Proving All Things
Terry Robertson (Library)
Proving All Things: Information Literacy in Theological Education
As developed within the Library community, information literacy describes the ability of a person to use information responsibly and effectively. It has been broken down into five facets: the ability to 1) identify an information need; 2) find the needed information; 3) evaluate the information; 4) use and apply the information for a specific purpose; and 5) ethically use information. 1 In an academic setting, information literacy instruction focuses on training students to properly frame a research question, use library resources to find sources, evaluate the sources for appropriateness and accuracy, and write a competent research paper, all the while properly citing sources and avoiding plagiarism. For theological education, there are excellent books that provide instruction in writing papers,2 research methods,3 library skills,4 and many disciplinary bibliographies. Although these works may touch on the evaluation of sources, 5 there is no examination of what students in theological education should take into consideration when evaluating a new information source. Since there is significant interdisciplinary research on this topic in the fields of library science, scholarly communication, and educational pedagogy, this book will provide a discussion of this research with an application to the theological education context.
The digital revolution is complicating this evaluation process for users. One impact has been the lowering of the economic barriers to publishing and the ability to bypass the longstanding scholarly gate-keeping infrastructures. Another impact is the ability to keyword search vast literatures which de-contextualizes snippets of information, risking misinterpretation and misapplication. The premise of the book is that because of the impact of the digital revolution on publishing and access, the user needs to be more intentional in evaluating information. I discuss principles and strategies that will assist users in the context of theological education.
1 Information Literacy Competency Standards.
2 Core, The Seminary Student Writes; Pazmifto, Doing Theological Research; Vyhmeister, Quality Research Papers; Yaghjian,
Writing Theology Well.
3Bazylinski, A Guide to Biblical Research; Bradley and Muller, Church History; Fee, New Testament Exegesis.
4 Badke, Research Strategies.
5 See Pazmifto, 9-15; Vyhmeister, 69-72.