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Shifting the Balance of Power: Asking Questions about the Comics-Questions Curriculum

In Brief

We shift the balance of power in this paper by discussing a particular library lesson, the Comics-Questions Curriculum, with some of the students who participated in it, several years after they completed the workshop. By interviewing students and including them as co-authors of this paper, we re-center students in our analysis of this curriculum. In the process of reflecting on our work with the students and each other, we begin to see ways to engage in more meaningful, longer-term assessment of our classroom work while involving student voices in the process. We share our experiences here in order to take an honest look at our sometimes messy, unclear process, in the hope that others may reflect on, critique, and build on our work.

By Sarah Laleman Ward, Mason Brown, Stephanie Margolin, Amisha Rana, Shazib Naseer, and Shahzod Musayev


“[Critical Information Literacy is] using your personal skills and experiences in order to improve social life and change the world.” — Shahzod Musayev

“[Students] combin[e] their academic experience to their personal experience and kind of just …[bring] that here. But at the same time the librarian’s job is hearing what the students have to say because it all ties into the whole empowering part. And as students when we learn, it’s like we ‘know the information,’ but sometimes we kind of have self-doubt. It’s like, ‘Alright I do know this, but I’m kind of iffy about it.’ But when you hear an expert confirm your thoughts and say, ‘Oh it’s okay, we’ll work through this step by step’.” — Amisha Rana

Shahzod’s comment above was in response to our description of critical information literacy (CIL) that discussed empowering learners by building on existing skills, knowledge, and lived experience in order to foster social change. His words provide a strong introduction to the themes of our essay, as they connect principles that were important to us as we developed the Comics-Questions Curriculum (CQC) even before we connected it to the larger themes of critical pedagogy. We use Shahzod’s words here to set the stage for the dialogue we had with former students, through semi-structured interviews, to better understand how they interpreted and were able to make use of the lessons of the CQC in their first few years as college students.

Amisha’s words address two foundational elements of the CQC that relate to Freire’s (2000) ideas about the theory and practice of “problem-posing education.” First, that problem-posing education “take[s] the people’s historicity as their starting point” and “affirms men and women as beings in the process of becoming” as opposed to the “banking” model of education where students are viewed as empty vessels into which content is deposited (84). Second, the idea that librarians are there in a learning partnership as “critical co-investigators” alongside students, shifting the traditional teacher-student dynamic so that “[t]he teacher is no longer merely the one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach. They become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow” (80).

Too often, when student-centered pedagogies are reflected upon in the literature, the views of the student participants have been omitted. With this essay, we hope to re-center some of our students, creating a model for how other teachers might include the voices of their students in such conversations. While we, the three instruction librarian co-authors and curriculum developers (Ward, Brown, and Margolin), set the scope of this paper and determined its themes, we shared the task of describing the curriculum and its influence with students who participated in its implementation.

In this essay, then, we strive to incorporate important themes we used in the development of the CQC (eg. the power of asking questions, student-centered and student-driven classrooms) with discussions from our students about how the CQC was received by them and the effect it had on their lives, academic and otherwise, while drawing after-the-fact connections between our work and CIL. The student authors are all members of the SEEK program, a higher education opportunity program, at Hunter College. Hunter is one of the senior colleges in the public City University of New York (CUNY) system, and all the senior colleges have their own SEEK programs. Among the eligibility criteria, admission to the SEEK program is based on family income, and SEEK in turn provides “comprehensive academic, financial, and social supports to assist capable students who otherwise might not be able to attend college due to their educational and financial circumstances” (CUNY Office of Academic Affairs. n.d. “SEEK and College Discovery Programs”).

According to the 2017 Hunter College Factbook (the most recent year available at publication), 85% of our undergraduate students reside within the five boroughs of New York City, and 97% of the SEEK students attended NYC public high schools. Additionally, 89% of SEEK students are people of color, compared with 68% of the general undergraduate population at Hunter. The Summer Bridge is a mandatory, multi-week intensive program for incoming SEEK freshman and consists of non-credit introductory academic courses as well as skill- and community-building workshops and events (Hunter SEEK Program. n.d. “SEEK Summer Bridge Program”).  Amisha Rana and Shazib Naseer participated in the CQC during the 2016 Summer Bridge, and Shahzod Musayev participated in 2017. We interviewed Amisha twice individually, and Shazib and Shazod each individually, then together, in May of 2018.

