Thursday, November 8, 2007

Accreditation as the impetus for IL integration--is that the answer?

What follows is a (extremely) belated account of an interesting presentation I attended in San Antonio, as part of the Council of Research and Academic Libraries (CORAL). One of the member libraries of this consortium is Trinity University, which has made the news lately as they have chosen Information Literacy as their Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) project for their 10 year accreditation renewal.

For those not in the know, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is the regional body/committee that accredits schools and universities throughout the South. One of their requirements for re-accreditation is for institutions to develop a QEP project which is supposed to be a long term project (like 5 years) and the institution must support the project financially as well.

Michelle Millet is the Information Literacy coordinator at Trinity University, and she did a presentation on Trinity's (and her) experience during this process. There have been some articles written about Trinity University's adoption of Information Literacy (integrating it into the curriculum) as their QEP project, but this presentation was very detailed about the actual process of writing the proposal, etc. It was a very illuminating (and practical) look at how to plan and implement such a large undertaking.

It made me wonder if this perhaps is the best way to get IL integrated into the curriculum. There are other examples of schools that have done similar plans. Michelle Millet herself touched on this briefly in her presentation. She outlined benefits of this process--namely that the university must support the chosen plan, so the necessary institutional support is there, and because of this it speeds up the process of integration.

The other main point I took with me from this presentation is the importance of data and data collection, which Michelle Millet emphasized pretty strongly. She noted that it was good to have assessment data to justify the proposal, as well as assessment of program progress as well.

I admit I am somewhat ignorant of other accreditation bodies and how they work, but I believe that this process is similar at least in other states in the U.S. I am curious about how this would work in other countries.