February 11, 2008

Fantasy Sports and Real Information Literacy

Check out Paul Waelchli’s article in the January 2008 issue of C&RL News in which he expands on his blog posts about information literacy and fantasy football.

Librarians’ Sport of Choice: Teaching Information Literacy through Fantasy Football

“Librarians want students to effectively identify and evaluate information and make decisions based upon what they discover. These are just some of the skills that an information literate student successfully applies. These are the same skills that more than 19 million people use on a daily or weekly basis playing fantasy sports.1 As the NFL football season comes to a close, millions of Americans, some as young as 12 years old, have spent the past few months connected to information literacy. They just don’t know it.

The challenge for librarians is to connect fantasy sports skills to information literacy and create building blocks for academic applications of the same concepts. One library, University of Dubuque, did just this by teaching fantasy football research to incoming student athletes. Through the lesson, students engaged in discussions of creditability, validity, timeliness, and search strategies to find and evaluate fantasy football information….

The high level of player investment creates educational opportunities for librarians. According to a 2006 study by the Fantasy Sports Association, a large number of college students play fantasy sports. Librarians can build upon the information literacy skills that students are already unconsciously using through fantasy sports play. The successful fantasy sport player consistently applies four of the five ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards (2000)….

At the end of the sessions, the students completed a short evaluation that assessed both criteria for evaluating sources and library perceptions. More than 80 percent of students were able to describe two of three appropriate source evaluation criteria and more than 60 percent provided all three. The students were asked to describe what research meant to them before the session and responses included, ‘headaches,’ ‘work I didn’t want to do,’ and ‘school work.’ The responses to the same question after the sessions showed a dramatic change in perspective and included, ‘making sure one is getting accurate information,’ ‘comparing and knowing where I’m getting my information,” and “fun work.” While the ‘fun work’ might be a stretch when homework is involved, it does show a change in perspective and awareness about research. One student first said that before the session, research meant ‘school,’ but afterwards he responded, ‘everything.’

In addition to the change in perception of research, the student athletes were asked about their perception of librarians. Prior to the fantasy football orientation session, the students had a 66 percent ‘very positive’ impression of librarians. After the session, the students “very positive” perception was more than 90 percent. While these results are not scientific and large enough to generalize, they show a distinct change in students’ impressions of libraries and their own abilities. One student stated, ‘I made the fantasy football connection to looking up school stuff quick, it worked well.’ “

And if you haven’t seen it, Paul’s chart illustrating which of the ACRL Information Literacy Standard are involved in playing Final Fantasy, Halo, and Madden (football) is also well worth your time.


6:43 am Comments (5)

5 Comments

  1. Thank you for the kind words and the reposting of the article. I’m excited by the interest it is getting. If anyone is interested in knowing more or trying something similar, please let me know.

    Comment by paul — February 11, 2008 @ 8:14 am

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