Journalism, Backwards Design, and the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy

I am fortunate to teach a journalism program in my library. Libraries are the perfect place to host programs that nurture media creation, information literacy, and civic participation. I wrote this summer about my enthusiasm for the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy.

The following are a couple of assignments I designed using the framework to craft rubrics for assessment. My advanced students (seniors) are completing an annotated bibliography and literature review, while my up-and-coming journalists (sophomores and juniors) are preparing a portfolio.

Essentially, to develop these assignments I did the work of backwards design. I identified my pedagogical goals, determined what students could do to demonstrate competence/mastery, then planned the assignment and unit of study.

Annotated Bibliography and Lit Review 

Overview:

This assignment challenges journalists to deepen their expertise and understanding of a topic they are interested in by developing an annotated bibliography and performing a literature review. This lit review is meant to act as a preparatory experience and help to enact what Thomas E. Patterson calls “knowledge-based journalism.”

Too often, reporters give equal weight to facts and biased opinion, stir up small controversies, and substitute infotainment for real news. Even when they get the facts rights, they often misjudge the context in which they belong.

Information is the lifeblood of a healthy democracy. Public opinion and debate suffer when citizens are misinformed about current affairs, as is increasingly the case. Though the failures of today’s communication system cannot be blamed solely on the news media, they are part of the problem, and the best hope for something better.

Patterson proposes “knowledge-based journalism” as a corrective. Unless journalists are more deeply informed about the subjects they cover, they will continue to misinterpret them and be vulnerable to manipulation by their sources.

Assignment:

  • Identify the topic you will be researching
  • Next, identify at least three key keywords to help you explore this topic in more depth
  • Identify five resources you plan to search (library catalog, database, etc.) using the three keywords
  • Perform a keyword search
  • Read at least 20 sources and create an archive. For each source do the following:
    • Cite in MLA format.
    • One paragraph (about 150 words) summary of the material. Include key findings, interesting quotes, and/or questions the piece brings up.
  • From this annotated bibliography, write a 4-page literature review. What themes arise from these materials? What questions are answered? What new questions arise?

Annotated Bibliography and Lit Review: Grading Rubric

Needs Work

(0-8 points)

 

Satisfactory

(9-17 points)

 

Excellent

(18-25 points)

 

Search as

Strategic

Exploration

 

Journalist pulls from few, similar, and/or undependable resources to build a meager archive. Journalist doesn’t overcome bottlenecks and barriers to completion.

 

Journalist pulls from some, similar, and/or moderate-quality resources to build a modest archive. Journalist overcomes few bottlenecks and barriers to completion.

 

Journalist pulls from many, varied, and high-quality resources to build a compelling and authoritative archive. Journalist perseveres through multiple bottlenecks and barriers.

 

Information

Creation as a Process

 

 

Journalist does not participate in the iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating.

 

Journalist participates in the iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating. Final product could use more time in revision or would benefit from more drafts.

 

Journalist fully participates in the iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating. Final product benefits from completing drafts and revisions.

 

Research as Inquiry

 

Annotated bibliography and lit review develops few questions and/or shifts in thinking. Little evidence of curiosity or investment in study

 

Annotated bibliography and lit review develops some questions and/or shifts in thinking. Some evidence of curiosity and investment in study

 

Annotated bibliography and lit review develops significant questions and/or shifts in thinking.

 

Scholarship as Conversation

 

Journalist fails to identify key themes and tensions in discourse and is unable to contextualize points of view.

 

Journalist identifies key themes in discourse and can contextualize points of view.

 

Journalist identifies key themes and tensions in discourse and is able to contextualize points of view. Journalist is also able to occupy the conversation and contribute to it.

 

Portfolio

Overview:

This assignment invites journalists to compile fieldwork, drafts, revisions, and clippings to provide insight into their journalistic process. This portfolio will be compiled and used as a reflection tool to assess proficiency and set personal goals. Portfolios will be graded on a holistic basis—taking into account shifts and development throughout each draft’s iteration. Accompanying materials like graphics and images should be collected, too.

