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9 Assessment of the Communicative Success: Monitoring Impact and Obtaining Feedback

9 Assessment of the Communicative Success: Monitoring Impact and Obtaining Feedback

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Pathways into Information Literacy and Communities of Practice

good. Third, academic and research institutions are using research impact

indicators to evaluate their professors, researchers, and students, and they

daily make staff decisions based on them. Finally, impact assessment can

be useful for reference decisions such as determining which are the most

influential authors, research groups, institutions, media, or documents in a

discipline. Especially for these last two reasons, impact assessment has

become also an important part of IL programs.

The main tool for monitoring impact is citation indexes. In the

Internet realm, the paradigm is Google, which, inspired in Garfield’s’

Citation Index, assigns relevance indexes to Internet sites according to

the number of pages that redirect to them. They perform an assessment

based on popularity. This strategy has been incorporated to the majority of search engines, and it is the backbone of website assessment and

Internet marketing. In the scientific publishing field, Web of Science,

Scopus, and Google Scholar provide this kind of information, as

discussed previously.

Citation by other scientific publications is a key indicator of

communicative success, but impact can be assessed by other means, which

are collectively known as alternative metrics or altmetrics. Altmetrics is

very similar to the marketing assessment techniques that are used in the

Internet. It explores how many times an item is viewed, downloaded, or

referred in catalogues, databases, news media, or social networks. Though

this information is not so authoritative from a scientific impact point of

view, it provides complementary information about the dissemination

and use of scientific publications, especially about those documents that

are not always formally published, such as conference papers, seminar

presentations, and blog entries.

Though metrics are increasingly important in a globalized world that

counts on a growing workforce in almost any activity, any author

worried about the true relevance of his work needs more precise and

qualitative feedback. In principle, the same sources used for the quantitative assessment of a publication can be useful to obtain qualitative criticism because they usually provide the reference or even the link to the

citing document, where the author can check how his publication has

been used or even assessed. In addition to this method, authors can proactively look for feedback, ask for reviews, send their papers and solicit

feedback, and present their contributions in conferences, seminars, and

peer-to-peer meetings.

The Relevance of Communicative Competence




After reviewing some of the more important subject contents that are of

interest to promote communicative competence education and training,

this last section is devoted to the practicalities of IL program design,

where it can receive a monographic treatment or be considered in a more

general or specific frame.

As the title of the chapter suggest, a competence-oriented approach is

suggested. The idea is to produce a measurable change in users’ communication competence that reaches a satisfactory and predetermined level,

according to the current public or professional standards. The first step is

to set such standards.

Thereafter, a work team must be gathered, which must be collectively

savvy both in the technical and pedagogical aspects and should have

sufficient knowledge in the interdisciplinary fields that will be tackled. If

this is not possible, the team should at least have access to a network that

provides them with counseling, resources, and assessment.

Third, a second review must be done of the characteristics of the

target group so that the intervention can become more adjusted to the

users’ specific nature. Many times other models and course materials that

have been designed for in principle very similar users are applied, only to

find later that the needs and knowledge are not similar enough to reach

the desired results.

After that, competences must be expressed in terms of learning results

that can be precisely evaluated. Only then will methodologies be selected.

Finally, the students, the instructors, and the program should be carefully

assessed so that changes can be made to the intervention project to

achieve better results (Fig. 6.2).

6.10.1 The Competence-Based Approach

The competence-based approach to education stresses the need that

future workers will be able to behave successfully in their work positions,

showing the proper skills, declarative knowledge, and attitudes; i.e., they

must be perceived as competent.

This approach pursues an advance over more traditional educational

methods that offer only partial results in this direction. Usually, students

have sufficient conceptual knowledge and can demonstrate practical


Pathways into Information Literacy and Communities of Practice

Setting core

and related


Team and













impact, and


Figure 6.2 IL program design.

abilities, but they lack other accompanying capabilities and attitudes that

are key for successfully performing in real work positions.

In this sense, the competence-based approach is also a result of the

new zeitgeist that inspires the relations between employers and the educational sector. Many firms want candidates who can immediately integrate

without further training or experience, or at least with the least possible.

Providing for this desire, educational institutions have developed new

tools, such as practical positions, individual and collaborative projects, and

others that promote the integration of different skills and knowledge into

functional competences.

In addition to this, the emphasis in competence restores the role of

standard-based evaluation in education, so that accomplishing standards

becomes crucial besides other educational aims.

Once the competence-based approach to education has been

adopted, core, related, and supporting competences for the specific

program are to be determined with precision. Equally important, they

must be mapped from the point of view of the target audience. That

is to say, it is not enough to establish the required competences, but

also assess with precision the knowledge that users have about them,

when and where they have acquired this knowledge, when and how

they are expected to use it, and if the IL intervention can interfere or

be redundant with previous or future well-programmed educational


The Relevance of Communicative Competence


Competence assessment should not underperform. We cannot set a

level under the audience’s requirements. If the course is not very specific

despite its focus, it should tackle communicative competence from a

multiliteracy and web 3.0 perspective. In an increasing multimodal communication environment, users need to learn to interchange fluently

among different technologies and media (Ashley, Jarman, Varga-Atkins, &

Hassan, 2012).

