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Inclusive Pedagogy for Library Instruction

Foundational Works

Luvell Anderson (Assistant Professor, Philosophy, Syracuse University) and Verena Erlenbusch (Assistant Professor, Philosophy, University of Memphis) present a framework of how to improve diversity in academic philosophy by suggesting five different models to construct diverse syllabi. One overarching challenge in the field is the domination of white male philosophers and professors in the discipline. The proposed models include 1) The Status Quo Model, focusing on ideas, rather than figures 2) The Critical Model, seeking to present critical voices as a corrective for the exclusionary silence of traditional texts 3) The Reform Model, which insists on the centrality of marginalized perspectives in shaping the history of philosophical conversations and advocates a broadening of what constitutes philosophy 4) The Pluralist Model, presenting multiple traditions in a single course and 5) The Abolitionist Model, which would abolish the traditional philosophy canon all together. This article is not specifically focused on library instruction, but it can be useful to librarians who are working with faculty members to implement inclusive pedagogy and diversity into their syllabus. The article also provides insight on the struggles of how to implement inclusive pedagogy within a humanities discipline.

Tags: Theoretical; Foundation Work

Armstrong (chair of women and gender studies at Lafayette College) uses a series of thoughtful questions to make a case that inclusivity can work in any classroom, regardless of discipline, course content or student population. The author recognizes that diversity and inclusivity are complex topics on university campuses, but instructors can make a difference by implementing pedagogical methods in their classroom. The article recognizes that vastness of research on inclusivity in teaching and learning and describes several well-known texts, such as Steele’s Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do. The author also offers some simple common practices that can work in any classroom, including 1) Bring inclusivity into your syllabus and assignments, such as respectful behavior 2) Learn how to pronounce names correctly and discover the cultural background of students 3) Be aware of your own cultural references and how those affect others 4) Be aware of the cultural references and language jargon in your own discipline 5) Ask for feedback from the students and 6) Research your university’s statements and commitments to diversity. The strength of this article is its application to any discipline, including library instruction.

Tags: Practical; Foundational Work

Considine, et al. focuses on how to incorporate inclusive excellence into college classrooms. They define and explain diversity and inclusion as well as the history, theories, and strategies that shape culturally-relevant pedagogy. The approaches to inclusive teaching include 1) Non-verbal immediacy, 2) Active-learning, 3) Trusting the community of learners, and 4) Peer teachers. They address impediments to inclusive excellence, such as low incentives to incorporate changes, pragmatism, and threats to self-concept. However, the greatest barrier other than time is that these principles are being advocated by instructors, who lack the political power and pull to change institutions systematically. Thus, instructor agency will be needed to incorporate these theories and practices into their classroom in tandem with the creation of coalitions of practitioners who will work toward inclusive excellence.

This article has many implications for library instruction: it requires forethought in instruction design, it requires that instructors reflect on their mindset and familiarity with inclusive pedagogy, and the approaches mentioned within the article can be interpreted and embedded into library instruction sessions. However, this article has limited coverage of the intersectional barriers that come into play with student and professor interactions.

Tags: Theoretical; Practical; Foundational Work; Stereotype Threat

If one is new to Critical Information Literacy (CIL), this book is a must read. Even those well-versed in the tenets of CIL will find Downey’s presentation thoughtful and engaging. New instructor librarians as well as library directors will benefit from this book. It is a short read but packed with substantial information on Critical Information Literacy as distinct from more traditional (skills-based) information literacy. It also underscores the idea that instruction librarians often lack the theoretical underpinnings necessary for good teaching. Theory and praxis are essential. This book offers much for wider discussion.

