Evaluating Information in Religious Communication: Information Literacy Applied in a Seminary Course on World Religions
In Library Science, a core pedagogical outcome in higher education is “information literacy.” One component of this competency is the ability to evaluate information. In applying this ability to Seminary education, specifically to student academic writing, I suggest that “information” in theological inquiry is primarily an expression of “testimony,” defined as information gained from statements and actions of others rather than from perception, memory or inductive inference. Thus recent discussions of the epistemology of testimony in regards to belief formation are pertinent where they contribute to understanding the dynamics of information exchange during the pedagogical event. In the typical process of researching a term paper, it is assumed that the student author has examined the testimony of reliable sources, and then after analysis and synthesis, shares her own interpretive testimony afresh.
A typical course on World Religions provides the context for the discussion because most Seminary students, though well informed on matters of Christian and denominational inquiry, are novice information seekers in topics drawn from outside their prior experience. Tacit prior knowledge is not as readily available, and requires a more explicit application of source evaluation competencies.
Terry D Robertson
A paper presented at the Center for the Study of Information and Religion Conference, Kent, Ohio.
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