We believe that good library instruction practices center on the student experience. Our shared classroom activities were designed to put students in charge of their own learning by empowering them to ask questions and work together to drive the discussions. Bringing students into this later conversation about the work, then, continues to shift the balance of power outside the classroom by ensuring that the students’ voices are present in scholarship about them and their experiences. In doing so, students have the opportunity to reflect, comment on, and critique this shared work several years after their in-class experiences, thus reinforcing their own learning. At the same time, through the lived experiences of our former students, we librarian-instructors in turn are able to gain a new perspective on our work, which we will explore in more detail in later sections, The Long Game and What’s Next.

As three white, middle-aged, middle-class librarians we acknowledge that our positions in the academy, and specifically at Hunter College, come with a certain amount of privilege and power. It was important to us as we developed the CQC that we de-center the role of the librarian and “shift the locus of control in the classroom from the teacher to the students” by encouraging and empowering student voices, and this paper is an attempt to bring that work into our scholarship (Margolin, Brown, and Ward 2018; Peterson 2009, 75; Ward, Brown, and Margolin 2017).

Background and Radical Honesty

To be completely honest, this paper has been hard to write. There is always a challenge in documenting–and finding meaning in–a lesson or curricula, but this time our problems felt even bigger. On occasion, we dealt with imposter syndrome, as we examined our CQC, described below, through the lens of CIL. We felt disingenuous trying to retroactively apply theory to our work, as it was developed outside of any particular theoretical framework and based solely on our instructional experiences. Although we now see connections between our work and constructivism, critical information literacy, feminist pedagogy, and critical pedagogy more broadly, these theories are not at all where we started.

We are fervent believers in the long game in terms of information literacy, fully aware that it may take years for the students to make use of or even to see the pay-off of this work.  However, our only assessment tool for this project was observation: we three did not always teach the CQC but instead trained and observed our colleagues and the students as they proceeded through the lessons. We wondered if and how this work was valued by the cohorts of students who participated in our project over the last four years, the librarians who taught it, and the administrators who enlisted our participation. We previously surveyed our colleagues who taught the CQC in the past, ((See Ward, Brown, and Margolin 2017.)) so for this paper, we engaged in conversations with our student co-authors as they identified ways they valued and applied the work (or lessons) from the CQC classrooms. Indeed, having this discussion with the students has been the most rewarding part of the process.

We arrived at question-asking early in the development of our curriculum, having asked ourselves the fundamental questions: “What do we wish students knew when they started college?” and “How can we build on existing skills, knowledge, and experience?” Question-asking fit the bill for both, and thus is central to our curriculum, and to this paper. It is a singular example of an extant skill for college students that merits further development and context. What’s more, it is an empowering skill, valuable even beyond students’ college-level work, and thus deserves our attention as librarians and teachers. While question-asking was central to the development of our first-generation CQC (Summer 2015), our question-related work flourished in new and important directions after reading Make Just One Change and adapting the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) for our second iteration in 2016, where it remained through 2018 (Rothstein and Santana 2011). ((All iterations of the CQC lesson plans are available in CUNY Academic Works repository and listed as Brown, Margolin, and Ward in the References at the end of this paper.)) QFT provides a structure where students first brainstorm questions (while following four rules for asking questions), then analyze them as open- or closed-ended questions, and then improve their questions, as they consider how to make open-ended questions closed, and the reverse.

It is worth noting that we developed this curriculum without a directive to address question-asking. Rather, when we first partnered with the SEEK Program administrators we were given a somewhat open mandate to provide information literacy instruction for their Summer Bridge program in four one-hour sessions, over a two week period. We were given great freedom in developing our curriculum; SEEK administrators had no requirements for the learning outcomes or materials used in the library lessons, other than adherence to the Summer Bridge program goals which included preparing students for college-level work, connecting them with campus resources, and enhancing their critical thinking skills. We debuted the CQC in 2015 with these learning goals, which have not significantly varied since: At the end of the four sessions, students will be able to generate questions based on materials given in class, and identify open-ended and researchable questions.


We wanted to bring an authentic, student-focused approach to writing this paper by engaging our students as co-authors, rather than as the subjects of study. We reached out to the director of the SEEK program in spring 2018 in order to recruit students who were interested in participating in this writing project with us, which is how we connected with Amisha, Shazib, and Shahzod. We described the writing project we were starting and asked each of them if they were willing to participate as co-authors, meaning that we would use the things they wrote and said to us in the body of the paper, and that they would be able to review and make edits to their work as they saw fit. The students’ voices lend a valuable perspective on the work and will help to better illuminate what this curriculum has meant to each of them in their individual academic experiences.

