ERIC Number: ED390442
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993
The Teaching of Critical Thinking Skills by Academic Librarians.
Goetzfridt, Nicholas J.
Teaching critical thinking is a relatively new dimension of bibliographic instruction (BI) in the academic environment. It marks a departure from the teaching of "user skills" in which the primary concern is enabling library patrons to determine the appropriateness of reference tools and to use those tools effectively. This report assembles a range of opinions on the extent to which librarians should be directly involved in pursuing an institution's academic goals, cooperating with faculty, or attempting to strengthen critical thinking skills of students. Some would say that in this age of increasingly complex tools, BI violates S. R. Ranganathan's law of saving the user's time. Librarians, therefore, should use the full potential of their expertise to concentrate on delivering information to users. The image of the librarian as teacher is an organizational "fiction" created to establish a more comforting self-image or to seek equal status with faculty. Complicating matters is the increasingly prevalent idea that although critical thinking is vital to the research process, it means different things in different disciplines, and critical thinking skills learned in one area, library use, for example, cannot necessarily be transferred to another area. Others counter that BI need not be confined to how-to procedures and encouraging students to regard reference sources as constituting specific answers, but can be enlarged to teach students to look at information as "evidence to be examined." As far as librarian status goes, the professional literature seems to emphasize strategies for gaining faculty cooperation without allowing the larger issue of academic equality for librarians to take control. Besides summarizing professional theory, the report also discusses ideas for integrating the teaching and encouragement of critical thinking into the traditional, task-oriented BI model, and for nurturing cooperative relationships between librarians and faculty which integrate library skills and course content. The report stresses the need for empirical study on librarian involvement in teaching critical thinking to students. (Contains 52 references.) (BEW)
Descriptors: Course Integrated Library Instruction, Critical Thinking, Higher Education, Information Seeking, Instructional Design, Intellectual Disciplines, Interdisciplinary Approach, Librarian Teacher Cooperation, Librarians, Library Instruction, Library Role, Library Skills, Professional Recognition, Reference Services, Role Perception, Thinking Skills
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A