Framework Spotlight on Scholarship: “Exploring Creative Information Literacy Practices via Divergent Thinking” by Hartnett

Today’s Spotlight on Scholarship features Joseph Hartnett’s article “Exploring Creative Information Literacy Practices via Divergent Thinking,” published in the Journal of Creative Library Practice on April 12, 2016.

In this article, Hartnett reports his findings after pursuing a line of inquiry spurred on by the Framework. The Framework’s focus on practices and dispositions as opposed to discrete skills led Hartnett to ask if there is a way for information literacy librarians to explicitly teach a disposition toward creativity and divergent thinking within the research process, with a focus on the “Searching as Strategic Exploration” frame. The article introduces the work and methods of Edward de Bono, whose creativity training materials are well used, if proprietary in nature. Hartnett accounts for this limitation, and contextualizes de Bono’s approach by sharing critiques within the academic community. Hartnett connects the strengths of de Bono’s approach to other more accepted techniques, such as offering opportunities to practice divergent thinking and modeling thinking routines in the classroom. Hartnett shares a small experiment facilitated in a credit-bearing information literacy course, in which the control group was instructed in direct skills related to developing a search strategy, while the experimental group was instructed in de Bono’s methods for practicing creative and divergent thinking when developing a search strategy. Students were then given the same open-ended writing prompt designed to test their level of divergent thinking in developing a search strategy for a given topic. Hartnett measured that the experimental group exhibited a higher level of divergent thinking than the control group, indicating that targeted approaches to teaching divergent and creative thinking, including those of de Bono, have the potential to help librarians teach the kinds of dispositions espoused by the Framework. This article is significant as well because it is an example of a librarian pursuing a line of inquiry in response to the Framework with the goal of improving instructional practice.

Joseph Hartnett is Information Services Librarian in the Newman Library at Baruch College, City University of New York.

The “Framework Spotlight on Scholarship” column is a regular post series highlighting scholarship that uses, builds on, critiques, or responds to the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.