As a first step to get the students thinking about the topic we were writing about, we emailed them a few open-ended questions about their experiences with the SEEK program thus far, and more specifically their work in the library classrooms during their respective Summer Bridges. ((See Appendix for full list of questions.)) As a follow-up, we invited each of them in to talk with us about their experiences, and we recorded and transcribed these conversations. One limitation of this approach is that we spoke to only three self-selected participants who certainly do not represent the breadth of student experiences with the CQC. We admit that this process has been murky all along, as this is our first foray into engaging students in our research and writing in this way. We explore this idea more in the section titled The Long Game.

While we relished the opportunity to work with students as co-authors and to include their voices in this paper, from the outset, we knew that, due to their time constraints, they would not be equal co-authors. What’s more, we structured this paper around what we, as the curriculum developers, think is important about this project. We formulated questions for the students, and then edited their comments in order to fit into the structure we created. We fully acknowledge this imbalance of power in the writing process, and struggle with this tension in a piece that is attempting to be a student-centered work. We recognize that we are all still learning, and perhaps other researchers can build on or learn from what we have done, both good and bad, in the process. We find we are left with more questions about how we can better engage our students as true collaborators moving forward.

Participating in the CQC

“…it was actually pretty cool because we were taking classes together and coming to the library was one of the more interesting parts. Because I personally enjoy comics and then we were able to sit down together and actually just talk…I feel like it was supposed to be a teaching moment also but it was also a good way to socialize at the same time. So it was actually pretty fun.” — Shazib Naseer

Shazib helps outline how the CQC incorporates SEEK’s goal of community building. The CQC employs images from comic books as the focus for small groups of three or four students to ask questions, first about a single panel, then a page, and finally a scholarly article about comics (Margolin et al. 2018, 63-64). We believed that both question-asking and comics would be relatable, and thus comfortable and familiar, giving students the confidence that they had the knowledge and skills to tackle the CQC. The CQC is delivered in small sections (roughly thirty students each) led by two teaching librarians. Each summer, we trained that year’s pool of instructors on how we wanted them to approach the CQC. From the beginning, we envisioned the librarians as facilitators who guided students’ work in small groups, rather than as lecturers (Ward et al. 2017).

Shazib also describes the partnerships and friendships that develop within a cohort, supporting learning but also socializing, and most importantly, having fun. The SEEK Summer Bridge program is intentional about community building among each cohort of students. The program seems to bridge the divide between what Harris distinguishes as “communities of practice” and “learning communities” by being both a “found” community of students who meet each other and bond during the program, but one that is also “constructed” by and accountable to a larger guiding entity (Harris 2008, 250). Our work with these students, then, is a means to reinforce the larger messages and purposes of the SEEK program and the college overall, helping to “make [information literacy] embodied, situated and social for our diverse student body” by encouraging them to work in collaboration with each other and with us (Jacobs 2008, 259). There is intellectual as well as social value for the students in our classroom communities, emphasized by Shazib’s comment above, particularly around making meaning of non-traditional sources of information with each other as “. . . people produce, read, and interpret texts in communities, not in isolation. Communities reach consensus about interpretation, sometimes easily and sometimes contentiously” (Elmborg 2006, 195).

“No question asked is a wrong question.” –Amisha Rana

In making the above statement, Amisha demonstrates the impact of our shared classroom space where students felt empowered to ask any and all questions. It was important to us, and fundamental to the CQC, that the teaching librarians, the perceived authority figures in the classroom, were explicit about suspending judgement. We further clarified this point, for the instructors, the students, and ourselves, when we adopted the QFT model, where the second Rule of Asking Questions is “Do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer any question” (Rothstein and Santana 2011, 44, emphasis ours). This student-centered classroom is one where new learning is based on students’ prior experiences (specifically, asking questions), and where we learn alongside our students as facilitators and partners, together “[embracing] the centrality of questioning in any educative process” (Cope 2009, 24-25). We specified during the librarian-instructors’ training for the CQC that when students shared questions and ideas we should respond with “Thank you” rather than “Good” or “Yes,” modeling for the students the nonjudgmental way we intended for them to approach the process. By freeing the classroom from the judgement of right and wrong, good and bad, we strive for “. . . the broader goal of integrating questions into our lives, holding them close without jumping to closure. By doing so, we enter into wonder, possibility, and imagination. . . . it is a way of being that comes from living the question” (Ward 2006, 399).

