This paper aims to examine the teaching of library graduate students in an introductory course on the foundations of librarianship. To examine the specific skill of developing an ethical foundation in their future profession of librarianship, an examination is offered here using a multiple-step teaching strategy, introducing specific instructional materials, including a model of assessing ethics and a proposed integration of research skills with problem-based learning (PBL) as the suggested teaching delivery. As the experience proved to provide positive outcomes for student learning, the paper provides not only this operational examination but also the theoretical justification for further adaptation and usage of PBL as a teaching method in library and information science (LIS) education. Described are details LIS faculty should consider in implementing the method in teaching, especially on the topic of professional ethics.
This research project focused on exploring a new way of exploring the teaching of ethical behaviors in the library profession by examining real-world examples of ethics in trade news sources. It was therefore determined that the best strategy was to design a teaching activity that assists students in learning two sets of skills: information-seeking behavior and developing ethical boundaries and standards that a librarian would use in professional practice.
The process is often taught in a linear manner, but in practice, ethical situations are found and expressed in non-linear ways. In practice, the profession is rife with ethics, non-rules, non-lists and no checklists upon how to behave. Ethical dilemmas are extemporaneous, and yet decisions regarding them can be made from the guidance of professional associations and combined with thoughtful analysis.
Redefining any pedagogical activity in graduate teaching is, at times, more herculean than it seems at the start, yet with distilling the process into workable steps with appropriate protocols, we can successfully teach ethics in new ways. More integration of PBL is hereby advocated throughout LIS curriculum in a variety of contexts.
The author discloses receipt of the financial support for his research time and authorship of this article. This work and research was funded in part by the Koch Center for Leadership and Ethics at Emporia State University, Emporia, KS, USA.
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