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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Spring 2001

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Conference Reports

Science and Information Literacy on the Internet: Using the ACRL and Project 2061 Standards to Create a Science Web Page Evaluation Tool
ACRL Conference
March 16, 2001
Denver, Colorado

Kate Manuel
Physical Sciences Instruction/Reference Librarian
California State University, Hayward

The American Association for the Advancement of Science's {Project 2061: Science Literacy for a Changing Future} puts forth standards for science literacy that, in many respects, complement the goals of information literacy as expressed in the Association of College and Research Libraries' {Information Competency Standards for Higher Education}. For example, the AAAS' emphasis on students' understanding of science within social contexts is closely aligned with ACRL's goal that students know how information is formally and informally produced, organized, and disseminated in various disciplines. This goal fits with the fact that information production shapes and is affected by the social context of science.

In their presentation, called "{Science and Information Literacy on the Internet: Using the ACRL and Project 2061 Standards to Create a Science Web Page Evaluation Tool}" Laura Bartolo and Aimee German described a project that resulted from exploring and developing commonalities between the AAAS and ACRL standards within a collaborative environment. Bartolo's and German's work is significant because it not only extends efforts to identify shared instructional objectives (cf. Jennifer Laherty, "Promoting Information Literacy for Science Education Programs: Correlating the National Science Education Content Standards with the Association of College and Research Libraries Information Competency Standards for Higher Education," Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship (Fall 2000)) but also describes a level of collaboration between higher education, elementary and secondary education, government agencies, and industry that is not commonly seen.

Collaboration on the project began when the National Science Foundation's {Science and Technology Center for Advanced Liquid Crystalline Optical Materials (ALCOM), based at Kent State University, Case Western University, and the University of Akron, contacted librarians at Kent State about outreach to K-12 schools. ALCOM provided scientific expertise, while librarians furnished information management expertise. The Cleveland City and Portage County schools had a population of K-12 students and teachers who could benefit from the expertise that both scientists and librarians brought to exploring and creating scientific resources for the Internet. Two private companies, Keithley Instruments and Beta-Micron Inc., provided experimental equipment.

These groups worked together to create scientific experiments for the web and to establish criteria for evaluating external web resources for their potential value to include in the experiments' sites. Program participants set goals to unify standards for both science and information literacy, develop novel scientific resources, promote innovative applications of technology, and encourage students' interest in science. {Remote experiments} that cover topics like wind tunnels were created, linked to other closely related information resources, and posted on the web for public access.

Selection of quality web sites for linking to the remote experiments -- as well as creation of quality web sites for the experiments themselves -- both required and fostered information literacy skills in the K-12 students. Criteria to evaluate sites were needed since none existed which adequately met program needs. The criteria which were developed assessed sites on their use of scientific language and method, authority, references to source information, design, and navigability. (For these standards, {Becky's Guiding Resource Centre} serves as an example of a "bad" site, and the {Genetics Science Learning Center} as an example of a "good" one.)

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