Chancellor's Office has, through budget preparation, studies and research, identified baseline support upon which to build a 21st century library or learning resources program, including the broad spectrum of resources found in CCC libraries. As discussed by Mary Ann Laun in her 1997 report On-ramps to Electronic Highways, Internet connections are expected to be completed this year. Workstations for Internet access are a priority need. Some libraries have adequate collections and research space, well staffed labs for students, and a large enough professional and classified support staff to provide support for college instruction. Others do not.
The Chancellor's Office 1998-99 Budget Report, November 1997, provides a history of the challenges related to instructional equipment and library acquisitions: "prior to the inception of a State funded program for the replacement of instructional equipment in 1985, State funds were provided for instructional materials only when a building was constructed or remodeled. Tighter and tighter operating budgets resulted in a wide disparity in the community colleges' ability to replace outworn and obsolete instructional equipment. Much of the current equipment is obsolete and inadequate for properly educating students to satisfy present day needs of employers. Past State support for this program has made it impossible to modernize the college's instructional tools on a systematic basis. In 1985, the Chancellor's Office identified over $500 million of existing instructional equipment at the community colleges. Since that time, the figure has grown to nearly $900 million of existing instructional equipment and it still does not meet all the college's growing instructional needs for more up-to-date equipment. By updating the original survey, the annual cost to maintain and repair the colleges' existing equipment is now over $27 million. Additional yearly costs of over $60 million is needed to replace or upgrade the colleges instructional equipment in existing programs. The annual ongoing cost therefore, amounts to over $87 million for just instructional equipment. This figure does not include the $420 million identified in the California Community College Acquisition Needs: 1995-2005 for library materials, or the over $1 billion needed for technology infrastructure upgrade."
- C1. CCC collections.
Upgrade and maintain 21st century CCC collections. A task force should review the findings of California Community College Library Acquisition Needs: 1995-2005, by Kirk Knutsen (1996) and provide recommendations towards a solution. This task force should take into consideration core needs, electronic resource options, K-12 enrollments, and projected increases in CCC enrollments as reported in 2005 - A Report of the Task Force for the Chancellor's Consultation Council, (September 1997). This task force report should be developed in tandem with technology infrastructure proposals as identified in this planning document. Also, the report should review access options, such as The Library of California, a proposal by The California State Library of January 1996. Further, the report should provide recommendations on:
- How to upgrade and maintain 21st century CCC collections, particularly the section on categorical support budget funding.
- Supplemental matching funds, reallocations within libraries, increasing support budget revenues to augment acquisition budgets, benefit assessment districts, student library fee, State income tax checkoff, and private funds.
- C2. Collection development.
Develop a basic core collection supporting curriculum requirements, including print and electronic products and services.
- C3. Technology infrastructure.
Continue and augment the State funded Telecommunication Technology Infrastructure Program (TTIP), as well as other sources to provide libraries with the infrastructure to support connections to the CSU network, expand local and wide area networks, and improve technologies.
- C4. Equipment and library materials.
Institutionalize an acquisition and replacement schedule of technology equipment and software in the library - replacement goal, for example, of 4-5 years for all computers. Prioritize the process of maintaining, replacing and upgrading outworn or obsolete instructional equipment and library materials.
- C5. Consortium purchasing.
Develop a consortium and purchasing plan for library resources.
- C6. Minimum standards.
Develop a plan for compliance with minimum standards (Title V, Section 58724) for resources for community college students as well as allocations based on FTES. Of particular urgency is the need to develop a method whereby CCC libraries and resource centers will be provided the resources to meet, at least, minimum standards for faculty librarians and support staff.
- C7. Virtual University.
Recommend a task force study the impact of Virtual University students (enrolled or otherwise) on campus libraries and learning resources and augment relevant agreements to meet the needs of those students. Provide support for distance learners, including reference services, web access, and document delivery.
- C8. Library Automation Project.
Upgrade the Chancellor's Office Library Automation Project to provide well staffed labs, adequate labs, professional and support staff, data and Internet connectivity to the TI standard, online catalogs and access to electronic and print resources by being Z39.50 compliant. Such funds are not to be interpreted as in lieu of general library acquisition funds.
- C9. Interlibrary borrowing.
Streamline interlibrary borrowing of resources targeting a 24-hour turnaround. Further, provide e-mail delivery of electronic resources, using regional consortia and funds from special needs groups to support these efforts. This would be particularly supportive of the research needs of disabled students.
- C10. Electronic classrooms.
Provide electronic classrooms as needed to allow teaching sites on information competency and related skills.