Downey lays out in accessible language the foundations of CIL and takes the reader through the educational theory which provides context. Critical theory, critical pedagogy and critical literacy are discussed, with distinctions and definitions clearly articulated. Downey critiques traditional library instruction as represented in the old ACRL Standards which are viewed as too focused on assessment, falsely portraying neutrality and objectivity, being too mechanistic, and neglecting the sociopolitical, historical, cultural and ideological processes of knowledge construction. Downey acknowledges that the ACRL Framework published in 2015 represents some “progress toward teaching information literacy as a rich and complex set of ideas and skills… but the legacy of the Standards cannot be underestimated.” (p. 22)

Critical information literacy is rather a practice that promotes critical engagement with information sources. It considers students as collaborators. It recognizes the affective dimensions of research and (in some cases) has liberatory aims (p.41 & 42). CIL takes into account the complex power relationships that undergird all information, including its creation, presentation, storage, retrieval and accessibility (p.42). Addressing “the sociopolitical, economic and cultural aspects of all types and stages of information and the research process” is necessary (p.173).

Downey covers the following areas in 8 chapters:

  1. How critical information literacy fits within this context of critical education theories
  2. Teaching techniques of librarians
  3. Ideas on content that works in well in critical information literacy sessions
  4. How librarians have embedded critical information literacy, successful methods of implementation as well as barriers that tend to get in the way (p. 26 & 27).

This entire book provoked a sense of urgency to learn more and do more. Downey does an excellent job in directing the reader to other relevant articles and books. She is successful in her goals "to give librarians and others who are interested in teaching critical information literacy the inspiration, foundational knowledge and tools they need to get started with their own critical information practice” (p.27). We owe her our thanks.

Tags: Foundational; Theoretical; Critical Information Literacy

This chapter provides an excellent introduction to critical information literacy by exploring - and explicitly problematizing - the concepts of literacy, criticism, and information before bringing them together to consider what is critical information literacy. Elmborg crafts a deeply theoretical background though he does provide possible connections to how these theories might inform the day-to-day practice of librarians wrestling with the inherent white, middle-class values of higher education.

Tags: Theoretical; Foundational Work; Critical Information Literacy

Galvan makes a compelling argument that, despite diversity initiatives, librarianship continues to be overwhelming white because our recruitment and hiring system is designed to value whiteness, which in this essay is defined as “white, heterosexual, capitalist, and middle class.” Galvan highlights barriers that manifest as early as college as well as the ways the profession reinforces them. The article concludes with thoughtful list of ways that librarians, particularly white librarians, can interrogate whiteness and bias that exists in our recruitment, hiring, and retention practices. It is important for inclusive pedagogy practices that instructional librarianship become more diverse and this piece provides practical considerations for how to accomplish this goal. Further, Galvan provides a good model of interrogating whiteness and bias that can also be applied to pedagogical practice in order to create more inclusive library instruction.

Tags: Practical; Foundational Work

Gannon questions how higher education institutions are addressing the disparities with degree completion rates for black and Hispanic students. He posits that one way to solve the problem is an institutional emphasis on inclusive teaching and that pedagogy should be at the center of such efforts. Commitment to inclusive teaching includes 1) Treat all students equitably 2) Students have full access to learning and appropriate tools 3) All students feel welcomed, support and valued. Inclusive teaching benefits all students and it values course design, discernment and a sense of belonging. The article makes a strong case for institutions to make a long-lasting commitment to inclusive pedagogy that applies across the board to all disciplines, including library instruction. The description and definition of inclusive pedagogy is very helpful to the novice reader and provides an excellent introduction to the topic. Librarians would need to interpret the author’s suggestions of how to implement inclusive teaching methods and devise strategies that work in a library instruction session.

Tags: Practical; Foundational Work

In Moule’s primer, the focus in chapter 3 is dedicated to unconscious bias, unintentional racism, and micro-aggressions. She highlights the hard work of honesty, overcoming fears, and reprogramming responses and digs into how to do so.

The chapter makes room for connections and reflections, how to address stereotypical and prejudicial statements with steps and examples, and lastly provides applicable classroom activities. This could be enlightening as well as practical for librarians as they do their own foundational reflection and equips them with the tools to address problematic statements made in the classroom.

