Adam Worrall

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Spring 2011, taught by Dr. Kathy Burnett

This course, per its syllabus, examined “the research literature on LIS education, with a critical focus” on a variety of trends, tensions, and issues in the area. These included those of information science vs. librarianship, generalization vs. specialization, theory- vs. practice-based curricula, distance vs. face-to-face delivery, standards and competencies, accreditation, globalization, technological change, and future trends. All class sessions were led up to by key readings on the topic—often chosen by classmates—followed by in-depth discussion and individual and group activities surrounding the topic. Major assignments included leading one class session and completing both a prospectus for and an actual complete literature review of a key trend, tension, or issue in LIS education.

Class leading

I chose to lead a session during the week assigned to theory- and practice-based LIS curricula. I prepared a lesson plan with notes, a schedule, activities, and measurable goals (as required); worksheets for each of the two activities I planned; and collected job ads for pairs to look at during one of the activities. My classmates and Dr. Burnett rated my performance highly and agreed I had achieved the goals set out at the beginning of the session.

Literature Review

As noted, the other major assignment was a literature review, for which I chose to look at the tension and divide between theory-based and practice-based curricula in LIS. I focused on the last twenty years (1991–2011) of literature, grouping it by the key themes of theory-based, practice-based, the divide, related tensions and trends, and spanning the two approaches and the divide and continuum between them, but also included a brief discussion of the historical background of theory- and practice-based LIS curricula.

Before writing the literature review itself, we had to prepare a prospectus presenting our thesis and purpose, background on the topic, an outline of the proposed organization for the review, and a proposed reference list. The prospectus was also to mention how comprehensive our review would be and the gap we intended it to fill. We then wrote critiques of each other’s prospectuses (available to my committee upon request) in order to help each other make improvements; feedback was also provided by Dr. Burnett. My final literature review was entitled Theory- and Practice-Based Approaches to LIS Curricula: A Literature Review, and included a moderately thorough review of the area, concluding with recommended avenues and research questions that should be pursued further.