Student Induction & Orientation as part of an IL Framework

My head is full so I’ve revisited my reflective blog to try and sort the wheat from the chaff. Absorb at your peril…

As part of my CILN (Cambridge Information Literacy Network) project work I have been tasked with unpacking the concepts of current library staff provision for student learning in the fields of induction and orientation.

I have had to return to the font of all knowledge here to get my head around those particular terms; the OED (Oxford English Dictionary).

It defines them thus;

  • Induction: The action of introducing to, or initiating in, the knowledge of something; the process of being initiated; introduction, initiation.
  • Orientation: Chiefly N. Amer. (orig. U.S.). The process of familiarizing a new or prospective student, recruit, etc., with the content of a course, the basics of a subject, the nature of college life, etc. Also: a course intended to provide such familiarization.

This would imply that induction is an on-arrival process whereby a student is “inducted” or introduced to basic library functionality (classification, discovery tools, resources). Orientation, however, is generally assumed to be a post-arrival process or more detailed on-arrival process whereby a student is given the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the library and what further learning opportunities are on offer; for this project, in terms of information literacy.

One would presume therefore that post-arrival learning in information literacy should be included as “orientation” procedure, be that as part of a structured training programme or as unstructured 1-2-1 sessions, hands-on lectures, etc.

That’s my take on it, but both terms seem to be far too “grey” for my liking. A recent data gathering exercise of current Cambridge library’s I/O practices has shown that the terminology is open to interpretation and this could potentially provide a problem to the quantitative and qualitative analysis process and subsequent mapping to the recognised Information Literacy Framework.

Breaking the library’s I/O practices down into “pre-arrival”, “on-arrival” or “post-arrival” practices might well be the way forward but that could involve a completely different set of questions being asked of current practices.

 

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