Grappling with Unknowns: Building Empathy through Interrogating Preprints in Information Literacy is a poster in the 2020 PNLA Virtual Poster Session. We encourage you to engage in discussion by leaving a comment on the page. The author of the poster will respond to comments the week of August 4-7, 2020.
Presenters: Je Salvador & Penelope Wood
Track: Academic Library
Abstract: We facilitated a structured workshop with colleagues about the rise of preprint publishing during the COVID-19 pandemic. In preparation, we instructed colleagues to read several articles regarding preprints and asked that they imagine themselves as undergrads while reading. We met using conference software, practiced role play, introduced an online “sticky notes” collaboration tool, and solicited verbal input. While librarians engaged ambiguity by imagining the experiences of undergrads in online learning environments, librarians identified potential discomfort in the learning environment and stated empathy for students.
Workshop questions included: Imagine yourself an undergrad, what are your thoughts on these articles and their ideas? Thinking about these articles, identify barriers to pre-major undergrad student engagement in this space.
Librarians expressed care and empathy through imagining how our library’s primary users could be grappling and reckoning with contradicting, rapidly changing scientific information, as well as interrogating misinformation.
After imagining student experiences with these issues, a second set of questions focused on our work as academic librarians. How can we be continually called back to empathy with learners and users during times of upheaval and unknowns? How can imagining and empathizing with students grappling with rapidly changing scientific information and preprints help librarians who are teaching information literacy (IL)? How can librarians include preprints and open access, not yet peer-reviewed information, in IL instruction? We aim for these questions to inform our work as we continue to grapple with unknowns, contradictory information, and IL instruction.
About the Presenters: Je (said like “Jay”) Salvador embraces he/him, she/her, they/them pronouns. Je was born and raised in Seattle, WA; they lived, learned, and worked in Walla Walla, WA for many years before returning to Seattle. You can ask Je about being a first-generation college graduate. Contact Je at email@example.com
Penelope Wood (they/them pronouns) is a research and instruction librarian for Engineering and Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies programs at UW Bothell and Cascadia College Campus Library; Penelope strives to decenter power and hierarchy in the classroom through feminist pedagogy. Penelope is a first generation college graduate. Contact Penelope at firstname.lastname@example.org
Je and Penelope — thank you for sharing this exercise and poster.
Empathy as a lens for accountability and assessment has been a theme for me this week. It is good to see it as frame to view IL through as well. Do you think empathy (or some other emotional connection) could be used with students to help guide them in IL practices?
Thank you for your question! Yes, I think empathy can be used with students to help guide them in IL practices. I try to engage empathy in these ways when I interact with students:
Your question has also raised other thoughts for me, like “Can I encourage learners to use their empathy to improve their IL practices?” or “What happens when learners employ empathy as a research practice?”
I would love to continue a conversation with you about IL and empathy. (I’m particularly interested in learner’s engaging empathy as a research practice. What do you think?)
Hi Rick and Je,
I definitely use empathy in IL instruction, including asking about and centering students’ experiences of how they search and if they are searching for sense making as valid aspects of research skills. Also, by elevating questions on who has had and/or maintains access to contribute in information spaces considered as authoritative surfaces conversations on historically excluded voices, agency, and knowledge creation… very generative.
Thanks for bringing forth the idea of empathy in assessment! Formative assessment in IL is another space where empathy compels me to refine my teaching in the moment for student needs.
I’d love to hear more on your ideas on empathy in assessment and IL!
Hi, p.s.– I love hearing about some of your examples here. I would be really interested in some of the specific formative assessment you engage in. What are your strategies for that?
Did you come up with answers to “How can librarians include preprints and open access, not yet peer-reviewed information, in IL instruction?” I just attended an info literacy conference where many librarians were discussing how scholarly articles are not the be-all/end-all for undergrads and how we should include other information sources.
Thank you so much for your question. One of the first comments made in the workshop discussion was a reminder that “authority is constructed and contextual”. Several of my coworkers use this idea as a starting place in the online learning activities they develop and provide.
(Related: we were also very interested in interrogating our learners’ other trusted sources that may arise from relationships of care. We have been trying to think of all the many ways in which learners are sense-making in this high-stakes, broadly impactful COVID-19 information landscape.)
In my own current IL instruction, I am able to make time for this emphasis on contextualizing authority and evaluating credibility because I am providing asynchronous learning activities instead of trying to pack several learning objectives into a 50-minute “one-shot” session. This is what’s working for me right now.
I’d be happy to share specific examples or learning objects if you’d like to e-mail me. I imagine Penelope also has some great ideas on this, too!
Yes, I’ll send you an email 🙂