“The librarian, . . . before he had gone over the stuff was like ‘No, we want you guys to figure it out and then we’ll come to a consensus after as a class.’ So it was thinking up on our own two feet and I like that . . . . We were actually really dissecting it, piece by piece, and asking how many ever possible questions we had.” — Amisha Rana

By beginning from common knowledge already held by students we can, in turn, expect students to take a larger role in shaping their own learning. Here Amisha makes connections between her CQC experiences and that self-direction. As mentioned earlier, we designed the CQC with the librarians acting as facilitators; guide on the side, rather than sage on the stage. Both our librarian colleagues and–at times–the students struggled with this unfamiliar and possibly uncomfortable format. Bucy, Devereux, Kramer, and Powers (2016, 50) discuss the reluctance students can have to assume authority over their own work, reminding us it is our job as teachers to nurture this in our students.

One of the reasons we focus on question-asking is its connection to students’ acquired knowledge. From an early age, humans ask questions to make meaning of the events that occur around us. This question-asking, until others might shape or suppress it, is a literal example of student-centered learning. By the time we are young adults, “asking a question can be an act of courage and nothing will as quickly prevent that person from ever taking the risk a second time as a snap judgment.” (Rothstein and Santana 2011, 47). In our students’ liminal state between high school and college, there is value in revisiting question-asking skills, which can help students make sense of the experiences of college and beyond. Amisha noted that she came in to our classroom already knowing “the whole five W’s [of question-asking] and the How” which allowed her to feel a degree of mastery as we began our work together. As Peterson (2009) notes, building on students’ acquired knowledge “says to the student: what you know and what you have experienced is relevant and important. Acknowledging this prior experience is a profound act of respect in the classroom“(74).

Through the lessons of the CQC, we observe students not only re-engaging with their question-asking skills, but also beginning to consider how those skills might be useful to them in college. These experiences are just the start of much longer learning processes, and will not be completed in the four contact-hours that we have with students in this program, nor in subsequent one-shot instruction sessions. It is our hope that the students begin to see that they, too, have a place here at the college and can question, criticize, and actively participate in the shaping of institutions and their roles within by “interrogating the social world and developing their own capacity for informed questioning” (Cope 2009, 24-25; Elmborg 2006).

Every iteration of the CQC focuses on asking questions, but our incorporation of Rothstein and Santana’s (2011) Question Formulation Technique (QFT) for the second iteration in Summer 2016 provided a stronger framework. While in our first year, we also worked with students on the kinds of questions they were asking, the structures provided by QFT gave each lesson more focus and clarity. These structures, specifically the rules for asking questions, and the “improving” of questions for different purposes, helped us further center the students, when, as Amisha describes above, they collaboratively defined the terms open- and closed-ended questions, and then worked together to see the strengths and weaknesses of each type for different purposes (Rothstein and Santana 2011). Shahzod recalls “[o]pen ended was more broad and big picture. It was much easier for me to ask broad question[s] instead of close ended questions.” Shazib found that this work, “makes you think a bit more about how you should ask questions.” The open/closed dichotomy was also useful in introducing ambiguity to students; questions are not always clearly open or closed.

All of these lessons were possible because we were building on the students’ earlier knowledge, and because the students were working together to generate new knowledge rather than relying on the librarians in the room to provide them with the “correct” information. Maria Accardi (2010) echoes our thoughts about the value of these collaborative activities, in that “activities that require students to interact with each other … may sometimes face resistance from students who prefer to work alone, but I make them do it anyway, because I believe that learning how to communicate in an educational setting helps students learn from each other and about themselves” (42).

We work with the students to actively shape their own learning by critically questioning the content before them, and we encourage them to reflect on how all of this might be connected to other themes, ideas, and questions. We elected to work with comics to ease students into critically examining and asking questions about information sources without introducing traditional academic sources at the start.

“So when I was listening, I was like oh okay, I’m pretty sure I know some of this. But the way you started asking us certain questions and you started relating it to the comic books it was pretty interesting. [W]here we’re getting our information from and what we’re getting out of it, connecting it to comic books, the fact that we’re able to ask questions about comic books and piece things together from that is pretty interesting. Because [comics] can be interpreted as a children’s book or even for everyone, and the fact that we were able to ask questions so specifically about it is pretty interesting to me.” — Shazib Naseer

“Before the class, I thought comics is something not important and not serious. After taking the . . . library class, I think I’m more interested in it. And you can find very viable information in an easier way then just reading the long text and long chapters and it’s much easier because there’s pictures and you can visualize.” — Shahzod Musayev

Shahzod and Shazib each had different reactions when they first encountered the comics in our classrooms, but eventually both came around to engaging with them over the course of the four class sessions.

