With decreased funding occurring in secondary and higher education, providing relevant and meaningful cross-curricular connections can be challenging. This presentation first highlights national trends, and then shifts to a pilot project in an East Baltimore inner-city high school. This case study, presented at EDUCAUSE, demonstrates how some of these challenges were addressed through a collaboration of an academic librarian and a public school teacher.

Creating Stronger Outcomes
Poster Presentation at the mid-Atlantic EDUCAUSE conference

The Entrepreneurial Library Program (ELP) collaborated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Education  to offer pilot programs to integrate information literacy into the Common Core curriculum at a Baltimore City high school, National Academy Foundation (NAF).

In 2011-2012, Brandon Wallace and Susan Payne collaborated to develop instructional materials that closely aligned information literacy to the Common Core curriculum for ninth graders at NAF.

After creating a rubric that mapped information literacy skills to the Common Core, we produced a Writing Process Work book to help high school students write an argumentative paper.  A pre- and post- assessment helped identify areas of writing that students found difficult.

One hundred and thirty students participated in the assessments and used the instructional material designed to support students as they completed their assignments. Pre- and post-assessments helped target areas of writing that students found difficult, such as how to cite sources correctly.

Diagramming out parts of a citation helped students understand how to create them.


Bank of Aligned Skills:

Consistent hallmarks of the pilots include:

  • Ties to standards
  • Incorporates a broad view of information literacy
  • Embeds into curriculum
  • Strengthens student learning objectives
  • Subsequently adopted by 10th, 11th, and 12th grades at NAF.

The table above shows how various information literacy standards, such as AASL information literacy, ISTE 21st century learner skills, ACRL standards, and others can relate to an information concept and Common Core curriculum. The important aspect of this work then breaks down the concept into students learner outcomes, also called benchmark skills, at various levels (introductory, reinforced, or mastery).


Strengthening Learning Outcome

Qualitative responses coded by themes showed areas students found challenging when writing an argumentative paper. Ongoing pre- and post-assessment allowed gaps in student knowledge and learning to be addressed before students turned in final papers.

Coding the responses helped us understand more precisely areas of writing that students found to be difficult. This then allowed us to create instructional material targeting specific learning gaps.


Research as an Iterative Process

Often picking a topic, finding information and then figuring out how to organize what is found and write about is an iterative process requiring a willingness to backtrack, rethink topics and try different searches.The opportunity to access resources on an ongoing basis is critical to strengthening writing and research skills, especially for students in an urban setting.


Lessons Learned

  • Information literacy overarches data, digital, media, visual, and other literacies. Each literacy can be broken down into modular and adaptive research skills, following a natural progression of skills in each level of learner development.
  • Embedding research skills into the curriculum results in stronger outcomes that can be measured through assessments.
  • Digital literacy is increasingly viewed as a necessary skill for 21st century workers and reflected in both Common Core and AASL standards. Helping learners through guided exercises can deepen and strengthen research and learning skills.
  • Information literacy concepts can expand Common Core curriculum by creating stronger learner outcomes in writing, as well as other subjects.

Next Steps

  • To test benchmarks in to different learner populations, such as in a course at  an online distance  college; research universities; and continued professional learning.
  • To deepen our understanding about how different literacies  (such as data, digital, media, and visual) sometimes converge and overlap, and how they differ.
  • To utilize technology to make these workbooks more interactive.



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