D. The Challenge of Developing Courses, Proposing Changes in Degree Requirements
The Academic Senate Report
The report explains "due to the diversity of available information technologies and the increasing amount of information conveyed through electronic interfaces, the instructional content of information competency must be expanded. Library orientations and bibliographic instruction programs as typically implemented by the majority of California Community Colleges are not comprehensive enough to fill the needs of our students as they cope with the explosion of information. The knowledge obtained in traditional library orientations and bibliographic instruction sessions is important and needs to be expanded to include an understanding of the issues of copyright, free speech, censorship, access and privacy. The goal is to prepare students to work independently using electronic databases and information networks in addition to using traditional written materials to locate and present information."
Some members of educational segment groups caution that students are burdened with too many requirements at present, and that this places an even greater burden on them regarding course completion. Focus groups in the workshops overwhelmingly subscribed to the notion of a joint effort of librarians and discipline faculty. Project participants emphasized the need for a cooperative working relationship with discipline faculty as the only practical method to address this issue, in essence subscribing to the policy as recommended in the Academic Senate position paper.
California Statutory Law & Administrative Regulations
California statutory law and administrative regulations can be interpreted as supporting information competency. The Education Code (Section 78212, subsection 3 A-F) states students should be provided assessment and counseling upon enrollment, and that there should be evaluation of student study and learning skills with post enrollment evaluation of progress, with required advisement of students in remedial courses. It is difficult to disallow that information competency is but a facet of study skills, and thus, is already in the Code. Also, workshop participants drew attention to the California Code of Regulations statement on EOP&S funding which impacts on information competency: Title V, 56234 (c), requires the colleges to spell out how well eligible students are able to use library services and use effective study techniques. Further, participants observed that information competency is, in fact, a component of critical thinking and a facet of matriculation requirements.
- D1. Education Code.
Revise the Education Code and place it in the context of today's educational world. Insert the words "including information competency skills" after student study and learning skills, in the referenced sections of the Code.
- D2. Critical thinking, learning and study skills.
Include in the Code the requirement that information competency training is provided to all students, and that information competency be defined as a study skill, a learning skill, and a critical thinking skill.
- D3. Student equity.
The CCC Chancellor's Office should identify and provide the amount of funding required to support programs in this area for all entering students.
The implementation of an information competency program will be most effective if it is integrated horizontally and vertically throughout the curriculum. The Academic Senate report, the CSU study, and the vast majority of workshop participants agree. The Academic Senate report states "an ideal plan would integrate information competency in all courses in the curriculum. A separate course, taken once in a student's career, should not be expected to satisfy the key components of information competency." It is recommended that the fundamentals of information competency be introduced in a college orientation/learning skill course. The concept of information competency can then be further developed by embedding them in general education transfer courses and in courses that are required for certificate and/or degree programs. Because the ability to use information effectively and wisely is crucial to a student's success in higher education, it seems natural to incorporate information competency into the general education curriculum required of all students. It could be added as a separate course, or as a component in several, or all, of the courses in the general education curriculum. It is possible to identify the competencies that all students should have, but sometimes discipline-specific competencies are needed. Those competencies should be integrated into the curriculum of that discipline.
Presently, orienting members of the campus community on information resources available to them and how to make use of those resources is widespread throughout the California community colleges and CSU campuses. "In many ways," the CSU study reports, "this is an ideal place to begin a sustained emphasis on the student's acquiring information skills, the 'orientation' nature of the course and the necessity to cover all student support services and study skills usually dictates that the component devoted to information competency be brief." Many colleges employ variations of the following models:
- General orientations emphasizing the basic skills necessary to find information in today's electronic environment.
- A bibliographic/ library instruction course.
- Introduction to Libraries and Library Materials, a library technology course.
- Internet Research Strategies, a library technology course.
- 'One-shot' instructional sessions taught by librarians.
- Formal instruction for faculty, administration and staff on new library resources.
- Information competency in general education.
- Information competency in major areas.
- Information competency as an add-on to another course.
- Information competency through competency-based mastery
- Standardized tests and other methods of assessing performance or demonstration of skills.
- E1. Fund pilot projects.
Fund pilot projects, including collaborative efforts among colleges and between CCCs and CSU, UC, K-12 and industry, to develop effective core GE models which integrate information competency into the curriculum.
- E2. Review effective models.
Review effective models presently in place.
- E3. Listservs.
Identify useful listservs, discipline based and/or general.
- E4. Student participation.
Include students as part of the collaborative process, particularly in developing materials used in resource-based instruction.
- E5. Support course development.
Investigate the use of flextime, release time, sabbaticals, stipends, and/or other means to support specific competence assignments to develop courses with information competency components.
- E6. Evaluation.
Evaluate effectiveness and share results of various models developed in pilot programs or from other sources.
- E7. Assessment methods.
Identify effective methods of assessment of student mastery of information competency skills.
Samples of these models are explained in Appendix E.
This page was last updated on December 3, 2004.
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