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A Brief Manifesto for My Research

Months ago now, Margy Thomas of ScholarShape released a 7-day email course called Deep Why. I tucked all the messages away in my Gmail archives and am just getting to them now. I’ll post my responses to some of them here on my blog.

The first prompt is to reflect on your manifesto:

 In writing a manifesto, we let ourselves imagine the positive change that we can create through the knowledge we’re building.

I’m writing one here. This isn’t a manifesto for life; it’s a manifesto specifically for my dissertation research. You can see the draft prospectus for that research here. Feel free to annotate it.

In the video that accompanied the prompt, Margy suggested that a manifesto articulates two things: VALUES and VISION. So that’s how I’m organizing this manifesto.

Values

My research takes an asset-based approach to information literacy. It’s easy to find doomy proclamations that kids don’t know how to find, evaluate, or use information. But they do it all the time, in pursuing their passions. Young people have information literacy: it just isn’t necessarily aligned with the way educators are attempting to teach and assess their information literacy. My research sees information literacy instruction and assessment as related to culturally sustaining pedagogy: just as young people’s heritage and community cultural practices are resources to honor, explore, and extend, so are their information literacy practices.

(So much credit is due to Dr. Crystle Martin, upon whose dissertation my work is building, for articulating this asset-based view of information literacy before me, and to Dr. Django Paris, for introducing the concept of culturally sustaining pedagogy, as well, of course, to Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, for introducing culturally relevant pedagogy before that.)

Vision

In my research, I seek to apply Dr. Martin’s model of information literacy, which takes this asset-based approach, to a new context: the cosplay affinity space. I also hope to find ways to extend or enhance her model, as new pieces of the interest-driven information literacy picture emerge from my findings. The ultimate vision is to create an accessible, asset-based model of information literacy and then share it widely with librarians and educators, along with ideas for how they might teach and assess information literacy in ways that are aligned with young people’s individual and collective information literacy practices. Or, more colloquially:

I want librarians and educators to stop treating kids like they don’t already know how to deal with information, and instead to start looking for ways kids can transfer the skills they use to deal with information in their own interest-driven pursuits across contexts, to address their academic, professional, and everyday problems.

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