information literacy, evaluating information, authority, experts, trust, understanding, humility, first-year English, higher education

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Librarians and teachers encourage students to include expert perspectives in their research, but recent public discourse includes high-profile examples of experts being inconsistent or wrong, and recent studies suggest that public trust in experts is declining. Waning trust makes it difficult to teach information literacy: I can push students to find high-quality research sources, but what if these sources turn out to be yet another example of experts getting it wrong? After a period of living with this worry, I found a way to move forward by centering class discussion on the public’s dwindling trust in experts. Part of this discussion addresses reframing the point of library research. The goal is not to find sources to support an irrefutable argument; rather, the idea is to build a more thorough and realistic understanding of a research question. Research for understanding emphasizes acknowledging points of contention and pursuing complex questions with intellectual humility.



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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.