6.10.2 Gathering the Team and Waving the Network

Dealing with the interdisciplinary nature of the communicative competence requires incorporating the different professional competences to the

team or, at least, counting on a supporting network. There are many ways

to do it. We can count on inner knowledge; acquire the necessary knowledge and skills, developing the staff ’s competences through education,

training, or mentoring; recruit consultants and hire external experts and

instructors from other disciplines; or any combination of these, depending

on the required level of competence and the availability of resources.

In a networked world, unneeded duplication of efforts should be

avoided. Producing a previous and careful state of the art will result in

perspectives, programs, experience, and teaching materials that can be useful and contribute to save resources, especially always scarce man-hours

and funding.

Conversely, we must be careful to accept external programs and

materials without a second look and thought. In a global interconnected

world, what makes a program worthy is its capability to meet local needs

in a tailored way. For standardized programs and instructional materials, big

institutions are better prepared, and it is difficult to compete with them,

especially now that the Internet puts them only a few clicks away, so a

proper balance between global reach and local focus should be pursued.

6.10.3 Clarifying the Audience or Target Group

When planning an IL intervention, the importance of clearly establishing

the audience cannot be stressed enough, and in particular, analyzing it in

terms of potential target groups. In IL it is very frequent to work with

natural groups or responsive audiences. Examples of the first case are

sophomores of a certain discipline or first-year doctoral students of a

faculty, responding to the demands of the institution. The second one is

formed by those persons who spontaneously respond to an IL offer.


Pathways into Information Literacy and Communities of Practice

These methods of selection produce target groups without further

analyses, and they usually function well. However, in other occasions,

they do not result so compactly, and problems arise. For example, when

working with the doctoral students of a big faculty, their interests and

needs can be quite divergent in terms of the databases they use, their

citations styles, their usual channels of publication, or their methods of

assessment. As a result, the examples and case studies can be boring for

the majority, thus spoiling one of the best teaching tools to improve

motivation and transfer practical abilities.

6.10.4 Defining the Educational Results

The concept of competence is a construct that is not directly observable.

Therefore, for the purposes of selecting learning methods and assessing

success, competences must be translated into specific and observable

results: users being able to accurately name a concept, apply the appropriate checklist to take a decision, or complete a task successfully. Thus, it is

not enough to set general or even specific aims but to formulate them as

specific tasks and behaviors that can be properly assessed.

As it was discussed in the introduction, LIS program developers must

be very careful when they try to balance aims with resources. They must

consider those contributed by the institution and the instructors but also

those committed by the students. One of the most neglected of such

resources is time. Usually, the program objectives are too ambitious to be

fulfilled in the time devoted to it.

6.10.5 Methodologies

When designing IL programs, most managers usually think of courses,

be they in the classroom or online. However, modern educational intervention programs are usually multichannel and methodologically open.

Methodologies should be considered strategies to meet such a balance,

not ends in themselves.

The important thing regarding channels and methodologies is finding

a program that is efficacious from the point of view of users and one that

can be effectively delivered with the existing resources. Usually, a balance

must be achieved in a responsible way.

As in any good intervention program, a panoply of methodologies can

be unfolded: mailings for alert, conferences to show tangential problems and put the audience in contact with persons of reference and

The Relevance of Communicative Competence


future mentors, hands-on workshops, intensive courses, scattered-session

seminars, a good CMS offering highlights, news, a multimedia repository

and social networking tools, an online teaching platform, and one-onone coaching. When users are not permanently available or are inconstant, redundancy becomes more important. When users are dedicated

but do not have enough time, intensive courses or even personalized

mentoring and coaching will be more effective.

6.10.6 Assessing Impact

As Gunselman and Blakesley (2012) and Juskiewcz and Cote (2014)

discuss, the lack of precise and extensive assessment is one of the black

holes of IL efforts that usually result in a loss of credibility in the long

term, despite momentaneous success.

Not in vain, ACRL (2014) has recently stressed assessment in its draft

Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. This is even more

important in a changing social and technological environment

(Gunselman & Blakesley, 2012) where priorities, methodologies, and

techniques are shifting very quickly.

Assessment must cover all the relevant aspects of the educational

intervention: aims (competences and learning results), target users’ selection,

methodologies, students’ results, and resources, especially the teachers’.


Communication competence is a very ample field of theory and practice

that it is cultivated by many different disciplines: linguistics, textual

studies, communication science, pedagogy, and LIS, among many others.

All of them have produced and are actually offering meaningful research

results and theoretical insights and models that are useful to improve

information competence as a whole.