Although comics are traditionally thought of as “disposable,” and as “popular culture detritus,” our students’ engagement with them demonstrates the value of using less intimidating media in place of traditional scholarly sources (Duffy 2010, 199). Every comic image is made up of multiple visual components: the characters, the backgrounds, the action, the colors, the lettering, the panel borders, the spaces between the panels, and more. The creators of these works make conscious choices as to which elements to include, and which elements to leave out. Reading comics involves thinking about these multiple visual elements simultaneously, and these elements, or the elements that have been left out, can “literally help make visible networks of power and power structures, aspects of our world that can often be difficult to discern through alphabetic text alone” (Vie and Deterle 2016, 3).

As Doherty (2007, 2-3) points out, the academy at large, and academic libraries by virtue of their role within it, privilege certain kinds of information as more legitimate than others for academic work. The creators and themes of these privileged works (e.g. academic journals, scholarly books) may be obscured or seem irrelevant and disconnected from the students’ own lives and experiences. Doherty (2007, 2-3) suggests that this privileging sneaks into information literacy instruction when we teach source evaluation, as all types of sources are evaluated in the same fashion, on procedural rather than critical terms. By introducing comics into the information literacy classroom and asking students to examine and ask questions about them, we build on familiar tasks and materials to introduce skills and concepts that are new and relevant to college.

In selecting the specific comic pages for each year’s CQC, we were conscious that the experience of reading comics “can challenge or perpetuate power differences in society” and therefore chose a broad cast of characters, steering clear of the traditional white-men-in-capes superhero protagonists (Vie and Dieterle 2016, 3). ((For a full description of our selection process see Margolin, Brown, and Ward (2018), “Comics, Questions, Action!”)) Fortunately, our focus on inclusivity and representation coincided with a shift in the comics industry toward more diversity in both the characters on the page and their creators. For example, more and more mainstream books are being written and/or drawn by women and this increased representation also broadens the experiences being represented (Hanley n.d.).

The Long Game

Interviewing former students has provided a new perspective on the work we (the developers) have done with the CQC over the last five years.

“[Question asking] didn’t come back to me until English 220 because English 120 [Freshman Composition], I found it very simple … but it really helped.” — Shazib Naseer

Shazib summarizes what we meant, earlier in this essay, when we stated our belief in the long game in terms of students’ information literacy. As he illustrates, the lessons from the CQC resurfaced in his second or third semester of college, where he had the opportunity to apply his new skills. One of the challenges of information literacy assessment is that internalizing or integrating any new skills into one’s process requires time for practice (practical application) and reinforcement. This delayed application makes it difficult for us, as teachers and curriculum developers who only see students for a limited amount of time, to assess our own work.

We hoped that the students were learning and utilizing the question asking skills we were teaching, but we had no immediate way of knowing if this was true. They seemed engaged in the process, as observed by the active discussions in each classroom. All three of our student co-authors remembered our in-class discussions about open- and closed-ended questions, which was gratifying. We feel that this speaks to the value in this kind of long-term evaluation process, which bell hooks (1994) echoes in discussing her own challenges with evaluating the classroom experience, stating “…students…are being asked to shift their ways of thinking to consider new perspectives … It may be six months or a year, even two years later, that they realize the importance of what they have learned” (154).

However, we are still unclear how to make use of this type of assessment/evaluation given the time and effort it takes. We see at least two areas for further research. First, what is the best way to evaluate students on their developing information literacy, in light of the time that it takes for the concepts to develop and be applied? As more institutions are requiring assessment measures and seeking ways to improve student engagement and retention, what is the role of the academic instruction librarian in this call for increased assessment/accountability? How can we show that our work has value without conforming to the quick or immediate, but perhaps less meaningful assessments of students’ learning in the IL classroom? An exit survey at the end of each session would not have captured the long-term application of these concepts. The banking system of education introduces an artificial construct that sets up the expectation that at the end of the semester or class everyone will feel good about the teacher and about what they learned, and that it is all tied up neatly, when in reality that is rarely the case with authentic learning (hooks 154).

