Book by Margit Misangyi Watts
Review by Nikola D. Strader
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
The Ohio State University

This volume of eight chapters, edited by Margit Misangyi Watts, is geared toward librarians but contains a wealth of information applicable to academic advising. Although information literacy is not a widely-discussed concept in advising, its objectives, as outlined by the Association of College and Research Libraries (2000), are very familiar: 

Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning. An information literate individual is able to:

• Determine the extent of information needed 
• Access the needed information effectively and efficiently 
• Evaluate information and its sources critically 
• Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base 
• Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose 
• Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally
(Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, Information Literacy Defined section)

While all of the chapters are interesting, chapters 4 and 5 seem to be the most applicable to advising from a theoretical point of view, while chapters 2, 6, and 7 illustrate applications of theoretical models.  Chapter 4 in particular helps in making one connection between information literacy and academic advising, taking as its framework the familiar model of college student development described by William Perry and mapping each of the first six positions onto the standards bulleted in the ALA definition.  

Chapter 5 also refers to Perry, along with other figures in the areas of student development and educational psychology (Bloom, Hofer, Schommer), but relies mainly on the concept of constructivism to address the incorporation of information literacy objectives into the first-year experience. This essay, while useful, was surprisingly short and felt incomplete. Much more could be done here, and from an academic advising viewpoint, an in-depth examination of the application of constructivist theory to the first-year experience in a variety of academic settings would be a welcome addition to advising scholarship.

For advisors involved in curricular reforms at their institutions, Chapter 2 may be useful, especially if one is not familiar with change agency theory and needs both a description of it and an example of successful application. Substitute “academic advisor” for “librarian” and “advising” for “information literacy,” and the application is apparent. Chapters 6 and 7, meanwhile, provide similar information in relation to collaboration models.

As described and discussed in this volume, the struggles and successes experienced by librarians are similar to those of many academic advisors. Advisors who are seeking applications of various theoretical models, are involved in faculty-advisor collaborations, or are interested in other views on student development will find these essays particularly appealing.

Association of College and Research Libraries. (2000). Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Retrieved December 5, 2008, from http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/standards/informationliteracycompetency.cfm#ildef

Information Literacy: One Key to Education, (2008), Book by Margit Misangyi Watts (ed.). Review by Nikola D. Strader. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 128 pp. $29.00 (paperback), ISBN # 978-470-39871-5
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