In the case of IL promoted from the LIS arena, five principles can

be offered for enhancing communication competence according to the

current social and technological landscape. The first one is the need of

being humble, counting—when leading—on this transdisciplinary pool

of knowledge and their specialists.

Second, whom and what to teach should be carefully assessed in its

context. General programs that repeat the same content in very different

contexts are bound to be at least partially redundant or irrelevant, the first

because a sector of users can be more knowledgeable in some questions


Pathways into Information Literacy and Communities of Practice

and another in others, possibly even more than the trainers themselves,

and the second because the efficacy of examples and emphasis frequently

depend on the audience, and when they are unsuitable, the learning

rapport decreases dramatically.

The best approach is previously to map how the relevant communication competences are scattered over the formative syllabi, what is lacked

in order to fill this gap, and what strategies should be taken to provide a

better integration among them so that the user may end having a fulfilled

and workable map of the communication competence domain that is

relevant to him. IL programs from the LIS area should concentrate in

what the relevant LIS subspecialties can better offer to such a map.

Regarding methodologies, a working strategy is to make them

dependent on the target group and the available resources and not the

other way around. Methodologies are strategies not aims, and, therefore,

they must be selected to accomplish the goals. Furthermore, as users are

usually diverse, living different situations and suffering singular conditions,

a multichannel intervention usually ends up being more effective, and its

higher probability of impacting different categories of users more than

compensates the costs of redundancy.

Finally, communication competence in the age of Internet and media

convergence cannot be limited to oral and writing communication. It

has to be addressed from a perspective that incorporates multimedia,

social networking, and open data, with at least a glimpse of the nascent

semantic web.


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Information Culture and

Information Literacy as a

Scientific Direction and a Field of

Educational Activities in Russia

N. Gendina

Kemerovo State University of Culture and Arts, Kemerovo, Russia



The development of information competencies and information literacy

has become a worldwide educational priority, as affirmed by UNESCO

and IFLA. With the rise of information technologies and the increasing

economic role played by digital networks, the attention of information

educators’ competency was at first centered upon the improvement of

computer literacy skills and the use of new communication technologies.

Moreover, the information literacy skills assume technological, social, and

cultural dimensions.

The explosion of information resources, the increasing diversity of

information content with varied levels of reliability, and the threat of consciousness manipulation demand the development of new information

skills from preschool to university to provide lifelong learning. It means

not only the knowledge of the personal computer and information and

communications technology (ICT), but it means a person’s responsibility

for information behavior, following the information ethics, and a critical

analysis of information in all social practices.

This mix of technological, social, and cultural dimension found its

reflection in the terms information literacy and information culture.

In Russia the well-known English literature term “information literacy” is recognized but not widely used. In Russia the word “literacy”

means the ability to read and write, and it is associated only with the

most simple and initial level of education. Therefore, the term “information literacy” unwittingly gives the elementary, primitive, and limited

Pathways into Information Literacy and Communities of Practice. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-100673-3.00007-1

© 2017 N. Gendina. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.



Pathways into Information Literacy and Communities of Practice

tone in interaction of a man and information. The alternative term is

“person’s information culture.” In Russia, the term “information culture”

is much more used. Besides Russia and the Commonwealth of

Independent States (CIS), it is used in non-English speaking countries

such as France (Cordier & Lehmans, 2013; Maury, 2013) and Hungary

(Karvalics, 2013).

For example, in France, an educational technologies research team

formed in 2006 and funded by the French Ministry of Education conducted an interdisciplinary research program on information culture and

information curricula. The primary objective of that program was to propose solutions for improving information literacy education in schools

and at university. The program has brought together several research laboratories and academic institutions, and the project team includes researchers, library and documentation professionals, teacher training specialists,

and school librarians, as well as school and university teachers from all

academic disciplines (https://ertecolloque.wordpress.com/).

In 2008 University of Lille (France) organized an international colloquium “Educational Approaches to Information Culture” (https://ertecolloque.wordpress.com/) where the key workshops presented the

following directions of researches:

• Institutional, political, and educational aspects of information culture

and comparative international approaches to these aspects;

• Uses, representations, and social contexts of informational and documentation practices: ordinary versus formal informational practices;

• Formatted knowledge: implicit or hidden information aptitudes, their

sources, and modes of acquisition;

• Didactic approaches to information literacy education and information

literacy-based educational practice.

In English publications the term “information culture” is used in three


1. In the context of education and training information literacy (Liia,

Heidmets, & Virkus, 2015;Machin-Mastromatteo, 2015; MachinMastromatteo, Beltra´n, & Lau, 2014; Menou, 2003; Oliver &

Foscarini, 2014; Ramirez, 2003; Zeidmane, 2008).

2. In the context of increasing of organizational culture of firms and

companies and development of information management and knowledge management (Choo &Tien, 2012; Curry& Moore, 2003;

Ginman, 1988; Leidner, 1998; Leidner & Kayworth, 2006; Martin,

Lycett, & Macredie, 2003; Oliver, 2007; Travica, 2008).

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