Assignment:

Review all of your pieces, published and unpublished. Each “piece” in the portfolio should include the following elements:

  • Preliminary research
  • Fieldwork (interviews, etc.)
  • All drafts
  • Clipping of the piece
  • Editors: pieces or issues that you helped oversee and/or elevate

For each piece, include a short reflection on the journalistic process it took to complete it. If the piece was published, discuss the piece’s public life—did it start conversations? Did you receive feedback and/or comments from friends, peers, or teachers? If the piece was not published, consider why and discuss the circumstances.

Portfolios will be graded according to a rubric. The most successful portfolios will demonstrate application, growth, and rigorous pursuit of journalism. Portfolios will also serve as the basis for conferences with the program’s adviser. Goals will be set for the second semester. These goals can include (but are not limited to):

  • Personal writing goals
  • Goals for depth and breadth of coverage
  • Goals for audience building
  • Goals for advancement in the journalism program
  • Goals for study after completing

The creation of information requires iteration; these processes look different in different domains. In this way, journalism’s brand of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information is unique. A journalist benefits from frequent feedback, frequent interactions with peers, as well as frequent application of these processes. As a student-run program, our journalists maintain a rigorous publishing schedule and scaffold assignments to elevate the quality and maintain the frequency of this multivariate operation. These portfolios act as artifacts to demonstrate the steps along the way in this process.

Grading Rubric

Needs Work

(0-5 points)

Satisfactory

(6-10 points)

Excellent

(11-15 points)

Authority is Constructed and Contextual Little or no authority is built through mistakes and oversights in grammar, style, and voice. Pieces lack rigor and depth. Some authority is established through prosaic application of grammar, style, and voice. Pieces are somewhat researched and articulated. Authority is built through superior application of grammar, style, and voice. Pieces are well researched and clearly articulated.
Information has Value Little to no attention is given to acknowledging the value of others’ information. Pieces add negligible value to the school community and stimulate no conversation. Moderate attention is given to acknowledging the value of others’ information. Pieces add value to the school community by stimulating conversation about timely topics. Care and attention is given to acknowledging the value of others’ information. Pieces add value to the school community by stimulating conversation about timely topics.
Search as Strategic Exploration Journalist is unable to overcome barriers and bottlenecks.  Makes few or no new connections to finish pieces. Journalist demonstrates moderate ability in overcoming barriers and making connections to finish pieces. Journalist demonstrates resilience and cleverness in overcoming barriers and making new connections to finish pieces.
Information Creation as a Process Journalist engages in few of the iterations (researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information) to develop publishable pieces. Journalist engages in most of the iterations (researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information) to develop publishable pieces. Journalist fully engages in all iterations (researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information) to develop publishable pieces.
Research as Inquiry Journalist has used little to no questions to motivate study and has not developed new questions during course of study. These questions demonstrate little to no intellectual risk. Journalist has partially used questions to motivate study and develops few questions during course of study. These questions demonstrate moderate intellectual risk taking. Journalist has used questions to motivate study and develops new questions during course of study. These questions are thought provoking and demonstrate intellectual risk taking.
Scholarship as Conversation Journalists demonstrate lack fluency and flexibility in their inquiry and cannot insert themselves into a field of study. Journalists represent few points of view and offer incomplete or unconvincing syntheses. Journalists demonstrate some flexibility in their inquiry and are able to situate themselves around a field of study. Journalists represent some points of view and can articulate some accounts of what these dynamics may signify. Journalists demonstrate fluency and flexibility in their inquiry and are able to productively insert themselves into a field of study. Journalists point out relationships between multiple points of view and can articulate compelling accounts of what these dynamics may signify.

 

 

 

mm

Author: Mark Dzula



Categories: Blog Topics, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

1 reply

  1. HI Mark,

    AACL does have a great resource. Thanks for sharing your specific lessons.

    Cathy

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