Tags: Foundational Work; Practical; Microaggressions

Cultural Competence: A Primer for Educators is an excellent resource and it should be read by all types and levels of educators, including librarians. Chapter 4, “Understanding Privilege and Racial Consciousness among Whites,” is a challenging and powerful article. The chapter examines the concept of White privilege, including the ways that European Americans are afforded certain benefits and rights based solely on the color of their skin. The author also points out how it is difficult for Whites to acknowledge the existence of such privilege. Throughout the chapter, the concepts of racial consciousness and how Whites think about race and racial differences are explored. For example, “White” and “American” has become synonymous in many people’s minds. Numerous examples are provided that demonstrate how White privilege is infused into the very fabric of American Society. In order to acknowledge white privilege, Whites need to take personal responsibility to change and grow, including becoming aware of and working through unconscious feelings and beliefs about one’s connections to race and ethnicity. The author also includes a description of identity development in the college classroom. Educators need to be aware of the existence of white privilege and its influence on teacher-student behavior. If white educators can acknowledge the centrality of race to a non-white student and grasp the nature of their own attitudes and about racial differences, the cultural distance between them can be reduced. One of the best attributes of this chapter is the inclusion of two reflection exercises, “Becoming Aware of Race” and “Costs of Racism to White People.” Librarians will greatly benefit from completing the exercises and reflecting upon them. Highly recommended.

Tags: Practical; Theoretical; Foundational Work; Structural Racism; Microaggressions

This book contains thorough descriptions of basic concepts of cross-cultural teaching and includes a set of principles for inclusive teaching. Topics include cultural competence, unintentional bias and racism, ethnocentricity, microaggressions, privilege, bias in curriculum delivery, etc. Chapters on working with specific ethnic and religious communities are especially timely. Chapter 2, “Understanding Racism and Prejudice” outlines the differences between racism and prejudice and further defines the various types of racism that hamper real inclusiveness in the classroom. The author defines individual, institutional and cultural racism and addresses the issues of intent and denial. Each section is followed by a helpful discussion of the implications for teachers. While the work is geared toward the K-12 classroom, examples of teaching strategies, typical classroom scenarios, and a comprehensive bibliography make this book a good resource for librarians new to these topics.

Tags: Foundational Work; Practical

The phenomenon of stereotype threat is a vital theme to inclusive pedagogy because it underscores the impact of stressors that might emerge in a non-inclusive environment. While there is a wealth of literature on stereotype threat, this particular article stands out because it is the foundational study on the topic. The authors focus specifically on how negative stereotypes related to race and intelligence can cause members of the stereotyped group to self-conform to the stereotype and underperform academically. The article does not go into much detail about how to prevent stereotype threat--although much of the literature borne from this study test interventions to diminish the effects of stereotype threat. Taken in a larger context, the findings from the study suggest that the mere existence of a stereotype can be harmful to a student. Librarian instructors might consider whether there are any stereotypes related to libraries or research (i.e. help-seeking, ability to cite information) that could form a stereotype threat.

Tags: Theoretical; Foundational Work; Stereotype Threat

This qualitative study ties the difficult conversations and experiences students have when racial micro-aggressions appear in the classroom. Touchy dialogues are fueled by strong emotions, personal histories, and worldview that are often difficult for students and instructors to participate in. When these conversations are not adequately facilitated the dignity of students of color is abused and the biased and privileged worldview of white students are upheld. The overall impact of a race dialogue hinges on the mindset, preparation, and facilitation of the instructor.

The article does present specific ways in which teachers can pursue professional development and approaches that can ease these difficult dialogues. The articles are foundational for the understanding of micro-aggressions and their prevalence in the classroom learning environment. This article has implications that can be quite insightful for instructors/librarians.

Tags: Foundational Work; Practical; Microaggressions

The Inclusive Pedagogy for Library Instruction project (IP4LI) is a collaboration of librarians from several small, liberal arts colleges to discover resources and best practices for applying inclusive pedagogy in library instruction settings, particularly one-shot sessions. It is supported by a grant from the Associated Colleges of the South.
Birmingham-Southern College Davidson College Furman University Sewanee - The University of the South University of Richmond Washington & Lee University