Second, how can we efficiently and responsibly talk to students about how they are applying the things they are learning? Are there better ways to center student voices and experiences in our scholarship? In the future, we would like to establish a better methodology so that we could more effectively utilize the voices of more of our students. In the course of working with Amisha, Shazib, and Shahzod, we found in-person conversations to be richer than those conducted via email, though the latter had initially seemed more time-efficient, especially because we had to transcribe the recorded audio from these in-person conversations. Based on these experiences, two of the librarian co-authors (Ward and Margolin) will be embarking on an ethnographic study of students’ research habits more generally, as we continue to pursue this question. We are just starting to explore critical assessment as a means to engage in more meaningful assessment of our work, and we hope that our experiences will inspire others to continue to pursue and perfect this methodology.

What’s next?

In collaborating with former students to draft this article, we are gratified to see where our work together shaped, and continues to shape, their approach to college. While their specific recollections may have dimmed with the interceding year or two, this additional distance allows students time for “[g]rowth in reflection and self-knowledge” which Ward asserts “is just as important as critical thinking to the development of information literacy. The two sides complement each other and are inextricably linked” (Ward 2006, 396).

Writing this article, and considering connections between our work and that of CIL, has also allowed us the space to engage in critical reflection of our own experiences. While we were in the process of writing this paper, we learned that we would not be working with students in the SEEK Summer Bridge program this year. While this was a disappointment to us, it did offer us the opportunity to think about our motivations for creating and sustaining the CQC. We connect with Jacobs’ idea that, “By modeling that we too are learning and ‘living the questions,’ we can help students learn and live questions as well” (Jacobs 2008, 261). This raises new questions for our own practice about ideas like the balance of power in the classroom and how we model the behaviors and processes we want to encourage in our students.

We must consider what we, as teachers and instructional designers, choose to do with our perceived authority. Do we, for example, “guide” students to certain conclusions about the meaning of college-level research? Do we privilege certain questions or question types as better than others? Do we present comics or other “nontraditional” (meaning not typically used in academic research) sources as less valuable than other traditionally scholarly sources? Do we slip into judgment of students’ questions and ideas?

The CQC already has a life outside of the SEEK summer bridge classrooms. We have adopted and adapted some of the individual lessons in our one-shot classrooms, and the freshman composition classes (English 120) we work with each semester now focus on asking questions as the driving force behind the research process. We shared the CQC with colleagues across CUNY, and by depositing our lesson plans in our institutional repository (2015; 2016; 2017; 2018) we offer them up for adaptation to other contexts. Finally, we are early in the process of exploring ways to bring this four-lesson curriculum to area high schools, as we believe these lessons can help bridge the gap between high school and college research. Perhaps of greatest value to we three instruction librarians as we write this article has been the opportunity to further shape our thoughts about the CQC and its potential beyond the program it was originally designed for.


We appreciate the participation and contributions of Amisha Rana, Shazib Naseer, and Shahzod Musayev, our student co-authors for this piece. The authors would like to thank our reviewers, Marisa Mendez-Brady and Bethany Messersmith, for their thoughtful comments and suggestions during the review process, and our editor, Sofia Leung, for her work and attention throughout.


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Vie, Stephanie, and Brandy Dieterle. 2016. “Minding the Gap: Comics as Scaffolding for Critical Literacy Skills in the Classroom.” Composition Forum 33 (Spring): n.p.

Ward, Dane. 2006. “Revisioning Information Literacy for Lifelong Meaning.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 32, no. 4: 396-402.

Ward, Sarah Laleman, Mason Brown, and Stephanie Margolin. 2017. “Action-Packed Action Research: How Comic Books, Questions, and Reflections can Transform Information Literacy Instruction.” Paper presented at the Association of College and Research Libraries National Conference, Baltimore, MD.


Appendix: Interview Questions



Year you participated in SEEK Summer Bridge:


Email address:


Phone Number:


  1. Think back on your experiences during the SEEK Summer Bridge program – what stands out to you as an experience that you found valuable and why?
    1. What connections, if any, are you able to make now between the work you did during Summer Bridge to your current academic work?
    2. Your current personal or work life?
  2. What continues to be challenging as you conduct research?
  3. What are your strengths as a student?
    1. How did you develop these strengths?


Critical Information Literacy/Critical Librarianship (CIL) is an emerging area of study in our field. The basic ideas of CIL are:

  • questioning power structures and authority, particularly with regard to information and whose voices are privileged in academic settings
  • empowering learners by building on existing skills, knowledge and lived experience in order to foster social change.


Write down some questions or thoughts you have about this.


Do you see any aspects of this reflected in your experiences at Hunter thus far? Please describe.