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Teaching metaliteracy: a new paradigm in action

Donna Witek (Weinberg Memorial Library, The University of Scranton, Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA)
Teresa Grettano (Department of English and Theatre, The University of Scranton, Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 3 June 2014

Issue publication date: 3 June 2014




The purpose of this paper is to offer a model of information literacy instruction that utilizes social media to teach metaliteracy as the foundation for information literacy today and articulate the effects of social media on students’ information-seeking behaviors and processes and complete the goals articulated in part one of this study (Witek and Grettano, 2012).


The study was conducted in conjunction with the course rhetoric and social media, co-designed and co-taught by the authors. Data sources consisted of student work and methodologies including textual and rhetorical analysis and observation. Findings are analyzed and presented through the lens of the Association of College and Research Libraries Standards (2000) and Mackey and Jacobson’s (2011) metaliteracy framework.


The study identified four effects of social media use on students’ information literacy practices and behaviors: information now comes to users; information recall and attribution are now social; evaluation is now social; and information is now open. Data illustrate metaliteracy in practice and tie examples of this to the authors’ pedagogical decisions.

Research limitations/implications

Article offers a model for teaching information literacy in the context of participatory information environments which can be adapted by other practitioners. Authors concede that the small sample size, limited by course enrollment, limits the generalizability of the study findings to student populations as a whole.


Valuable to information literacy instructors and researchers because it offers the first formal application of concepts theorized in Mackey and Jacobson’s (2011) metaliteracy framework to information literacy instruction.



Aspects of this research were funded by the Faculty Development Grant program and the Information Literacy Stipend program at The University of Scranton.


Witek, D. and Grettano, T. (2014), "Teaching metaliteracy: a new paradigm in action", Reference Services Review, Vol. 42 No. 2, pp. 188-208.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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